On Saturday February 24, Muay Thai fighters from across Canada will square off in the LeBreton Gallery of the Canadian War Museum for the Art of War II.
Fourteen (yes, you read that right: fourteen) fights are scheduled, including the Main Event between Vince Veys-German of N-1 Thai in Ottawa and Tim Lo of Arashi Do in Edmonton, who will battle for the Muay Thai Canada 86kg Title.
The rest of the card reads like a who’s who list of Canadian amateur Muay Thai talent and has all the signs of being Ottawa’s best Muay Thai event of the year. Since he started CapCity Fight Promotions, Sacha Hijazi has made putting on the best fights in the best venues his top priority. A crucial part of his events has been attracting the best current and upcoming fighters to feature on his cards. One of those athletes is Vaughn Young, who fights out of Sacha’s gym, Ottawa Fight & Fitness, and will be taking on a game fighter out of Sudbury.
For Vaughn, his Muay Thai journey started in during a backpacking trip through Southeast Asia. “I went to a couple fights [in Thailand] and I remember thinking that [Muay Thai] was the ultimate form of stand up fighting. The use of elbows, knees, and clinching really mesmerized me,” Vaughn said.
Since then, he’s been perfecting his Muay Thai by spending two to three hours at Ottawa Fight & Fitness, four or five times per week, all while juggling two jobs. However, Vaughn says that the reward of getting better and overcoming mental and physical challenges makes the hard work worth it. “It’s sort of like leveling up. I’m in love with the process of progress. It’s rewarding to set goals and smash them (no pun intended).”
Outside of watching elite athletes like Vaughn compete, Muay Thai events also put Thai culture on full display. Fighters perform their own unique Wai Khru Ram Muay, a hundreds of years old Thai dance, before the fight. Thai flutes fill the background during each round, making the venue sound a little bit like Bangkok, and whenever a kick lands flush against a fighter’s body, the crowd shouts out a characteristic “o-wee!”
One of the coolest parts of watching Muay Thai live is how close you are to the fights. When a fighter makes their walk towards the ring, you’ll feel for a second like you’re doing the same thing. You’ll get excited, nervous, laser focused, and prepare to test your mettle against someone who’s also been training for months to fight you… but then you’ll come back to Earth, take a sip of beer, and prepare to yell “o-wee!”
So, if you haven’t been to a Muay Thai event before, this is the perfect place to start. I had the pleasure of attending last year’s Art of War and dragged along some friends, none of whom had ever expressed an interest in watching a combat sport live. I reassured them, though, that there’s something truly captivating about live Muay Thai. Suffice it to say, they enjoyed last year’s event so much that they’ve already bought their tickets for the Art of War II.
And hey, if you don’t want to take my word for it, maybe you’ll take Sacha’s!
The Art of War II will take place on Saturday February 24 at 7pm in the LeBreton Gallery of the Canadian War Museum. Tickets start at $35 and can be purchased online or at participating Muay Thai gyms across Ottawa.