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Lethwei - A Myanmar Journey

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The Sport of Lethwei:

Lethwei is an ancient Burmese form of bare-knuckle/bound-fist fighting that has risen and fallen in popularity due to the country’s troubling and ever-changing political landscape. The lifeblood of the sport, though, has always been the rural communities where fighters compete for the love of the sport and the distinction of being a well-known fighter.

Lethwei is important because it’s intrinsically woven into the fabric of Burmese life. It was once an important rite of passage for young men entering into adulthood. Their legs were tattooed with powerful symbols they proudly displayed to the crowd. It proved they were strong enough to endure the pain of an ancient and grueling tattooing process. In ancient times, combatants fought to court a future bride, become a fighter of great renown, or to earn money to support their families. A father taught his son to compete at an early age, just as his father and grandfather had done before him. The child fought to prove his strength and courage—attributes that carried over into his daily life.

In the last decade, Lethwei became a valuable export commodity for Myanmar businessmen and promoters, which helped the sport to reach a new worldwide audience until the dual tragedies of Covid 19 and a brutal military coup once again darkened its global prospects, limited its visibility, and stopped its progress.

The Project:

The award-winning Born Warriors 4-disc video set was initially presented through a series of talks, seminars, and film festivals prior to its 2016 release. This insightful, in-depth documentary series and companion website sought to introduce the world to this almost forgotten sport and bring new awareness to its struggle and survival.

Lethwei: Sport of Warriors, the new follow-up book project, delves into the fascinating evolution of Lethwei, from its earliest days to its modern struggles. The sport’s rich history and distinctive character are revealed through an extensive array of personal interviews, training sessions, handwritten manuals, newspaper articles, personal documents, and a unique archive of historical photographs I collected over several decades training and traveling throughout Southeast Asia and India.

The original idea was to create the final project as another documentary entitled Born Warriors Revisited as a follow-up to the original documentary series. However, just after Covid struck and shut down a good portion of the world, I realized the long intensive filming needed to complete the project could not be done in the foreseeable future. The focus then shifted toward a new detailed written work that would put all the completed research into a book that would reveal Lethwei’s history and culture that, until now, has not been fully documented or understood. The main thrust of the Vanishing Flame project was always to train in and record, in exacting increments, the ancient and modern teaching and training curriculums to demonstrate how these systems were used to prepare someone to enter the fighting arena. This extensive and detailed approach to history and technical training are expertly woven together to give the reader a thorough immersion into the sport of Lethwei.

While the book is near completion, there are several more interviews to do, photos to be shot, documents to be translated, and the possibility of a companion video to be filmed in Myanmar that would add enormous value to the final release.


The funds will be used to:

1. Travel to and from Myanmar (if possible, if not I will use material done remotely by my team of assistants on the ground).

2. Focus on finishing the necessary remaining interviews and training material.

3. Handle the massive amount of transcriptions and translations of the interviews and written work I have acquired.

4. Complete the process of compiling the final work for release.

If we do not get the full funding (or if traveling back becomes problematic due to safety concerns), the money will go toward completing as many interviews as we can remotely, finishing the final translations, and pushing the release date up as much as possible.

Any extra donations beyond our goal will go towards adding more supplemental material(website, video, pdf downloads) to the project release.


Vincent Giordano is an award-winning New York City-based director/cameraman. He has been responsible for creating iconic music videos and documentaries for such popular bands as Metallica, The Beastie Boys, Run DMC, Slayer, Danzig, Slick Rick, Doro Pesch, The Black Crowes, and many others. Vincent created his first film production company while still in college then went on to establish the landmark Def Pictures/ Def Jam Visuals for Def Jam creators Rick Rubin and Russell Simmons. He has lived throughout Southeast Asia and India, training and documenting the rapidly fading indigenous martial and healing systems. Vincent began teaching boxing in 1990, established NYCA in 1991 to teach his varied martial arts programs then founded the Infinity School in 2010. In 2000, he created the Vanishing Flame, a popular and often controversial underground newsletter, that spawned several well-received documentaries shot throughout the world. Vincent has contributed articles to such well-known publications as Black Belt, Inside Kung Fu, and Karate International. This is his first book.

Learn More:

Keep up to date on the latest info regarding the progress of Lethwei: Sport of Warriors:

Share The Project:

Donations are not the only way to help. Please share this link with friends and family on Facebook and Instagram.

Thank you for all your support.


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    • $100 
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  • Alessio Franco
    • $95 
    • 5 mos
  • Mari DeWees
    • $100 
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  • Aaron Foster
    • $50 
    • 9 mos


Vincent Giordano
New York, NY

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