I stumbled on this documentary the other day and I thought it was worth a share. I don’t have a great amount of knowledge on Lethwei other than it’s Myanmar’s (formerly Burma) version of Muay Thai.
All the countries in that area have their own fighting systems, which to be honest are all very similar. You have Pradal Serey from Cambodia, Muay Lao from Loas, Tomoi from Malaysia, Muay Thai from Thailand and of course Lethwei from Myanmar.
Lethwei is the same as Muay Thai where it’s fought over a duration of five, three minute rounds but the only difference is there are no gloves you can head butt and if there is no knockout then the contest is a draw.
I was actually asked to fight in one of these shows when I was in Thailand on the border of Myanmar but I thought better of it. I break my hands in 8oz gloves I’d hate to see the state of them after a bareknuckle match.
I have seen countless arguments about which system came first but it’s a hard argument to prove as their histories are so intertwined with war and conflict many of the early records have been destroyed.
Muay Thai has excelled massively in not only standard but in popularity world wide. In my opinion this has to be down to Thailand’s huge tourist industry pumping money in to the country and its avoidance of any real political unrest. Both Cambodia and Myanmar have suffered unimaginable attrocities in recent history making it difficult for any real progression and tourism practically non-existent.
If you’re interested you can watch a Muay Thai vs Lethwei match here as Thailand and Myanmar often still compete against each either as they did hundreds of years ago.