One of the most important traditions of Muaythai is Wai Khru (Paying Respect to Teachers). In order to become a fully-fledged Muaythai fighter, a person has to pass through a series of ceremonies. First comes the Initiation as a Trainee Fighter Ceremony (Kuen Khru), in which the khru muay accepts young fighters as his students and pledges to teach them to the best of his ability. After fighters have been accepted, they must demonstrate a good conduct, diligence and endurance, in addition to training as hard as they can, following implicitly all the teacher’s rules.
During their apprenticeship, young fighters will experience the second type of Wai Khru ritual, the Annual Homage-Paying Ceremony (Wai Khru Prajam Pee). This annual ceremony is usually held on Muaythai Day (March 17) for young fighters to pay respect to their teachers and souls of teachers long passed away. The ceremony then progresses to the students honoring all the teachers present, who will mark sacred symbols on the fighters’ forehead in order to bestow prosperity and success upon them – a custom known as jerm. The ceremony culminates with the third form of Wai Khru, the Ritual Dance of Homage (Wai Khru Ram Muay) performed by the fighters as a mark of respect.
It is only when fighters have passed all these three milestones (initiation, training and participation in contests) that they are entitled to call themselves as real Muay Thai fighters. When fighters have satisfied their teachers on all these counts, then they can participate in the fourth Wai Khru ritual, the Initiation as a Teacher Ceremony (Khrob Khru), which bestows on them the rank of khru muay and again involves a performance of the Ritual Dance of Homage.