Thai fighting schools are generally engaged in Muay Thai or in Muay Boran classes as sports. Some schools may teach Muay Chaya or other local Muay Thai styles but Muay Lerdrit (or more commonly known as Lerdrit) seems to be a special threat available only to the Royal Thai Army.
However, the U.S. Army joined training with the Royal Thai Army to practice this fighting system for self defense during regional contingencies (Cobra Gold Events. See Images).
Developed from the base of Muay Boran especially for commando fighting situation, Lerdrit is a close combat fighting system that utilize mainly open hand strikes, forward pressure, kicks, knees, locking, grappling and elbows. Most strikes are aimed at important pressure points with the target of quickly making the opponent unable to fight.
Lerdrit is essentially all the nastiest techniques from Muay Thai/ Ling Lom, utilised via an Unarmed Combat Mentality. (Muay Boran and Ling Lom used to be a unique martial art practiced in Thailand and in Laos. It’s believed that in the 1700s they started to be taught as separate martial arts. Ling Lom slowly became much lesser known. Some of the techniques performed by Tony Jaa in his popular Thai movies like “Ong-Bak” are taken from Ling Lom).
The main principle of Lerdrit is to get the opponent off balance fast to finish him with quick and powerful strikes, mostly knees and elbows as per close combat range.
Unlike most Thai martial arts, the training includes smashing bricks and concrete tiles. This kind of training is typical in the Royal Thai Army Academy but other places may not train in the same way.
Some says that it has a lot in common with the Military Chin Na taught to the Red Army in China and most technical drills in Lerdrit aim to be a “Kill” in under Four moves.
Few guidelines are followed when in action:
- Out balance the opponent
- Go for it! (take initiative with quick move)
- Not block and strike but use a sort of “cow-catcher” guard or use “Salaakhaang” (Telephone block) while diving forward making your elbow an unexpected fast weapon on the inside.
Position is also important. Most of the Lerdrit techniques are applied while outside the opponent guard. Ideally you want to get to his side or behind him to attack his unguarded part (eg. break his neck), which is of course more difficult to do if you move on the inside.
Any defense technique is considered secondary during the fight as the aim is to take the initiative and kill the attacker ASAP.
While take-downs are intended to do maximum damage, clinches are avoided for the sake of saving time and space for grappling and striking moves.
Ideally, combative systems tend to avoid going to the ground, unless you absolutely can’t help it. Especially if you are in a fight where also weapons are involved. You don’t really want to be rolling around on the ground with someone armed who is trying to kill you. Preparation for all eventualities is always to keep in mind.
Many experts consider Muay Lerdrit as the top of Thai Martial Arts. As I was looking for a training place where someone can learn this form of close combat self defense I wasn’t able to locate an official entity in Thailand (except of course the Royal Thai Army Academy).
One thing is 100% accurate: Genuine teachers are rare!
However, the International Muay Boran Academy (IMBA) is doing an interesting job to expand the knowledge of Muay Lerdrit and Muay Boran worldwide (see video here below) with continued close collaboration with Grand Master Chinawut Sirisompan (also known as Master Woody, President of the World Muay Boran Federation), Thai Army’s Colonel Nophakao Sribunruang and Italian Arjarn Marco De Cesaris.
Hopefully we’ll see some more training places here in Thailand about this fighting system. I think it will be very helpful as a self defense solution for most of the ladies out there by improving self confidence and get straight out of any dangerous problem they may encounter.
I have to greatly thank Ms.Chika Na Ratthkij who contacted me few months ago as she was looking for a Lerdrit school or instructor to continue her training that her father taught her since she was a child.
Thanks to her family lineage related to the Thai Special Combat Group she was able to kindly send me most of the content of this post and I really hope she can continue her training with proper guidance on this amazing self defense system.
Please feel free to leave a comment here below. If you know more info about Lerdrit training places you are more than welcome to share it with us.
Photo Credits: CAMP FRIENDSHIP, KORAT, Thailand (May 12, 2008) – Soldiers with 2nd Battalion, 156th Infantry Regiment, Louisiana National Guard, learn how to delivers a rib-cracking knee strike to by their Royal Thai Army counterparts, while practicing Muay Thai during Cobra Gold 2008 here. Muay Thai is a form of Thai boxing, but the Thai military uses a modified form of Muay Thai called Lerdrit. Cobra Gold is a regularly scheduled combined, joint multinational exercise and is the latest in the continuing series of U.S. and Thai military exercises designed to ensure regional peace and stability. This exercise also strengthens the royal Thai’s self defense abilities and their response to regional contingencies. (Official U.S. Army Photo by Maj. Robert Isabella, 8th Theater Sustainment Command). Original source: CAMP FRIENDSHIP by Flickr Stream Soldiersmediacenter under Licence CC2.0 English: U.S. Army Sgt. Jerry D. White (left), Royal Thai Master Sgt. Satit Sitparsert (center) and U.S. Army Spc. James M. Lupo hold their fighting stance during hand-to-hand combat training as part of Exercise Cobra Gold ’97 in Tak, Thailand, on May 15, 1997. Cobra Gold ’97 is the latest in a continuing series of U.S. /Thai military exercises designed to ensure regional peace and strengthen the ability of the Royal Thai Armed Forces to defend Thailand. The training will include joint combined air, land and sea operations. Cobra Gold is the largest strategic mobility exercise involving the U.S. Pacific Command forces this year. White and Lupo are attached to Alpha Company, 1st Battalion, 27th Infantry. Sitparsert is attached to the Thai 3rd Regiment, 17th Infantry. By English: Spc. Christopher R. Salazar, U.S. Army [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons Video: Muay Boran IMBA Europa Youtube Channel