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Saturday, September 25, 2010

Kelantan will lose out, says Tomoi instructor


PETALING JAYA: Tomoi or Muay Thai kickboxing competitions in Kelantan stand to lose many talented fighters if those with tattoos are barred from taking part, said Jak Othman, founder and chief instructor of the Jak Othman Kickboxing and Martial Arts Studios.

“It would be very unfair to the many Tomoi fighters who already have tattoos,” he said, adding that the state could be more flexible on the issue.
On the rule that fighters would have to wear a shirt to cover their aurat during competition, he said that it was acceptable.
“If they are good, they will still be good regardless of whether or not they wear a shirt.”
He also suggested that the Kelantan government refer to the sport as Muay Kelantan instead of Muay Thai to avoid conflict.
Kelantan Human Development, Youth, Sports and NGOs Secretariat deputy director Mohd Ridza Mohd Zain announced recently that Tomoi boxing competitions in the state would have to abide by Islamic rules.

Fighters would have to wear a shirt and would not be allowed to wear talismans or have tattoos on their body.

However, Saiprawat Boxing Gym founder Kiang Saiprawat said forcing Tomoi boxers to wear a shirt during competition goes against the culture and traditional practices of the sport.
Kiang, whose kickboxing gym is in Kangar, Perlis, added that Muay Thai required fast movement and that wearing a shirt could affect the fighter’s speed.
“Tomoi fighters traditionally wear a pair of shorts and tie a towel around the waist, and many of them have tattoos as it is a part of the culture.”
He explained that Thai soldiers, who practise Muay Thai, used to have words and symbols from Buddhist scripture tattooed on their bodies for protection during times of war.
“I don’t think it is practical to mix culture and religion,” the Malaysian-born Thai said.
“We should respect Thai culture.”

He added that the World Muay Thai Foundation might even stop Malaysia from participating in international championships if changes were made to the sport.

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