Muay Thai might sound like a tasty Asian dish yet it is actually a form of boxing. As most would guess, Muay Thai originates from Thailand. Some consider Muay Thai to be the most distinguished form of combat, partially because it involves the systematic use of the hardest points along the body.
Muay Thai’s Origins
Also known as Thai Boxing, May Thai is Thailand’s national sport. Its origins stem way back hundreds of years when this form of fighting was used in close combat. Muay Thai fighters use their entire body as a weapon. Though Muay Thai’s origins are not fully documented by historians as much of its history was erased when Burmese invaders ransacked Thai depositories and temples, a handful of volumes remain to provide insight into the fighting style’s roots.
The Muay Thai fighting style emerged during a period in which regional soldiers could not afford weapons. All combat took place in close proximity, partially because Thailand’s topography featured an abundance of mountains, jungles and cities. This terrain made it nearly impossible to use projectiles. As a result, Thai soldiers learned how to use the entirety of their body as a weapon. Muay Thai has evolved from a means of killing an enemy to a popular sport with global appeal. Some of today’s top MMA fighters credit their Muay Thai fighting techniques for success.
How Muay Thai is Distinguished From Other Fighting Styles
Some refer to Muay Thai as the “Art of Eight Limbs” as the eight points of contact on the body symbolize the weapons of warfare. The hands are considered swords and daggers. The knees and legs serve as axes and staffs. The forearms and shins are hardened through intensive training to function as a shield against punches and kicks. The elbow serves as a hammer. Muay Thai fighters continuously seek openings amidst grappling to use their elbows and knees to spin the enemy to the ground for the finishing move. When performed properly, the Muay Thai fighting style makes the full body greater than the sum of its parts; the body functions as a singular weapon.
The Progression of Muay Thai Fighting
Thai history books are rife with stories of heroic Muay Thai fighters. Muay Thai fighting events were held throughout the 18th and 19th centuries. The winners of Muay Thai competitions earned considerable fame and money. Thailand’s King Rama VII constructed a Muay Thai westernized boxing ring in Suan Kularb, Bangkok in the 1920s. This westernization of the combat style spurred some significant changes. Referees, time limits, rounds, gloves and other alterations were introduced.
As time progressed, the original Muay Thai techniques referred to as Boran techniques gradually faded away. In fact, some such techniques were banned. This progression is important as it paved the way for Muay Thai’s acceptance in the mainstream. In fact, Muay Thai served as a means for people to uplift themselves and their loved ones to a higher socioeconomic class. Some such fighters earned global fame as Muay Thai’s popularity gradually transcended borders.
As time progressed, Muay Thai fighting transitioned to what is now known as the “golden age.” This era started in the 1980s and stretched all the way to the late 1990s. Some of today’s elite Muay Thai fighters earned their stripes under the tutelage of golden era fighters. Thailand still has some traditional Muay Thai training centers in villages across the country. Schedule a trip the the Land of Smiles, visit a traditional Muay Thai training center and you can learn how to fight like a legitimate Muay Thai warrior.