Wadhah Abdallah Ahmed al Harthi, the first Omani youth to attain the title of a ‘Guru’ in Muay Thai boxing – a martial art and combat sport – is all set to pass on what he learnt to those interested in Oman
The journey had been long, the quest for attaining perfection relentless, and the determination to succeed against all odds was the only fuel that enabled Wadhah Abdallah Ahmed al Harthi follow his dream – Muay Thai – with unflinching zeal. From ‘guy next door’ to ‘Guru’ it was an achievement ten years in the making but the satisfaction from doing so is now limitless for him.
Being the first Omani to attain the title of ‘Guru’ in Muay Thai, Wadhah believes that martial arts like this have universal acceptance and varied application for people of all ages and genders in the current age. It’s not intended so much for engagement in a critical situation as it is for instilling discipline in life and gearing up the individual to sharpen his/her intellect and instincts for suitable use in any situation. An exponent of Muay Thai will use all the skills at his disposition to avoid a combat, but when it is inevitable, he is ready to deliver a fitting lesson to his/her opponent, he asserts.
A full time event planner at the Oman Convention and Exhibition Centre and a part-time advisor for Oman Investments Authority, Wadhah currently runs his own gym – Muscat Mixed Martial Arts Gym – where he is a founding partner and coach in Muay Thai and Kickboxing. He is also a ‘Kru’ (teacher/guru) at Kru Muay Thai Association and member of the World May Thai Boran Association – the first Omani to receive this honourable title.
Awestruck by martial art movies
“It’s only curiosity which motivated me to learn Muay Thai. I was very interested in watching martial arts related movies of Jackie Chan and Bruce Lee and, somehow, it created an interest in me to pursue training in this regard,” said Wadhah, disclosing that he had to travel far and wide to learn various martial arts after doing substantial research on the internet about the best fighters and the best places to learn various martial arts.
In 2012, he had his first brush with Muay Thai when he visited Thailand for a month to learn the basics of this form of kickboxing. That sparked his passion for martial arts furthermore and he soon proceeded to Nepal where he stayed in a monastery in the mountains and learnt Kung Fu Nan from the monks.
He also proceeded to Sri Lanka to learn ‘Angampora’ – a local martial art that combines combat techniques, self-defence, sport, exercise, and meditation – from an 88-year old exponent, a legend in his own right. He also went to the Netherlands to learn Dutch Kickboxing from the popular Jimmy’s Gym, besides Dubai and Bahrain to learn mixed martial arts.
Wadhah said he wanted to learn different martial arts from the places where they have originated or become popular and so felt the urge to travel around to pursue his goals.
“I wanted to go deep to the roots and to live and learn from the people where different martial arts originated. I believe, martial arts is not just one discipline, rather a combination of different techniques which you learn before you create your very own style,” said Wadhah, admitting that his desire to learn martial arts did not stem from any incident of bullying or harassment, as many other exponents confess.
“I wanted to learn martial arts only because I was awestruck by some movies when I was young. But later on, I discovered that it gives you discipline, confidence and helps you refine your lifestyle. I took this up without any specific goal but I now want to teach it to my students to help them benefit from it,” he asserted, adding that he is confident of being able to share his skills even with those employed in the police or defence services, if his services are sought.
Those who learn martial arts can use it to improve their own life skills and it is beneficial even for those with special needs, Wadhah said, adding that his students comprise people who fall in two categories – those who want to participate in combat sports and those who are just passionate about learning it.
The best war is ‘no war’
He also disclosed that he has trained students who needed it to defend themselves against unknown opponents as well as in case of domestic violence within the home. Quoting a proverb by Bruce Lee, who said, ‘I prefer being a warrior in a garden than being a gardener in a war’, he asserted, “The purpose of learning martial arts is not for being ready to handle any incident or for fighting. The author of ‘The Art of War’ – Sun Tzu – said ‘the best war is no war’. In the same way, a martial artist will never fight, he will use his skills to control a situation to avoid a fight. Those who initiate a fight are those who have never learnt martial art,” he said, adding that women who learn martial arts do so not to be able to fight with anyone, rather to be able to control a situation skillfully. “The foundation of martial arts is communicating well in a critical situation, not fighting.”
Wadhah also admitted that martial arts helped him develop discipline, confidence, emotional intelligence, to be able to focus on tasks, to work under pressure, to solve problems, communicate effectively as well as multi-task without crumbling under a workload. Hence, there are many benefits of learning martial arts which help one deal with life and its challenges in a better manner.