HOUSTON, TEXAS, U.S.A. (13 January 2014)—As the art and sport of Muaythai gains popularity in the Americas and around the world, it gets one step closer to being accepted as a medal sport in the Olympic Games.

Since its founding in 1995, the World Muaythai Council (WMC) and its amateur arm, the International Federation of Muaythai Amateur (IFMA) are highly organized, sanctioning Olympic-style tournaments in countries around the world.  However, among the small details that are keeping Muaythai athletes from walking in the Olympic Parade of Nations for their respective countries:  a global education certification standard for all athletes and instructors.

In a sport that has claimed that “the belt is in the ring” and that know-how only comes from hardcore fight experience, Muaythai is in overhaul mode, taking a new approach to educating its athletes and instructors, and working overtime to meet Olympic standards so that it may be accepted in the near future. 

Enter the Muaythai IGLA-WMC Education System: whose goal is to get all practicing gyms, schools, and academies to meet training and skills standards, as well as certifying them to foster accountability and professionalism.  The WMC has made clear its objectives not just for the sake of entering the Olympic Games, but more important, for the preservation of its most prized National Treasure—the art and sport of Muaythai.

The concept of meeting athlete and instructor certification standards is not new to Olympic sports organizations. They’ve been implemented for decades by our national soccer, Tae Kwon Do, and boxing federations—all of which require their coaches to be high qualified and certified in their respective sports to field the most competitive athletes for International and Olympic competition.  This should come as no surprise, for when it comes to national pride, the country should send its best.

Pramajarn Kayan Sitsanthaparn, a native-born American from Texas and Founder and Chairman of the Muay Thai Alliance of Texas, travelled to Thailand last month to sign an agreement with the WMC and Muaythai IGLA which grants him rights as Sole Licensee and Educational Administrator in the Eastern United States for purposes of implementing the curriculum and certification system.

Sitsanthaparn, whose educational background includes degrees in Kinesiology (Sport Science) and Sports Management, and who was also a former professional athlete and certified coach in both soccer and Muaythai stated, “It’s been a long time coming.  In order for our art and sport to survive and be preserved, we can no longer rely on informal educational techniques.  This needs to be curtailed if our art and sport is to distance itself from the ‘free-for-all Bloodsport’ image that’s plagued it.  Without legitimacy, we will continue to be in disarray.  The educational goals of the system are congruent with those implemented by other sports federations, and moves us all closer to seeing Muaythai as a medal sport in the Olympics.”

“Speaking from experience as a former footballer and coach in the States,” he added, “the United States Soccer Federation requires that even volunteer coaches that teach and manage a recreational team of 6 year old players be certified by the Federation.  Regardless of the fact that I played pro ball, if I wanted to coach professional level players, I still had to apply for my license, take the exam, and meet the requirements—which if you’re experienced and know what you’re doing—shouldn’t be hard to do.  The standard for Muaythai is no different and serves to protect the integrity of our art and sport as well as its practitioners.”

“It goes without saying that the more competitive the age group and skill level, the greater need to renew and upgrade your license,” he added.

The education system approved by the WMC and developed by Muaythai IGLA Company Ltd. is a complete and comprehensive educational curriculum developed by the foremost recognized grandmasters for the art and sport in Thailand.  It can also be said that perhaps the secrets of Muaythai have finally been unlocked for the rest of the world to see and learn.  The system consists of a curriculum that is divided into four parts:  Level One (Beginning Skills), Level Two (Intermediate Skills), Level Three (Advanced Skills), and Level Four (Professional Skills).  Testing for the first two courses will be held at the local and national levels while testing for the third and fourth courses will take place in Thailand.  All results and certification will be cataloged and kept on file by the World Muaythai Council and are recognized by the Sport Authority of Thailand, the Thai Ministry of Education, and the Thai Ministry of Culture.

Signing on to serve as the System’s Licensee and Administrator for 26 of the 50 United States, Sitsanthaparn will have his work cut out for him, but he already sees a bright future at institutions of higher education.  His vision is consistent with the fight to build a legacy of legitimacy for Muaythai in the United States—as an art form as well as a sport.

“While the system will be made available to private clubs and gyms, my goal is to also implement the curriculum and standards in universities and colleges of my assigned territory and to see Muaythai course offerings in the future.”  Sitsanthaparn said.  “This can eventually lead to a scholarly approach to Muaythai in the form of theory and coaching courses as well as research dedicated to learning more about our art and sport so that it may be preserved for future generations to enjoy.  This approach further demonstrates that we’re serious about preserving our art and sport as well as increase the demand for highly qualified instructors to teach those courses.”

“In the process, not only will we be in position to help make the sport safer for athletes and practitioners alike, we will be able to develop formally trained athletes for inclusion in the athlete pool.   In the end, I am confident that this approach will help elevate the talent level for Olympic competition, and make for exciting Thai-caliber amateur and professional events in our country,” he concluded.

In an effort to better serve the American Muaythai landscape, the WMC has divided the United States into two territories:  West and East.  The base of operations for the Eastern Territory (shown on map) will be in Houston,Texas and administered by Sitsanthaparn.  To date, an administrator for the Western Territory has not been appointed. 

The Muaythai IGLA-WMC Education System will be made available throughout the year with the first wave of testing scheduled for the summer of 2014.

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