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Bangkok Travelbug October 15 Buddhaisawan Sword Conservation Centre
September 29, 2015

Buddhaisawan Sword Conservation Centre, Kanchanaburi

Welcome back! We actually stumbled upon this place one Sunday morning while we were searching for the ruins of the Ancient Town of Kanchanaburi. It was within the grounds of a home and it turned out to be a traditional Thai weapons centre!

What a pleasant surprise! We got to learn about something interesting which we didn’t plan to do initially. Let’s find out more.

Contents (click on the link to go directly to the topic)

History of the centre

The Buddhaisawan Sword Conservation Centre was founded by Khun Samai Masamarn, father of the current director Khun Thanongsak Masamarn, to promote the knowledge and use of the sword and other traditional Thai weapons.

Khun Samai Masamarn

It was originally called Buddhaisawan Sword Centre Ayutthaya. Later the name Ayutthaya was replaced by Kanchanaburi. When Khun Samai passed away, his son Khun Thanongsak carried on the tradition started by the father.

Although the name in English is Buddhaisawan Sword Conservation Centre, the centre teaches all forms of traditional Thai weapons as the name in Thai suggests.

It’s important to understand the philosophy behind this traditional weapons centre; it’s more than just a school that teaches the use of the various types of traditional weapons. Like all martial arts, there is a certain physical and mental discipline.

More than that, it teaches the culture, history and traditions of these weapons, the men and women and events involved with these weapons. That’s why it’s called a conservation centre; it preserves a national heritage.

These were the weapons used in the previous centuries when the old Siamese kingdom was engaged in continuous struggles with her neighbours. These weapons embody the efforts and sacrifices of earlier generations that ensured the survival of the kingdom.

Home of the Buddhaisawan Sword Conservation Centre

The centre is located in an area of historical significance; the Khwae Yai valley in Kanchanaburi where many big battles were fought with the Burmese. In 1785 when the Burmese launched a massive invasion of Siam, the Nine Army Battle, the critical battle for that campaign was fought just 24 km north of this weapons centre.

The shed where the training is conducted

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Objectives and curriculum

The Buddhaisawan Sword Conservation Centre has the following objectives:
  1. To preserve Thai culture and traditions relating to traditional Thai weapons

  2. To provide the opportunity for the youth to practise and acquire the skills in using traditional Thai weapons

  3. To provide the youth and other people in general a healthy outlet to spent their time beneficially

  4. To promote an awareness to present and future generations of the efforts and sacrifices of the previous generations

  5. To help the youth of today engage in healthy activities and stay away from vices

Some of the weapons used

With these noble activities in mind, the centre conducts the following courses:
Traditional Thai weapons for beginners
Beginners level 1
Beginners level 2

Unarmed combat in daily life
(7 days/14 hours)

Traditional Thai dances and drama including
Khon masked dance
Traditional Thai dances
Local folk dances

Here are some shots of the training being conducted for a class of teenagers.

An addition to the class

The weapon training covers a variety of traditional weapons like sword, spear, halberd and trident.

Certificates are present on successful completion of each course. The courses are open to Thais and foreigners, if you are interested contact details are listed below.

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Khun Thanongsak’s entire family is involved in this traditional Thai weapons centre. His wife Khun Watchanee teaches traditional Thai dances, his son covers traditional Thai weapons and his daughter unarmed combat.
  • Khun Thanongsak Masamarn – Director and Chief Instructor

  • Khun Watchanee Masamarn – Traditional Thai dance instructor

  • Khun Jira Masamarn – Traditional weapons instructor

  • Khun Jarinya Masamarn – Unarmed combat instructor

Preserving a national heritage

Thai movie fans will remember epics like Suriyothai* and the Legend of King Naresuan the Great**. I’ve seen two parts of the latter epic which were memorable.

The large scale period battle scenes were brought to life before your eyes. Meticulous care was taken in the details of the costumes, weapons and pyrotechnics down to the presence of European mercenaries, notably the Portuguese.

Well, Khun Thanongsak and his team of instructors were the technical advisors to the actors and actresses using traditional Thai weapons in the battle scenes. Judging from the fast and furious fighting scenes, what a great job they did!

Historical note

*Queen Suriyothai was the royal consort of King Chakkraphat the reigning monarch of Ayutthaya from 1548 – 1569. She is renowned for her martial prowess and frequently accompanies her king battle.

In one battle, the king’s elephant stumbled and the Burmese king was closing in for the kill. Queen Suriyothai intervened and took the blow that was meant for her king.

**King Naresuan the Great was king of Ayutthaya from 1590 – 1605. When the Burmese sacked Ayutthaya in 1569, they looted the city, took thousands of prisoners and destroyed the fortifications. A puppet ruler was installed and Ayutthaya became a vassal of Burma.

When King Naresuan became king he defied the Burmese, defeated them in the battle at Nong Sarai in Suphanburi in 1593 and reasserted the independence of Ayutthaya.

Two hundred years later, the Burmese sacked Ayutthaya again. This time the destruction was complete. But that’s another story.

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My thanks

We’d like to thank Khun Thanongsak for his hospitality and for the information the centre provided for this article. All photographs are with the courtesy of the Buddhaisawan Sword Conservation Centre, Kanchanaburi.

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Map to the Buddhaisawan Sword Conservation Centre, Kanchanaburi

Click on this link for a bigger map

How to get to the Buddhaisawan Sword Conservation Centre, Kanchanaburi

From Bangkok get on to Boromarajajonani Road or Phet Kasem Road depending on which is more convenient for you. You will eventually get on to highway 4, Phet Kasem Road and hit Ban Pong, Ratchaburi.

Continue on to highway 323 till you get to Kanchanaburi city. Drive through the city along Saeng Chuto Road. At the major junction after you’ve left the city, go straight onto highway 3199. Continue on highway 3199 till you pass another junction where Lat Ya is located.

The Buddhaisawan Sword Conservation Centre is located within the area of the Ancient Town of Kanchanaburi about 3 km north of Lat Ya town. When you arrive at Wat Pa Lelai turn left. Proceed on and turn right at the ruins of Wat Khun Paen.

After you have passed the ruins of Wat Khun Paen, the road will make a sharp 90 degree turn to the right. Keep going straight till you arrive at the centre.

Contact Information


Buddhaisawan Sword Conservation Centre, Kanchanaburi
185/15 Mu 2
Tambon (sub-district) Lat Ya
Amphur Mueang Kanchanaburi (city district) 71190

Tel: 034 589 997, 087 515 6795,
089 768 6400, 084 008 5952,
081 420 6224



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Next month

Mahasawat Canal boat ride, Nakhon Pathom

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Eric Lim
Tour Bangkok Legacies
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