The Mongkhon, or Mongkol (headband) and Prajeat (armbands) are often worn into the ring before the fight begins. They originate back in times when Thailand was in a constant state of war, where young men would tear off pieces of a loved one's clothing (often their mother's sarong) and wear it to battle for good luck as well as to ward off harmful spirits. In modern times the Mongkol is worn as a tribute to the gym that the Muay Thai fighter is fighting out of. The Mongkol is traditionally presented by a trainer to the fighter once he feels that the fighter is ready to represent the gym's name in the ring. Often after the fighter has finished the Wai Kru, the trainer will take the Mongkol off of his head and place it on their corner of the ring for luck.
Whether the fighter is a Buddhist or not, it is common for them to bring the Mongkol to a Buddhist monk who blesses it with good luck prior to stepping into the ring.
Although traditionally, armbands are given to Muay Thai Boxers as a token of good luck from a trainer. Western culture has seen us award coloured armbands as a grading system to show a level of proficiency and commitment towards their gym and Muay Thai training.
A Muay Thai fighter will have a specific goal of becoming the best they can be, fighting as often as possible and advancing through the rankings. The average Western person who practices Muay Thai tends to lead a different life, a busy life that does not afford the ability to practice full time, in stark comparison of a fighter in Thailand. This is usually because Western culture leads individuals to have day jobs and life commitments to tend to. In this regard grading offer a fantastic way of setting and achieving goals and of measuring progression in the art through a ranking system. Progression through a Muay Thai gardening system will not only require development in the technical aspect of Muay Thai, but one’s own personal development both physically and mentally.
A grade ranking system will usually see coloured armbands (or Prajeat) awarded at at different ranking levels of a structured syllabus.
To progress through a well-structured syllabus a student will be expected to perform what they have learned in a physically demanding assessment To reach the required fitness and technical ability. A student must be dedicated, as to pass each assessment will require training in and away from the gym. To progress, there is far more involved than turning up to the weekly Muay Thai class and taking the assessment every few months. An individual training in Muay Thai will need to spend countless hours running and fitness training along with learning the technical aspects conducted in the Muay Thai classes.
The fundamental techniques of Muay Thai are the core and foundation that technical ability is built upon. A grading syllabus will not only ensure that these fundamental techniques are leant and continuously developed, but that a student also becomes proficient in a further wider range of progressive and advanced techniques along with progression in physical and mental ability required to successfully complete the assessments. As can be expected the further a student advances through a grading system the more demanding it becomes, and as such, more demanding training will be required. As a student reaches the higher rankings their training becomes much the same as a fighter, requiring much of their time and commitment. Muay Thai grades are not easily awarded and as such achievement of a grade is something to be proud of.