Every year on March 17th, “Nak Muay” (Thaiboxer) from all over the world meet in Ayutthaya to celebrate the Wai Kru Ceremony.

Maybe you think now, stop … Wai Kru what is that? Where is Ayutthaya and why exactly on March 17th, when it is damn hot and humid in Thailand? Patience my friend, all these questions will be answered in the following article and I give you an insight into one of the most impressive festivals in Thailand. Whether you’re a martial artist or tourist, the Wai Kru Muay Thai Ceremony is definitely worth a visit.

Here you find the pictures from the Wai Kru Muay Thai Ceremony

What is Wai Kru?

Wai = Respect, Kru = Teacher. The Wai Kru is a traditional Thai ceremony to pay tribute to the teachers and to honor their work. These ceremonies take place, of course, in schools and universities, but also in Muay Thai.

If you have ever seen a Muay Thai fight, you will have noticed that before the actual fight some kind of dance is performed, the Wai Kru Ram Muay.

Wai Kru Ram MuayPhoto Credits: Wiki Commons

Both fighters, in the company of traditional music, perform this “dance” in order to respect the trainers, as well as respecting the family, religion, sport in general and the “spirits of the fight”. Some even claim that the Wai Kru performance can tell which competitor will win.

Where is Ayutthaya and why is this city so important?

Ayutthaya is about an hour north of Bangkok. Bangkok knows everyone as the capital of Thailand, but what only a few know, Thailand was not always Thailand. It used to be known as the kingdom of Siam and you can guess three times what the capital was! Sure… Ayutthaya.

To be exact, from 1351 to 1767, ruled the Siamese kings. In the 18th century, before Ayutthaya was destroyed by the Burmese, it was the most important and magnificent city in Southeast Asia, with over a million inhabitants.


On April 7th 1767, the Siamese capital was plundered by the Burmese and almost completely destroyed, so that it could not recover properly. This has not been forgotten by the Thai people until today.

But a son of the Kingdom of Siam was able to re-establish the honor more or less, and is still known by every child in the country. The speech is about Nai Khanom Tom.

Nai Khanom Tom, the Muay Thai legend

Nai Khanom Tom was a war prisoner in Burma. The Burmese had taken him into captivity when they plundered and destroyed the ancient capital, Ayutthaya.

At that time, King Mangra ruled in Burma. In a festival which had taken place on March 17th 1774, the king wanted to be entertained by some fights, and on the other hand, he wanted to find out which martial arts were more effective, the Burmese or the Siamese.

Nai Khanom Tom went to fight on the Siamese side. He defeated ten Burmese fighters just on his own and was able to rebuild the honor of his home and kingdom. In addition, he received his freedom and many gifts because the king was so impressed.

Nai Khanom Tom

Nai Khanom Tom returned home as a hero and was celebrated. After the defeat against Burma, the Siamese needed exactly such a hero, to rebuilt morality.

Every year there are competitions to honor the legend Nai Khanom Tom. The biggest event is probably the Wai Kru Muay Thai ceremony in Ayutthaya, organized by the Kru Muay Thai Association.

What to see during the Wai Kru Muay Thai ceremony?

In the early morning of March 17, the masters and members of the Kru Muay Thai Association meet at the Nai Khanom Tom Memorial to honor the most legendary of all Nak Muay and remember him.

There will also be several fights taking place at this location during the next couple of days.

The actual festival, however, takes place around the Wat Maha That and Wat Langkhakhao (both ancient temples). There is everything around Muay Thai and even more. There are lots of fights, you can measure your strength by kicking banana trees or punching coconut shells and of course, you can  buying everything you need. Sure, also a lot of business is made, during the Wai Kru Muay Thai ceremony.

Muay Thai Kampf

On the whole, everything is presented around Thai martial arts. In addition to the fights, there are Muay Boran Show’s, you can watch a Krabi-Krabong sword be forged or you can get a traditional Sak Yant Tatto. A great fair in the name of the Muay Thai stop.

But the highlights are on the evening of 17th of March, when it has cooled down. This year more than 1,000 Nak Muays got together in front of the Wat Maha That to perform the Wai Kru together.

On the one hand, of course, to honor Nai Khanom Tom, but also to the Grand Masters of the Kru Muay Thai Association. The whole thing was led by Muay Thai superstar Buakaw Benchamek. It was very impressive to see so many people who have one and the same passion, the Muay Thai.

Buakaw Wai Kru

Wai Kru Muay Thai Ceremony

After the ceremony they continue with a breathtaking live show about the Siamese-Burmese wars. Fire, weapons, dances, even war-elephants, everything is there. These were used in the wars, as we in Europe used horses, only more impressive somehow .

As a martial arts enthusiast, the Wai Kru Muay Thai ceremony in Ayutthaya is definitely worth a visit.


Personally I have to say that it was nice and important for me to be there once to see and feel what is going on. I must say, however, that I do not have to return to this ceremony, because it is very obvious that the whole thing is quite a big business of the Kru Muay Thai Association.

There are, of course, some who have a strong tradition and a sense of unity. However, I have rather gained the impression that it is a big catwalk of the “Masters” and the money is the main focus.

Nevertheless, it is a really impressive festival for everyone who shares the passion of Muay Thai and therefore definitely worth a visit if you want to be a part of it.

If you have any further questions or suggestions, then you can leave me a comment below. I will answer you as soon as possible!

You like this article? Then share it with your friends!