Thais Fight Dirty

Published: 2nd October 2007Author: Know Phuket

There is a common complaint from westerners when discussing the subject of street fighting against Thais. The Thais do not fight fair. They will not fight a good clean man-to-man fight. No, they fight dirty. They bring weapons to the show. They attack in gangs. They have no honour.

Street fights are not common in Thailand. Certainly not in comparison with my home nation where pub closing time is the starting bell for a few rounds of fisticuffs up and down the high streets of the UK. Still wherever there are lots of drunken men milling the streets late at night there is the possibility of violence erupting. Patong certainly falls into this category and late at night, drunken revelers occasionally overstep the mark and fists start flying.

Often these fights are between foreigners and no great harm is done. It is when foreigners get into fights with Thais that things can get out of hand. Thais fight serious - very serious.

Getting into a fight with a Thai is a bad thing. This is not a good situation for a westerner to get into. Things can get out of hand very quickly. Most ex-pats know the score. They know it is a bad idea to fight against Thais and they know how to avoid provoking violence. However, for visiting tourists it is easy to be misled into a feeling of security. The friendly Thai smile can give the impression that this is always a welcoming country. A small, light-framed Thai man is not intimidating. With a few beers inside, it is easy for foreign tourists to show much more bravado than the situation really warrants.

The problem is when the fighting starts you are very unlikely to be fighting against a small, light-framed Thai man. No, you will be fighting against 10 of them because when the fighting starts all the friends and locals join in. While Thais may appear a little lightweight, do not forget this is the land of Muay Thai.

Do not think that when you put your hands up and say you have had enough the beating will stop. The beating will continue until the Thais are well and truly satisfied they have got their message across. You may well be badly hurt.

You are in their territory and the odds of a westerner getting a good outcome from a fight with a Thai are not good. Even if you win the fight, you are not in a good position. Do not expect the Thai to just lick his wounds and forget about it. Revenge will be on his mind. If you beat a Thai in a fight, it is time to think about getting out of town.

If I haven't made it plain enough yet, let me state it simply. Do not come to Thailand and get into a fight with a Thai. The Thais are truly a friendly and welcoming people. It usually takes a bit of effort to provoke them into violence. Make the effort to be friendly instead.


So what about this complaint that they don't fight clean and have no honour. They are too cowardly to fight one-on-one. This really is a very odd protest. Try explaining it to a Thai and you will get a strange look. The thing is the idea of a fair fight is a very western concept. Fighting has nothing to do with fairness or honour. It is by its nature a nasty, dirty exercise.

If a Thai wants to engage in a fair fight, he steps into a Muay Thai ring. If a Thai is involved in a street fight, he wants to win. Concepts such as fighting fair, showing courage and losing honourably are irrelevant. It is about winning, not getting hurt, hurting your opponent and getting the upper hand.

The westerners who complain that Thais do not fight fair seem to believe it would be pefectly alright for a big western man to knock around a little Thai guy. That would be fair because it is a clean one-on-one fight and it has the extra benefit that the western man wins. As soon as the western man finds himself being battered by the Thai guy's entire entourage, then it is not fair.

The answer is simple. It is not meant to be fair. The Thais do not fight to be fair. The best advice applies to everywhere - do not get into fights.


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