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Is Muay Lert Rit a Martial Art for women?

In recent years Muay Lert Rit went from total oblivion to being one of the fastest growing fighting arts. Based on ancient Siamese military strategies and close combat techniques, Lert Rit is now ranked among the world’s “deadliest martial arts” by many bloggers and martial artists. The updated version of the ancient combative art that is practiced in all IMBA branches worldwide is raising the interest of self-defence fans for its undeniable efficiency. However, while it seems to be a males’ favourite system, the same cannot yet be said for female practitioners. In fact, the percentage of women involved in Lert Rit is still low, compared to the males’ numbers. In my opinion Muay Lert Rit is a martial art that perfectly suits the self-defence needs of female practitioners for technical and structural reasons. I have been helped to focus the following essential points by one of the leading IMBA’s female teachers, Arjarn Marika Vallone: understanding the female point of view is very difficult for a man, therefore I am a firm believer is sharing thoughts with female practitioners. This kind of brain storming is priceless in order to open a male Muay Boran/Lert Rit instructor’s mind thus helping him to grow and become a much better martial artist and teacher. After all, when confronted by a bigger and stronger opponent, a male fighter is exactly in the same condition of physical inferiority a woman faces all the time. Learning to analyse combat situations from a woman’s perspective will make a male practitioner more objective and his fighting techniques more effective. Let’s see the 4 main reasons why Lert Rit is a perfect Martial Art for women.

Point 1: Muay Lert Rit is based on instinctive movements, not on artificial techniques. Most of IMBA Muay Lert Rit’s offensive and defensive techniques are classified according to the type of Energy Movement that they derive from: each body gesture can be “polished” in order to express your psychophysical energy with maximum effectiveness by making it usable for combat purposes. In-depth studies of the most instinctive gestures (Gross Motor Skills), that can be easily implemented even if someone is exposed to intense stress and the resulting adrenaline rush, have shown that such actions result from a limited number of energy usages. Through a careful process of selection and rationalization, such movements have naturally been transformed into gestures aimed at expressing explosive attacks or defences. The result of this analysis has given rise to eight Basic Energy Principles, which in turn, fluidly combined, produce an almost infinite number of combat actions. Remembering the right technique for the right situation is not possible: however, when the body has assimilated how to instinctively use the correct energy pattern to counter a given threat, it will react without conscious thought, making the defence quick, aggressive and efficient. (image 1)


Point 2: Muay Lert Rit is not based on muscle strength but it relies on “battle energy”. According to Siamese tradition the special kind of energy that comes into play in all-out combat is called Phalang Yuth (battle energy). Because of its great power, the keys to its development have been regarded for centuries as a secret to be kept hidden. Compared to Gam Lang or muscle energy, Phalang Yuth is much harder to define and difficult to develop. However, training the muscles without caring for Phalang Yuth is not a wise choice. For these reasons, one of the fundamental tasks of a good IMBA Lert Rit instructor is to train his students to understand the Art’s eight Energy Principles and to practice them daily. Through a series of simple exercises executed regularly with or without hand weights or otherwise employing specific apparatus (iron bars, heavy clubs, wooden rings and the like), a Lert Rit fighter’s “battle energy” may be increased drastically. Most of the times women are attacked by males who are obviously stronger than they are. Phalang Yuth can be the “equalizer” that make the defender’s strikes capable of hurting an aggressor that is superior in terms of mass and physical strenght. (image 2)


Point 3: all Muay Lert Rit students learn since lesson 1 to aim their strikes exclusively at the opponent’s vital points. The study of sensitive or vital points is of utmost importance for the effectiveness of the attacks executed against an opponent. Any strike (carried out with a properly conditioned natural weapon) that attains a vital point produces an enormously greater effect than an equivalent one that is thrown against a less sensitive body area. Knowing the location of these points is also very important in order to be able to properly neutralize attacks carried out against one of them. Muay Lert Rit is a fighting style based on short range striking as a primary combat strategy: each short range blow must be aimed at a specific weak point to maximize its effect. Through knowledge of anatomy and physiology a good fighter can better render an opponent helpless by interfering with one of the following body systems:
– Nervous system
– Breathing system
– Bone system
– Muscle system
– Skin system
It is also true that the mere theoretical knowledge of a large number of vital points that are very difficult to reach in the chaos of a real confrontation is virtually useless: this is especially true if the opponent is dressed in heavy and stuffed clothes (for example for particularly severe climatic conditions). IMBA Lert Rit’s extremely practical approach consists in identifying a very limited number of easily reachable targets that guarantee the success of offensive actions and then continuously train to reach those points with any kind of technique and natural weapon used. A physically weaker woman can actually hurt or maim a stronger aggressor by focusing her (battle) energy-powered strikes on the attacker’s main weak points: when the fury of a female Lert Rit student is unleashed it can produce serious damage to the over confident and careless male attacker. (image 3)

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Point 4: Muay Lert Rit practice builds self-confidence.
In the words of Anni Paavilainen: “Practicing Muay Boran (and Lert Rit) has brought me a lot of self-confidence and belief in my skills which applies also outside the gym in everyday life. I have crossed my boundaries so many times that I didn’t know would be possible in just two years. This has enhanced my confidence not only in sports but in many different areas, too. I feel like I have employed the spirit of the art in many things that I do on a daily basis from relationships to studies and work etc. Maybe this is the beginning of finding the mystical balance that martial arts seems to create in their practitioners.” (image 4)

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About Arjarn Marika Vallone:

– She trains in Muay Thai with Arjarn De Cesaris since 2000.
– Former Muay Thai and Muay Kard Chiek fighter. Silver medallist at WMF World Championships in Bangkok (2007) and at WMF European Championships in Prague (2004). Italian Muay Kard Chiek Champion in Rome 2008. Gold medal in the International Muay Boran Forms Championships in Ayuttaya 2008
– Muay Boran IMBA 14th Khan since 2016
– IMBA Lert Rit Qualified Instructor
– Combat Muay Boran Instructor (level 1)
– Author of the book: “Mythology and technique of Muay Boran” (2015)
– Arjarn Marika teaches in Rome, Italy and has conducted several Muay Boran and Muay Lert Rit seminars in Europe (Italy, Greece, Finland) and Latin America (Mexico).

Suggested readings:
IMBA Warrior Ladies by Maritza Gamboa Warrior Ladies member (IMBA Colombia)
How my prejudice against martial arts disappeared by Anni Paavilainen Warrior Ladies member (IMBA Finland)
IMBA Warrior Ladies Facebook page
Muay Lert Rit – Siamese Warrior Art. The official guide