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Myanmarickboxing goes down the stream while foreigner discovers old martial arts | Post Magazine
It is December; the drought in flooded and disaster-prone Myanmar and a period of Tibetan temples and Karen New Years. Last but not least, the celebration is characterised by violent fights in municipal venues like this one, the Thein-Phyu Stadium in Yangon, and by provisional wrestling in many counties.
However, this is the Myanmar lethwis game, a violent, millennia-old kickboxing style with no ankles. Well-known as the nine limb artwork, it is represented in mural paintings in the ancient town of Bagan, which date from the Pyu city-states (2nd c. to 1050 AD), a period in which many in the Irrawaddy River basin were converting to Buddhism.
This is a game that seems to contradict the principles of the religion of peace fulfilling and unselfish action. However, for millennia its regulations have remained largely unaltered and its appeal to Myanmar's peasantry remains unbroken. The games, which are particularly well-liked in Japan and Russia, are also starting abroad.
Lathwei now has its first international open track championship (the weights differ from organizer to organizer; the open track is regarded as the most profiled belt). Franco-Canadian Dave "The Nomad" Leduc won the 2016 Gürtel and has since pledged to bring the word out. It will be the next MMA, or an economical blessing for Myanmar, as it was for Myanmar, as it was for Thailand with Munay Tha.
The 58-year-old Win Zin Oo operates the Thut Ti Lethwei Club, which is situated on a small side road in front of Kabar Aye Pagoda Road in Yangon, just off Inya Lake. Approximately 50 men come through his front door to practice in a whole months, he says, and he has coached four Open Winner Masters. Alien combatants began to arrive in his 2011 gymnasium, says Win Zin Oo.
A peasant couple and now a trainer at the Thut Ti Latvia Club, Lone Chaw is one of the four openweight winners in the open weights championship who were coached by Win Zin Oo and kept the belts from 2004 to 2009. Saw Gaw Mu Do, the latest 70kg Saw Gaw Mu Do, is known as Gaw Gaw in battle groups.
Saw The Aung is his uncles, a 60kg champ in the end of the 90s. Gaw Gaw, like many young men dealing with leadwei, began to fight young at the tender ages of 12. Counseled by his dad, elder bro and minister (he is part of the small local Christendom minority), he entered the Thut Ti Latvia Club in Yangon at the early ages of 19 to further his education.
"The Nomad " Leduc, the current open-weights' champions and the first non-Myanmese to retain the championship, says Dave "The Nomad" Leduc. The 26-year-old former muai shark from Gatineau, Quebec, Canada, won the Yangon Girdle of Myanmar lehwei legends Tun Tun Min in December 2016.
Leduc, a man of similar strength and hilarity, came to letwei on a way that led him from practice in sandou and denet kiss do to mutay Tai battles in Phuket and Bangkok, Thailand. Leduc's nonorthodox approach and a person attracted to the very ends of their lives were inherently suitable for the lethwis even before he knew the game was there.
When his former executive acquainted him with LETHWI in August 2016 and proposed that he should battle in Yangon, Leduc took the opportunity. But his first match - with a youngest warrior ever to have an open-girl, Too Too Too Too - ended in a two-decision. A little over a year ago, shortly after he won the open beltline, his wedding was broadcast on Canadian Irina Terehova on Yangon TV.
Nearly a year later he successfully protected the girdle against the kickboxer Corentin Jallon, punished the Frenchman for the length of the match, which ended in a tie and opened low incisions and showed the 9th limbs - the use of blows to the throat. On the ground known as Dawa (pronounced "day-wah") - a piece about his name, which can mean "protector" or "angel of death" - Leduc is planning to open his own rural village center and start a Myanmar school.
But he soon wants to withdraw from the competition and concentrate on managing the fitness studio and nurturing the passion for a game that has become an obsession. After all, he's a great athlete. Over the years, he thinks, the world will be at eye level with the most favourite martial arts. Shwe Wah Tun, the longest incumbent open-weight champions in the story of Leo, kept the title for 12 years.
Though not a Phoenix Myanmar Lethwei Gym trainer, he often comes by to guide young soldiers, lift pods and share company with a brotherhood of combatants. 36 -year-old Daw Na Aung practices at Phoenix Myanmar Lethwei Gym. Since he was nine years old, he has fought more than 200 fights.
One of the many awards from Daw Na Aung is the Mon State Championships Gürtel, which can only be given to a contestant who has been unbeaten for three years. He has participated in five fights since December, beginning with the yearly competition at Insein Township Railway Soccer Ground, for which contestants are pulled from the best Yangon gymnasiums in lethwa to open the Karen New Year festivities.
39-year-old Thiri Aung is part of a group that includes the Phoenix Myanmar Latvia Weigyma, in the center of Yangon. After her first workout three years ago, gemmologist Thiri Aung has fallen in Love with Leywei and partially opened the gymnasium to help the combatants and give them a better way of living after the last bells.