May 8, 2007

Muay Thai Legend - Phraya Pichai

Phraya Pichai Daab Hak (Phraya Pichai of the broken sword) who was also known as Thongdee Fan Kao was from Thongyung Province which is known today as Uttarradit. When Phraya Pichai was a young boy he loved to practice Muay Thai and would always be running away without his parents knowing, to train in the art. He trained with many teachers of that time.

One day Phraya Tak (General Taksin) was holding a Muay Thai contest in the town of Tak during a town festival. Now a young man of twenty years, Nai Thongdee Fan Kao asked the ring master to find him a match. The towns people having never seen the boxer before suggested that he take an opponent who had little experience so that it would make an exciting fight, but Nai Thongdee insisted that he would fight the most skillful boxer in the town.

A famous boxing master of Tak, Arjarn Nai Hao, who nobody dared to challenge, gladly agreed to take the fight, knowing that those who had challenged the master before had been soundly and thoroughly beaten, why should this young upstart be any different? A huge crowd gathered to see the young boxer Nai Thongdee fight the invincible Nai Hao.Throughout the bout Nai Thongdee showed brilliant Muay Thai style.

Seeing a resounding victory over Nai Hao after witnessing such a formidable display, Phraya Taksin showed no hesitation in asking Nai Thongdee to join his army. On many occasions, Nai Thongdee would display his talents in the Muay Thai ring before Phraya Tak (later to become King Taksin the great of Thonburi). His skill and bravery in the ring and the fact that no other boxer could defeat Nai Thongdee, were very pleasing to Phraya Tak who appointed him to be his personal bodyguard.

The Emperor of China Kao Tsung, was alarmed by the military might of the Burmese. From 1766- 1769, the Emperor sent his armies four times to subdue the Burmese, but all four invasions failed. Siam was under the control of the Burmese since the sacking of Ayutthaya, but had to withdraw the bulk of its army from Siam to ward of the Chinese invasions, leaving behind only a small contingent. General Taksin taking advantage of the situation, organized his force and revolted.

General Taksin; At first was a guerrilla leader with only five hundred followers but within fifteen years his dominion was to embrace all of Siam. During the revolt Taksin managed to escape to Rayong on the East coast of Siam. Here with the help of Phraya Pichai, now his Commander-in-Chief, raised an army and declared all out war on Burma. The action was to eventually regain freedom for the Siamese people.

Phraya Pichai or (Nai Thongdee), under the guidance of General Taksin and using guerrilla tactics, won back many small towns and villages from the Burmese. It was during one of the many battles, that Nai Thongdee was to become famous. In 1773 an army under celebrated Burmese General Bo Supia was sent to capture the City of Pichai. Nai Thongdee led the Thai army and fought him at Wat Aka and Phraya Sura Sri helped him battle the Burmese. The Burmese general was driven into retreat while sustaining great losses to his troops.

In the heat of the battle which Nai Thongdee fought with Sang maa daab (two handed swords) and after many fierce engagements he slipped and used one of his swords to control himself by pointing it into the ground, as he leaned on the sword it broke in half. Nai Thongdee used his Muay Thai techniques. One daab and one broken one, he led his army to victory forcing the Burmese back across the border.

As a result of this battle he was known as ‘Phraya Pichai Daab Hak’ (Daab Hak) meaning broken sword. Eventually after fifteen years of war the Siamese under ‘King Tasking the Great ‘ had forced the Burmese army back and Siam regained all of its original frontiers.

When King Taksin died, the new King Rama I of the Chao Phraya Chakri Dynasty (the present day rulers), he declared his new capitol Bangkok. As a reward for his loyalty and service to his country King Rama asked Phraya Pichai if he would continue his good work as the kings bodyguard. (In these times the law of the land stated that once a King died, his bodyguards and loyal servants should die with him), but King Rama offered to take an acceptation for Phraya Pichai.

However, Phraya Pichai was so saddened by the death of his beloved King Taksin that he ordered the executioner to do away with him, despite King Rama's kindness, Such was the loyalty that Phraya Pichai had for King Taksin. Instead he asked King Rama to raise his son and in time that son could become King’s personal bodyguard in his fathers place.

Phraya Pichai was executed on his own order when he was 41 years old. A monument built to the memory of Phraya Pichai in 1969. The bronze image of the great warrior stand proudly in front of the Parliament Building in Uttarradit and serves to remind each generation of the amazing man’s courage and loyalty to his King and the Thai nation. The epitaph reads "In memory and loving honor for the pride of our nation".


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