Muay Thai is a traditional Martial Arts also known as Thaiboxing in the Western world. The least people know about the historical and spiritual meaning of the Thai national sport.
Muay Thais popularity was especially boosted during the reign of Ayuttayas king Prachao Sua (1703 – 1709). Due to his passion for Martial Arts he had a big influence to the techniques of Thai Boxing even nowaydays. Also he was the one introducing the first types of equipment into the boxing sport. The first bandages consisted of horsehair before they were first replaced by hemp and finally by cotton. Since kicks down the genital area were still allowed at that time they would use shells or tree bark as protection cups. The Thais call Prachao Sua „the Tiger King“ who is still admired for the numerous street battles he won during his reign.
About sixty years later war started when Siam (todays Thailand) was occupied by the Birmese and the old kingdom Ayutthaya was fully destroyed. Until today the legend of the siamese figther Nai Khanomtom is rooted in the Thai peoples hearts. During his captivity in the year 1767 the birmese king Mangra prompted him to present the siamese Martial Arts in its original form known as Muay Boran. Without any kind of judge, rounds or even equipment Khanomtom competed a birmese figther and won the battle.
Nine fights followed in which Nai Khanomtom beated every single component. The birmese king was pretty impressed and gave freedome back to the unbeatable warrior so he could return to his people who were still suffering from the loss of Ayutthaya. Every year on March 17 Thai people honor the figther with a national holiday.
The next golden age of Muay Thai can be placed between 1868 and 1910. Back then government which was lead by king Rama V plead for more training camps and professional fights. Until 1920 Muay Thai even has been a fixed part of the national school system but because of the high number of injuries it was then reduced to specialized gyms.
Since traditional Muay Thai gained a lot of international popularity at that time it got inspired by other forms of Martial Arts. That is when also boxing gloves known from the Western boxing sports came into picture. The introduction of weight classes, fighthing in a ring and in rounds made the traditional Muay Thai what it is today: Worldwide known as Thai Boxing.
In the mid-fourties not only the general terms and rules but also the meaning of Muay Thai as a national sport increased. Many years passed in which different organizations argued about the sports rights and rules. In 1995 finally the World Muay Thai Council (WMTC) was found in which all Muay Thai organizations are now collected.
Muay Thai is often described as Art of 8 Limbs since the technqiues are used with two hands, ellbows, knees and shins.
Strikes like Jebs and Hooks known from conventional boxing styles are also part of Muay Thai. Besides from that ellbow techniques are allowed.
Other than in Kickboxing kicks in Muay Thai aim at all parts of the body. Besides High Kicks which should hit the opponents head, Low Kicks aim at the height of ribs or the outer area of the thigh. Low Kicks hitting the inner thigh are used to get the opponent out of his stand and his balance.
In the so-called Clinch (Chap Kho) the figther entangles the competitors head in order to pull him down and use different styles of Knee Kicks.
In order to ward any kind of kick special blocking techniques are used. Lifting of the bend knee especially protects the area of lateral ribs.
Blocking and kicking require a wide range of movement in the hip joints. Proper stretching therefore is an important part of a Muay Thai class.
Some basic stretching exercises which are suitable for Muay Thai training you can find here >>> Yoga for martial arts.
Also Thaiboxing is known for its hard warm ups. Besides rope skipping, jogging and shadow boxing exercises promoting strength, coordination and conditioning of the body belong to a normal Muay Thai session. After that techniques are practised either with a partner, on boxing pads or sac. In sparring a realistic fight situation is simulated. Other than in professional fights participants are wearing shin protection to avoid serious injuries.
A conventional Muay Thai fight counts three to five rounds depending on the fighters level of which each lasts two to three minutes.
The judge is in charge of commands and control of the rules. If one of the participants is not able to continue the fight he counts until ten before the final knockout is declared. Furthermore the referee has the right to stop the fight if he sees the opponents profiency level as significantly inbalanced.
A jury of three people decides over the awarded points in a Muay Thai fight. A balanced proportion of strikes and blocks is rewarded with ten points. If there is only a small difference between the figthers performance nine points are given. If the presentation is worse the jury will allocate only eight points. The use of forbidden techniques is punished with a discount of points. After the third admonishment a fighter can be even disqualified.
In order to show respect to the teacher fighters are presenting a ritual dance (Wai Khru Ram Muay) before starting the actual battle.
The traditional head accessoire the fighter is wearing thoughout this rite is called Mongkon and has a spiritual function. The teacher only gives this accessoire which has been blessed in a buddhist ceremony before if he thinks the student is ready to fight. During the ceremony and throughout the whole fight traditional Thai music is played.
All pictures were taken at one of Thailands most popular Muay Thai & MMA Training Camps Tiger.
More info here: www.tigermuaythai.com