On January 19th 2019, My Kru (Muay Thai Teacher) and I had the chance to attend Dave “The Nomad” Leduc’s Lethwei Seminar at Patenaude’s Martial Art Center in Gatineau, Quebec, Canada. Dave Leduc also known as “The King of Lethwei” is a multiple time world champion of this sport. Mostly unknown in America and Europe, championships of this discipline are actually watched by more people in Myanmar (Burma) than the Oscars in the United States. So while most of you never heard of Dave, he is considered like a god by the people of Burma. Lethwei is Burmese bareknuckle boxing and was develop even before Muay Thai. Even though both sports share many similarities as both come from Southeast Asia, there are main key differences you should know.
1- Lethwei is fought bare knuckles. This increases the chance of breaking your hands and the number of cuts from strikes
2- Muay thai is known as the art of eight limbs. Fists, Elbows, Knees and feet. Lethwei on the other hand is know as the art of nine limbs. So all of the above plus your head. If done properly, headbutts are an extremely effective technique. You can also use your head to put pressure on your opponent head and throat to add even more damage wile fighting in the clinch.
3- No point system. Just like Muay Thai most fights last 5 rounds of 3 minutes. But in Letwei, there is no points given for the number of strikes. It’s a fight to finish. If both opponents are still standing at the end of the fight, it is considered a draw.
We had the chance of spending an afternoon with world champion Dave Leduc to learn some of the techniques he uses when he fights. Even if most techniques can’t be used in a Muay Thai Combat, some of them can and all of them could end up useful in a street fight. It was one of the best seminars I’ve attended.
Here is the last fight of Dave against former champion Tun Tun Min that was fought on December 16th 2018
Here is a link of the seminar covered by Radio Canada National Television in french.