Having lived in Thailand as long as I have, I still get angry when I see foreigners making statements about something in Thailand when, much of the time, they understand little about the culture they’re talking about. Case in point, the latest foreigner who’s come out against Thai kids learning Muay Thai — except this guy works for UNICEF, an agency that does very little for the kids of the world compared to how much money they spend. (They like to throw around accusatory statements about ‘child abuse’ though, does UNICEF – guess they want to look like they’re worth the over $3 billion budget they spend every year, and with little success against real child abuse, I might add).
According to Tomoo Hozumi (a UNICEF rep in this Bangkok Post video), letting Thai children learn Muay Thai is “child abuse” as it’s an “abuse of child rights”. Wonder if he’s saying that about the 8-year-old kids in Japan, where he likely comes from, learning Sumo wrestling?
Children being taught Muay Thai in Thailand is not child abuse. Muay Thai is a martial art that has been around for more than 700 years, and for centuries almost every Muay Thai fighter has started to learn the sport at a young age. To be the martial arts experts they grow up to be,Thai kids must begin young.
Just like the Russians have always started their kids specializing in sports at an early age, which is why they are almost unbeatable at many Olympic events, so have Thai kids always started to train for Muay Thai at a young age, and why most Thai Muay Thai fighters are unbeatable by fighters from other countries. It’s the years of training.
It’s odd too that Toomi Hozumi is wasting his time criticizing Muay Thai instead of going after the real child abuse — Thai parents who let their children get involved in a typical western ‘child lifestyle’ that of doing illegal drugs or hours a day of playing video games with no exercise or outdoor activity, which is a huge problem in Thailand with many kids who aren’t involved in a sport like Muay Thai.
And,speaking of real child abuse, that would be the millions of American parents who sit blindly by, while their kids stuff their already-fat faces with junk food, spend 10 hours a day playing computer games, and with the only exercise they get being the walk to the fridge to get another can of Coke.
Now that’s child abuse — a kid who, by the age of 12, is already set up for a life of heart disease, obesity and stroke.
Maybe UNICEF should be paying more attention to them, and less attention to Thai kids who are doing healthy exercise, participating in sporting events, learning a skill, learning a strong work ethic, developing a healthy self-esteem, and becoming expert in something that could give them a lucrative career when they grow up.
Meanwhile, watch the excellent Bangkok Post video below and appreciate the kids who are trying so hard to be good at Muay Thai and to make their parents proud.