Last Updated on 02/20/2018 by Mark Beckenbach
All images by Jean Yves Lemoigne. Used with Creative Commons permission.
When we speak of intense combat sports, grace is often the last thing that comes to mind. However, French photographer Jean Yves Lemoigne has found that some sports can unexpectedly resemble something different, like dance. He picked a rather interesting sport to demonstrate this idea: Muay Thai.
As with the other forms of boxing, Thailand’s iconic boxing sport conjures images of ruthless bouts, power moves, and ferocious fighters. Graceful or dance-like are not exactly words we connect with every kick or punch. And yet, Jean Yves has found inspiration in this sport, first in the Wai Khru Ram Muay pre-fight ritual dance, and then in the powerful form of the Muay Thai boxers themselves.
For his portrait set simply titled Muay Thai Boxers, Jean Yves wanted to capture new and unexpected poses and angles, as he always does when shooting sports. “I try to forget that it is sport and try to see it just like a body in motion in space,” he explains. With this in mind, he shows viewers the different movements that exude both strength and a unique kind of grace. There’s a sense of calmness from the Wai Khru dance, as fighters show their respect in a graceful prelude to the fight. Then, we’re shown the grace of their form, chiseled by years of training, discipline, and dedication.
In each photo, we see the different elements that make Muay Thai a revered sport. It’s also interesting how setting the fighters against different colors worked to emphasize that each movement seems like a dance step native to this sport. The whole set was not meant to paint the boxers as mere brawlers. It depicts the whole culture they embraced since the day they picked up the sport, from the physical to the spiritual.