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Thai cadets perform record-breaking Muay Thai ‘wai khru’ ceremony

Muay Thai fighters perform the traditional Wai Kru ceremony during a festival for the Thai martial art in Rajabhakti Park in Hua Hin on February 6, 2023, as some 3,360 exponents gathered in an attempt to break the Guinness World Record for the most people taking part in the Wai Kru ritual at once.
Photo by LILLIAN SUWANRUMPHA/AFP via Getty Images

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    On Monday, 3,660 Thai army cadets, university students and volunteers set the world record for the largest Muay Thai ceremony, shattering the previous Guinness World Record of 250 participants.

    The volunteers joined thousands of Thai army cadets to perform a mass Muay Thai “wai khru” ceremony at Rajabhakti Park in Hua Hin, a village in Thailand. 

    During the dance, the performers stood before Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-Cha and six colossal statues of former kings. 

    Traditionally, the wai khru ceremony is performed before a match to show respect for teachers, parents and ancestors. 

    Locals and tourists gathered around as the fighters, clothed in red uniforms, white Mongkhon headbands and white Muay Kard Cheuk ropes — hemp hand wrappings — skillfully performed under the guidance of prominent Muay Thai fighter Sombat “Buakaw” Bancahmek.  

    Guinness adjudicator Kazayoshi Kirimura confirmed that the record was broken shortly after the performance, saying, “The final result is 3,660. Congratulations, you’re officially amazing.”

    Phukrit Purimchaithanat, a 27-year-old cadet who was part of the performance, said, “I felt really proud when I realized that we had set the Guinness World Record,” adding that the group had been practicing almost every day for the past few months, according to the AFP news agency.

    Hua Hin resident Siena Cruz watched the show with friends and said the pre-match ritual was integral, explaining that it is “connected to the tradition” of Muay Thai. 

    “To be part of another bit of history for Thailand, it’s bragging rights,” the 32-year-old told AFP. 

    In Thailand, Feb. 6 is known as Muay Thai Day to honor former King Sanphet VIII’s coronation in 1702. 

    He is remembered as “Phra Chao Suea,” or “Tiger King,” for his ferocity as a fighter. 

    The WBC MuayThai Association reported that the event was “completed flawlessly and elegantly by the Royal Thai Army,” adding that Feb. 6, 2023, will be remembered as a momentous day for Muay Thai.

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