Lethwei - Traditional Myanmar kickboxing

For the fifth time, he has been knocked down. He lies in the ring, his face covered in cuts, his eyes swollen, blood gushing out of his mouth. The referee calls for a break. Not the end of the match, just a break. Three minutes. Three minutes to come back to life and keep fighting.

While traditional kickboxing in Myanmar is starting to incorporate international rules, often, fighters still fight the way they have for centuries – without protections, without gloves, without stopping until one fighter really cannot get up anymore.
The violence is extreme, raw, and real.
There is a peculiar discrepancy between the medical checks before the fight, as well as the family-friendly atmosphere, the ice-cream vendors, the happy chatter all around the ring, and the brutal violence going on inside it.
But when a fight picks up speed, the audience is mesmerized - everyone, old and young, is fascinated.

It touches on our basic human nature. The universal human fascination with violence comes to the surface here, and becomes palpable, visible in the eyes of the audience.