Trainee Fighter Initiation

Trainee Fighter Initiation (Kuen Khur,Yok Khur)

In the past, before a teacher accepted a new student, he first spent a great deal of time considering the proposition, trying to ascertain whether or not the person was really worthy of becoming his student. Some young fighters even initially had to act as servants to their prospective teachers until such time as the teachers were convinced of their suitability and good character. This process sometimes took a year – or even several years – to reach a resolution.

When a teacher agrees to accept a new student, the initiation ceremony is held, usually on a Thursday, which is traditionally regarded as Wan Khru (Teachers’ Day). As they make a formal request to be accepted, the students present the customary symbols of respect to their prospective teacher (krueng sakkara buchaa khru). Unlike the set requirements for Buwong Suwong, there is some leeway for personal choice, although candles, incense sticks and flowers are invariably included. Another customary offering is a symbolic amount of money, like nine baht, “nine” in Thai being “gao,” a word which, with a different Thai spelling but identical pronunciation, also means “to step forwards or advance,” giving it a hidden propitious significance.

Students pledge in front of the teacher that they will be diligent and hardworking, and that they will respect and obey the teacher, following his rulings to the letter. The teacher, for his part, officially accepts the students and promises to instruct them to the utmost of his abilities.