It feels like the very air itself is electrified. Once you step into the arena the energy of the justling, shouting crowd overwhelms the senses. The tickets for these seats are way too expensive but you have your connections so it didn’t hurt your wallet too much. Still you are here in the midst of a true Thai carnival of sights and sounds, all is excitement that can barely be contained. The din of noise threatens to raise the roof! Carrying it all along you hear the rhythmic high pitching whine and *ching*, bleet and drum of the wai kru ram muay. The music sounds to your ears like it is from an even stranger and more exotic place. You can only imagine what it’s like up there in the ring. Men calling out bets with a shouting and frenzied voice going higher and higher with each well landed punch or kick as one fighters victory seems assured over anothers defeat. It’s hot and smokey and thick with emotion here. A mans world for sure pumping out testosterone with every impression felt on you. This is the Thai sport of Kings born from the warrior arts that have kept Thailand free for one thousand years. All around is chaos focused on the main event playing out in the ring. A pair of combatants clash with fists and knees and elbows in a fury of violent yet unimaginable beauty like pugilist ballet! A symphony of flying kicks and punches, Straight punch, overhead punch, hook and swing! Savage poetry. Spinning back fist, jump punch and upper cut! Superhuman blurs of skilled hands and feet deliver a barrage to defy the imagination. They do battle until one or the other can no longer stand or sometimes get’s killed. Even now that still happens but mostly upcountry along the borders of Burma or maybe Cambodia. It’s illegal but it happens. The price for blood lust can be high. It is the time of the gladiators reborn but this is far from ancient Rome or even ancient Thailand. Elbows not to be out done offer up their own arsenal elbow slash, forward elbow thrust, spinning elbow and chop! A sudden stunning blow and one opponent is send crashing to the ring floor. He doesn’t get up again but the crowd explodes in jubilation. The champion still standing obviously the crowds favorite still, his opponent is not getting up. Something is wrong as men crowd around him calling for the doctor. Even the champion now is kneeling by the fallen fighters side a look of grave concern on his bruised face. It is an odd scene of caring and grace to see. In America you would never see the winner totally forget everything like this. After a few tense moments, the crowd pausing to see what is happening the young fighter down on the mat stirs. He’ll live but must be taken out of the ring on a stretcher. Relieved the champion now smiles and welcomes the cheers for his victory. It is a strange experience to see such fury and gentleness but then this is part of the experience and why you are here. This is Thailand and is a world that seems almost as magical as it is paradoxical from anything you knew in the West. After a brief intermission the next contestants for the ring come and it begins again. The dance, the music begins again and swells. You are enthralled to watch as it all begins again. It is a ritual, like life, a spectacle to be played out over and over again.