Translating to “Thai Boxing”, Muay Thai is a big deal in Thailand.
Not only is it the country’s national sport, but with origins dating back to the Thai military of the 13th century, the prestige and honor that is associated with Muay Thai are hard to put into words.
In this article, we will take a deep dive into the unrelenting world of Muay Thai.
By highlighting its history, what it entails, its differences from regular kickboxing, and how it became to be one of the most celebrated martial art forms in existence.
That’s right, Muay Thai isn’t only practiced in Thailand. These days, it is practiced in all corners of the world.
But we’re guessing you probably knew that anyway?
What Is Muay Thai?
As you already know, Muay Thai is Thai boxing.
However, Muay Thai isn’t what you would consider “an ordinary form of boxing” it is very much its own thing.
The blueprint of Muay Thai comes from Muay Boran which is a traditional form of Thai martial arts.
Muay Thai was modernized in the early part of the 20th century as a modern combat sport.
Around this time, there was major influence coming from British boxing in the form of codified rules and a boxing ring.
To soften the blows and make Muay Thai a less fierce form of martial arts, it became common practice for fighters to wear boxing gloves in competitions instead of the hand-wrapped rope technique employed previously.
Muay Thai differs from other combat sports through its evident ties with tradition.
In Thailand especially, the pre-fight dance ritual “Wai Kru Ram Muay” is still an integral part of Muay Thai.
Fighters will wear traditional Mongkon headdresses while they perform the Wai Kru Ram Muay as Sarama music plays in the background.
What Is the History of Muay Thai?
The mighty Sukhothai dynasty of Thailand is where Muay Thai’s origins can be traced back to.
In the 13th century, the Sukhothai dynasty had good reason to protect their kingdom, so, out of necessity, a Thai army was formed to protect land and country.
Soldiers were taught and trained in a revolutionary means of martial arts which, coupled with their fierce bravery, gave them an edge against their adversaries and rivals.
It is from these combat-readied soldiers that Muay Boran and much later Muay Thai took influence.
As the centuries rolled on and the wars with neighboring kingdoms and tribes stacked up, the importance of Muay Thai for the people of Thailand grew and solidified.
One story that has faired well in the storybook of time is the tale of Nai Khanom Tom.
During the soldier’s forced imprisonment at a time when the Siam kingdom was under siege, Nai Khanom Tom fought off and defeated nine Burmese fighters on his own.
Whether this story is myth or truth matters little.
What does matter is that it matters to modern-day Muay Thai and gives fighters the inner strength to take on their opponents.
It is also celebrated each and every year on the 17th of March?
What Is Muay Thai Like in the Modern Day?
Muay Thai grew in popularity considerably since the end of World War 1.
It is now one of the most celebrated and practiced forms of martial arts in the world.
Modern Muay Thai has managed to hold onto Muay Boran traditions, strikes, and techniques of yesteryear while modernizing into a sport that is both engaging to watch and participate in.
One of the ways it has modernized is through the introduction of rounds with time limits.
Each fight consists of between three and five rounds and a specified set of rules must be followed by all fighters.
Modern-day Muay Thai is a lot safer than Muay Boran.
That’s not to say it isn’t a brutal form of martial arts, but the potentially deadly techniques of Muay Boran have been taken out of the sport.
Muay Thai has, however, managed to keep its eight-point striking system.
This system is one of Muay Thai’s most defining aspects and is a big reason for its popularity on the world stage.
Most martial art forms use a system that is known as the four-point striking system.
This translates to only delivering punches and kicks. Muay Thai’s eight-point system incorporates other kick variations as well as elbow and knee striking techniques.
What Are Muay Thai Techniques?
As we have just pointed out, one of the biggest differences between Muay Thai and other martial art forms is its approved combat techniques.
Muay Thai fighting techniques can be divided into attack, defense, and counter techniques.
Becoming an experienced and regarded Muay Thai fighter involves acquiring the muscle memory of each of these techniques.
- Punch: Punches are a common and effective form of attack in Muay Thai. Learning the punching techniques of jab, hook, cross, overhead, uppercut, and the spinning back fist is essential for Muay Thai.
- Elbow: Elbows are one of the hardest parts of the human body which makes them incredibly effective weapons in Muay Thai.
- Kick: Muay Thai kicks are often fight-ending blows if delivered, correctly, with force, to the shins. They can also be delivered to other parts of the body like the head.
- Knees: Knees are delivered via a fighter’s rear leg to offer extra force. They can be delivered straight or diagonally when in striking distance of an opponent.
- Teep: The push kick known in Muay Thai as the “teep” can be used defensively and offensively effectively. It does this by disrupting an advance by an opponent or striking them when delivered with power.
- Clinch: The grappling technique known in martial arts as “clinching” is used in Muay Thai in combination with elbow and knee striking. It is both brutal and needs to be delivered close range. This makes it one to work toward and not to try as a beginner.
So there you have it. You now know exactly what Muay Thai is all about.
Whether you’re interested in it purely as a spectator or with the intention to participate, we hope you found this article useful in understanding the honorable world of Muay Thai kickboxing.