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Discover Traditional Martial Arts in Myanmar

Myanmar shares its border with 3 countries, namely, China, India and Thailand. Therefore, this long-term history country owns a rich martial arts heritage. It is amazing to see local people performing their traditional martial arts during your journey to this beautiful country.

2,000 years ago, the Indian monks introduced numerous types of martial arts to the Burmese. Then, when Chinese martial arts spread its power and effect to neighboring countries including Myanmar, it gradually mixed with the local ones and formed the modern martial art of Myanmar called Thaing.

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Thaing features with two main styles, martial art using hands, Bando, for instance, and the martial arts using a weapon, Banshay, for example. In addition, There are other forms of martial arts schools such as Naban (wrestling) and Lethwei (similar to kickboxing in some Southeast Asian countries).

Visiting some monasteries during your pilgrimage to Myanmar, you definitely see you monks practicing Bando. This form of martial art is the mixture of Indian and Chinese martial arts, including barehand gestures and fight techniques that mimic animals such as eagles, snakes, gaurs, leopard and monkey. Bando has different applications and forms. It is possible to divide Bando into four major schools: Nan Twin Thaing (Royal martial arts), Pyompya Thaing (firm but not hard, soft but not yeilding), Neganadai (that mimics gesture of snakes) and Shan Thaing (significantly impacted by Chinese martial arts).

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At the beginning, the students will practice doing horse stance (standing stance) and moving stances. Then, they learn defending, dodging, avoiding and techniques, all 9 defending techniques. Finally, they learn the attacking techniques.

In Bando martial arts, they often fight with enemies using a weapon. The locals seem to “favor” the bloodshed, so they prefer using weapons to using barehand when combating. Bando teaches them how to dodge the opponent’s attacks and use opponent’s weapon itself to defeat the opponent.

In addition to the school of barehand martial arts, Banshay, the martial arts using weapons is a typical one. The Burmese believe in weapons rather than their bare hands and bare feet. Weapons are mainly swords, cudgel, javelin and Kwant hawt cups (half of which is whip, half is a cudgel). Moreover, swords are often used in pairs and only withdrawn from the shell when it is really needed because once they pull the sword, they must disarm the enemy. Javelins and doubled – swords are often trained and practiced professionally as other techniques of the Japanese martial arts.

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