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As with the other arts in Myanmar, there has been little change in the martial art of kickboxing.
Although somewhat similar to Thai, French, American and other types of kickboxing,
it has maintained a more traditional down-to-earth directness unlike any of the others.
The key emphasis is on technique and not so much on hurting the opponent.
They look for who has the best kicking power, hitting power, best high kick and round kick, what is new,
which is the best method used. Some matches are now seen on TV but these are taped no live kickboxing at yet.
Then there is the no holds barred type of kickboxing for fame, glory and monetary reward.
While a common sight at pagoda festivals (Paya pwes) for generations,
recently major bouts have been held at the Aung San National Stadium in Yangon.
While, in the past rules differed in different parts of the country, today they are being unified.
Recent moves to make it a more international sport will require the use of gloves and the non-use of the head.
Myanmar kickboxing is closer to street fighting than the Queensbury rules of professional Western boxing
and makes no pretenses of being anything else. The target: any part of the opponent.
The weapon: any part of the body, especially the head (although its use is being challenged) knees and elbows.
The results: a fight not for the squeamish! The best blows include: high kicks to the neck,
elbows jabbed into the face and head, knees thrusts into the ribs and low kicks to the calves.
It is an art, a martial art and skill, technique and all the other attributes of an art come into play.
While mere punching with the fits may seem tame, it is not when, as in Myanmar boxing, there are no gloves!
Hands are bandaged with strips of hemp.
And yet this is still less threatening then in the past when fighters would dip their fists
in resin and then into broken glass, which really added to the damage inflicted on an opponent!
To safeguard the boxers from accidents, there are rules against scratching,
biting, hair pulling and hitting or kicking an opponent in the groin.
A boxer who is down may not be kicked or hit in any way. Fingernails and toenails have to be properly trimmed.
They fight barefoot.
Unique is the small musical ensemble consisting of drums, local oboe, cymbals and bamboo clappers
that performs during the ritual and the match.
For one not accustomed to the martial arts or one who has only known western martial arts
the experience of Myanmar kickboxing will be well remembered as something unique and exotic from your trip to Myanmar.