Muay Lao is a Lao-style kick-boxing using feet, fists, elbows and knees, similar to Muay Thai from Thailand, Pradal Serey from Cambodia, and Tomoi from Malaysia (Mansfield 2017). The martial art is highly ritualised that practitioners disseminate the Buddhist principles that value adaptation to nature, relaxation and politeness. Before the match begins, boxers perform rituals called Wai Ku, where they warm up and pay respect to their masters. Muay Lao has been passed down through generations based on the spirit to sustain the strength of the ethnicity and preserve the tradition.
The origin of Muay Lao can be traced back to the 15th century as a means of military combat (Kislenko 2009: 156). The troops of Fa Ngum, the king who first unified the country, are said to have found the discipline useful in battle (Mansfield 2017). Given that the Lan Xang empire in 14th century was the largest country in the Indochinese peninsula, Muay Lao would have affected the development of martial arts in many Southeast Asian countries. Due to financial difficulties, competitions have not been held since 2016 and most of the practitioners quit Muay Lao or went to Thailand. As opposed to Muay Thai commercialised and developed into a major sporting industry (Kislenko 2009), Laotian martial artists strive to maintain the originality and legitimacy of Muay Lao as a traditional martial art.
Muay Lao was inherited to Chan Peng from his father Sida. Chan Peng’s pupil, Sisufhan Wura Gib, created the textbooks in 1965 and has been preserved by five apprentices. Most of the textbooks are believed to have been sent to France and Thailand in the colonial era and unidentified.
- Lao Sports Association - World Muay Federation - Muay Lao National Federation
- Kislenko, A. (2009). Culture and customs of Laos. Greenwood Publishing Group. - Mansfield, S., Koh, M, & Nevins, D. (2017). Laos. NY: Cavendish Square Publishing, LLC. - Ok, G., Choi, S. K., Park, C, Park, K. H. & Kim, T. Y. (2018). “Research into martial arts in five Asian countries (Laos, Myanmar, Vietnam, Thailand, Cambodia) – Final report (submitted to ICM)”.