The government of Myanmar during the Mid 1990’s began organising what had been a sport spread out in various ethnic areas with competitions held in villages into an organised sport with National Champions this is what they came up with for regulating the sport . I wrote this up back in 2004 and posted it on MMA.tv and thought I would share it here.

[section label=”Myanmar Letwhave” anchor=”Myanmar Letwhave”]

Myanmar traditional boxing

Myanmar traditional boxing (Myanmar Letwhave) had developed since many years ago. It is the national art of self-defense which stimulates hereditary courage and the national spirit. As all the Myanmar nationals can hold, boxing matches in every region in Myanmar, the traditional boxing becomes the national art of Self-defense. It is the heritage not only owned by one national but by all the nationals of Myanmar.

Myanmar traditional boxing is the high standard of fighting art without weapons. The traditional boxing match is man to man fighting. Thus, it is regarded as manliness. In an ancient saying, if a man has no tattoo marks, he is regarded as womanish. So also, if a man does not know the traditional boxing, he is regarded as a sissy. At the time of ancient Myanmar kings, traditional boxing matches were held in grand scale. (Pagan, Nagayone Myanma encyclopedia, No-12, Page from 175 to 179). The pictures of a man standing on his head, wrestlers and dancers can be found on the wall of a cave near Bagan. The picture of the two wrestlers are vivid. Both are stout and they look real sportsmen. It is assumed that Boxing might develop in the Bagan era.

Myanmar traditional boxing (Myanmar Letwhave)

Myanmar traditional boxing (Myanmar Letwhave)

During the era of Inwa, the two boxers, Augnsegon Thangarazar and Shangyi fought in the boxing match. The former killed the latter with his right hand. Long, long ago, the militant soldiers who know the military strategy were trained the art of boxing, some historians said that at the time of Thibaw, the last King of Konebaung dynasty, good boxers are put in the royal list as Letwhave Taw Thut.

The boxers of prewar period could break bamboo poles with their fists. And they were able to hit certain mark on the face. They could fight tirelessly from sunrise to sunset to get high reward to get the champions flag (Alan Lu Pwe).

After the independence in postwar period, Myanmar traditional boxing revived as the national heritage. The Boxers, mostly farmers, kept the Myanmar traditional boxing alive.

Twenty of Myanmar top boxers were sent to Thailand in 1955 and to China in 1960 to participate in the boxing matches hold there. Said U Bo Sein who had been to China. Boxing matches are being held at the time of the Shwedagon Pagoda festivals, independence days and Farmers days. So that Myanmar nationals can deeply enjoy them.

In the past, the boxing matches were held on the ground of about 24 feet wide. The ground was covered with sand or husks of paddy. Nowadays, the boxers fight in the ring which is 20 feet wide. They wear only short pants and the top is tied by longyi of triangle shape. Their hands are bandaged. There are two references ( Ko Wyne Daing) in the ring and three judges on the bench (Khone Daing). Myanmar traditional music is being played while they are fighting.

Various spirits are worshipped before the match is started for the successful ending.

Myanmar traditional boxing is an art of fighting and self-defense. When a boxer fights his opponent he can tactfully use his feet, hands, knees, elbows and head. (Nine Big Weapons). Therefore, the famous old boxers said that there were nine entering hits and nine defending. They said that fists were to blow, elbows to make a side thrust, head to hit, feet, knees and forearms to strike.

[section label=”Today Burmese Boxing” anchor=”Today Burmese Boxing”]

Nowadays Myanmar traditional boxing

Nowadays, three kinds of Myanmar traditional boxing matches are generally held according to the size and types of the festivals. They are:

  1. GYAR PWE (Interim boxing match)
  2. ALAN LU PWE (Boxing match to get champions belt)
  3. SEIN KHAW PWE (Boxing match of challenge)

Thus, by preserving and practicing Myanmar traditional boxing, patriotism and union spirit are strengthened and uplifted. Besides, there are many advantages to be developed which are good character, health and fitness, self-confidence, safety at work, defence of the country and Myanmar young people’s love for their country.

Burmese Boxing

Burmese Boxing

[section label=”Rules” anchor=”Rules”]

The rules of boxing matches

The rules and regulations of Myanmar traditional boxing matches varied in accord with different regions long ago. But at present the rules and regulations observed and practiced by the boxers are the same throughout Myanmar.

Now, Myanmar traditional boxing matches are held as Gyar Pwe (interim Boxing match), Alan Lu Pwe (Boxing match to get champions belt) and Sein Khaw Pwe (Boxing match of challenge) according to the size of the festivals. The competitors must strictly follow the rules and regulations mentioned below:

  1. The competitors must have medical checked up and those medically unfit will not be admitted.
  2. They have to dress neatly and their hair and nails have to be cut. They have to get on the stage from the prescribed corner in prescribed manner.
  3. There must not be any hard things under the bandages and in the socks. If these are found, the boxer will be expelled and action will be taken against him.
  4. Oil must not be used on the Body more than necessary and chili style ointment must
    not be used.
  5. At the beginning of the match, every competitor has to demonstrate his style of fighting.
  6. He can worship according to his faith but it must not be against the national culture.
  7. Team leaders or trainers and judges must arrange the competitors to be matched so that they cannot be wounded.
  8. The two competitors must not right each other until the ring referees them to do so.
  9. They must stop fighting if the referees shout halt or show with hand or foot.
  10. If a boxer falls down while fighting, he must be lying flat on the floor.
  11. The boxers must not scratch, bite, pull the hair and kick the balls of each other.
  12. If they are holding each other for a long time, the referees must stop the match.
  13. If one of the two boxers steps back and gives up, the match must be stopped.
  14. If one boxer falls and lies flat on the floor, he must not be attacked. If he is attacked, the attacker will lose the match.
  15.  If the two boxers are pretending to fight, the referees must stop the match and take action against them.
  16. If the referees and judges ask one of the boxers to give up the fight, he must willingly accept it.
  17. Boxers must compete according to three conditions that is one will lose because of fear, (Give up the match, because of injury, because of inability to fight any more.)
  18. Referees and judges must laid down the number of rounds.
  19. Boxers must not sleep, look back and run round in the ring. If the does not pay
    attention to the frequent warnings of the referees and judges, he will be declared as a loser.
  20. In the interim matches (Gyar Pwe), the boxers must compete three rounds with three minutes in one round, If there is no winner and loser, the match will end in a draw. If one boxer falls down, referees will take care of him for two minutes. After that he becomes the loser.
  21. In the matches to get the champions belt (Alan Lu Pwe), the boxers must compete on three conditions, Kyauk Shone (lose because of fear), Kwe Shone (Lose because of injury) and Thet Lone Shone (because of inability to fight any more). If there is no winner or loser, the match must be continued another thirty minutes. If one of the boxers has injury cut and bleeds, it must be approved by the doctor he cannot continue to fight.
  22. If one boxer falls down in the Alan Lu Pwe, the referee will take care of him. But if he falls down and can’t to get up after three calls for challenge, he will be declared.
  23. In 5 rounds match Sein Khaw Pwe, the boxers must compete five rounds by three minutes fight and three minutes rest. They are allowed to extend the rest time to six minutes only once during first 3 rounds. If one boxer is wounded during first 3 rounds, he can win the match with the approval of the doctor and the decision of the referees and the competition jury.
  24. In 7 rounds match Sein Khaw Pwe, the boxers must compete seven rounds by three minutes fight and three minutes rest. They allow to extend the rest for six minutes once in first 6 rounds. If one boxer is wounded during first 6 rounds, he can win the match with the approval of the doctor and the decision of the referees and competition jury.
  25. In 10 rounds match Sein Khaw Pwe, the boxers must compete ten rounds with three minutes fight and three minutes rest, They are allowed to extend the rest time for six minutes twice in first 7 rounds, If one boxer is wounded during first 7 rounds, he can win the match with the approval of the doctor and decision of referees and competition jury.
  26. In 12 rounds match Sein Khaw Pwe, the boxers with 3 minutes fight and 3 minutes rest must compete twelve rounds. They are allowed to extend the rest time to six minutes 3 times in first 8 rounds. If one boxer is wounded during first 8 rounds, he can win the match with the approval of the doctor and the decision of the referees and the competition jury.

In the traditional Myanmar Boxing, the boxers can use tactfully and skilfully their feet, hands, knees, elbows and head in fight.

Nevertheless, the boxers must observe the rules and regulation laid down by the Myanmar Traditional Boxing Federation and boxing matches are being held in accord with our tradition.