INTERVIEW SERIES: AJAHN SUCHART
Q: What age did you start training muay thai ?
A: 9 , 8 realistically because we learn before we train. People around the world don't understand the culture, but thai boys they really start at 8 learning and training, and practicing for at least a year. They keep training and they fight by age 9 - 11.
Q: When did you have your first fight?
A: I was 9. People here in North America they start training at 6-7 years old and the look fabulous, but they don't understand the culture. Muay thai is so physical and hard for the kids, in the Thai culture they are studying and researching before they fight. Children under 8 years of age in competition you can get hurt and seriously injured. Normally a professional will start training at 8 or 9 and they will fight by the age 10. But you must be at least 14 year old, and weight at least 100 pounds in order to receive a fight purse.
Before the age of 14 you can get paid as well, but it is considered cultural pay. 51 years ago when i was 9 years old you would get paid 2$. The purse isn't seen as a pay, it is more like a gift. Then the gift becomes a present , and the present becomes a trophy. Finally the trophy becomes the payment.
Q: When did you bring Muay thai to Canada
A: 26 to 27 years ago.
Q: Where do you see Muay Thai Canada in the next few years? Where do want to see it?
The thing is the american sport of Muay Thai grows faster than the Canadian sport. For example football, baseball, basketball they are so big. Its not just big for the fans, but big revenue. Here after 33 years everyone is doing it all individually, We need to come together and grow the sport.
Sadly so many gyms scam people, they advertise muay thai and when I go there I want to cry. The kids have parents who probably want their child to be good, but they aren't going to be. Its not a contribution to the sport, or country of the culture. When they represent their country, represent Canada I almost don't want to see it, I close my eyes.
I can tell you, I've seen it in different countries. In Russia, China, Ukraine and much of Europe muay thai is very popular. But when the professionals/ experts go to the ring, that isn't muay thai, its kickboxing. They win because they are strong, they win because they are bigger than somebody on the street , theres no form, no style. no emotion, theres no offense and theres no defence its not art. Its a martial and art, and there is no art. Just brutal martial and no art.
Q: What changes would you implement in the Muay Thai Community?
I would like to see the community embrace the muay thai culture of one country, one nation, one language, one mind as an ideal of the sport. I have 6-7 schools in Israel and Mexico. Its easy to teach, in Israel, and Mexico as they embody this philosophy of muay thai.
Q: What kind of work went into bringing Muay Thai into Canada?
For the past 26 - 27 years I did it properly by law, by rule, by regulation, by tradition. I didnt do anything to build a business to go bankrupt, I took the time, and it took me 27 years. I made sure that businesses were capable of becoming organizations and that the organizations related to the culture. The culture relates to the sport of Muay Thai and the sport relates to the government. They all connect.
Q: Knowing that culture is the essence of muay thai , what would you like to see implemented with Muay Thai going forward?
In March, 2015 the Government of Ontario emailed me and personally called me and said "Congratulations Master Suchart, Muay Thai has been approved by the Ministry of Health and Promotion, and Ministry of Tourism Culture and Sport". But the sport is still on probation. You have to voice the government policy. What is the law - you have to follow the law, you have to prove to us your expertise as cultural and relocation to tradition
Tucker: So you have to make sure that the tradition is implemented?
Suchart: Yes exactly. Realistically by law in Ontario or in Canada Muay Thai to become a provincial sport or national sport of Canada there are steps.
1. The government purposely are protecting the tradition of muay thai, and the style of muay thai, to keep the tradition as professional as possible, and only the instructors- the krus can teach it.
My students - the next generation- have to keep it longer and longer, not change Muay Thai and not mix it. That is the law
2nd. To preserve Thai nations culture, the culture of thai people , thats it. The government wants to see muay thai be more like boxing. You cannot mix in boxing. Judo for example is a solid sport, a single sport which you cannot mix, wrestling you cannot mix either. Now I think that the board director they misunderstood, they thought about how this is liberal country, where you can mix Muay Thai with other sports, but you need to follow the law and understand. I have fought for this for 26 years, and im still fighting to regulate this, to regulate standard muay thai so that its true to the sport authority of Thailand and their curriculums too.
Q: How are you going to enact these changes in the Muay Thai community?
A: My way is educational, if they want to be a business they have to go to university and have a specific faculty, im not going to change anymore I've gone to far to tell you the truth. I've spoken with the government and the government has said that you cannot regulate everybody because they are businesses, I wont regulate everybody but they aren't qualified. Muay thai ontario has 157 gyms, students of mine have opened gyms across Canada for a total of 87. The really quality ones that are doing more than 70% of Muay Thai teaching there is only about 50. You cannot let it fall though, if you let it go they are crap. They dilute muay thai, the culture and in the end they will scam the neighbours.
I've been working with the pc government, as well as working with the liberals and ndp. This is my culture this is my heritage , and i have to protect it and preserve it. You have to come true and straight to the system , you cannot jump ahead.
I talked to Stephan, the Minister of Education and we will sit down and talk to him early next year in 2020. We are going to put Muay thai into schools -high schools, college and universities, with curriculum and programs .
All the Kru that have a c class license they can teach at a school or high school level. A Kru with B or C class license can teach at a college or university, but they need to go to Thailand to certify.
Tucker: How long does it take to certify?
Suchart: One week at a time, but there are many times you'll have to go, its a little bit of research each time. Its a specific system by curriculum and they need to learn it to qualify as Kru's.
I promise you by 2025 that Muay thai will be taught in schools, and students will be able to get a credit in college and university. When you learn the root of muay thai, it teaches you to be kind and strong, not to beat up a little one, it teaches you that you're better than her, and your better than him, so take care of them.
Tucker: It sorta humbles you?
Thats it, peace and stop the violence.
Where do you see the standard for Muay Thai in the future?
By 2021-2023 every 6 months the government of Thailand, including the Muay Thai commissioner of Ontario are going to go around to each gym, and check out the gyms/schools like an inspector of Muay Thai.
Tucker: is that something your personally going to do?
Somebody will have to go from the government , and im going to supervise it. But I want to admit a person to do it for me, I dont want to do everything myself. Maybe one of my students.
So its going to be mandatory that the follow certain steps .
1: they meet the curriculums standards
2 that instructor they have a qualified license
3 a proper gym and place for saftey, a ring to train and fight in, fitness area, a proper office and change rooms and bathrooms for both men and woman. This can become an industry of business, industry of Muay thai.
Tucker ; So this is going to be the standard you are going to set?
It has to be, you're gonna see in the next 5 years from now maybe we'll have 200 standard gyms across ontario alone, everyone will make a living off their work.