Muay Thai or Thai boxing: everything about the art of eight limbs

Learn all about Muay Thai, the Thai Boxing, a national martial art in Thailand, known as one of the most effective combat sports.

Muay Thai Overview

Thai boxing or Muay Thai is a combat sport created for the Thai army in the sixteenth century.

Muay Thai is also called the “Art of Eight Limbs” or the “science of eight limbs” because it uses punches, kicks, elbows and knee strikes, thus using eight “points contact.”

See: Muay Thaï: Thai boxing techniques with illustrations

A practitioner of Muay Thai is known as a nak muay.

Western practitioners are sometimes called Nak Muay Farang, meaning “foreign fighter.”

Muay Thai Fight

This martial art is classified in the West among the Boxes Fists Feet.

Battles take place in five rounds of three minutes.

They are preceded by the Wai Kru (Thai Wai to show his respect to his teacher), and the Ram Muay, a ritual dance.

See:  The Ram Muay, ritual dance before Muay Thai fighting

Muay Thai originated in ancient martial practices, such as Muay Boran (traditional boxing) and Krabi krabong (practice with weapons).

High-level Muay Thai requires:

  • good brain capacity, (set of vision, taking adequate and prompt decision game intelligence)
  • mental abilities necessary, such as determination, will, and courage.
  • strong technical skills with as physical support skills such as muscle flexibility, speed, and responsiveness to a signal (reflexes); and furthermore, to combat the KO-system,
  • muscle power.

Muay Thai is a popular sport because of its efficiency; it surpasses many other combat sports when competitions are organized (as with fighters practicing Karate, Kung Fu, Boxing).

Other Southeast Asian boxes (Burmese boxing, Khmer boxing, Laotian boxing, Vietnamese boxing), it is the most popular of the five disciplines.

Like its cousins, it has a reputation of being a violent practice, but practitioners believe that any technique can make the control object.

Roger Paschy, one of the pioneers of the sport in France, speaks thus:

“Thai boxing can be a sport that people qualify sports thug indiscriminately.

It requires a lot of will and attendance.

But, as in any sport, the teacher has a fundamental role in the formation of the student.

The mood of the teacher will have a considerable influence on the disciple. ”

History of Muay Thai

The ancient history, of Muay Thai, are presented in a standardized way in abundant literature in Thailand.

The oldest historical data, which would show that boxing practices before the nineteenth century, are inspired mainly by the royal chronicles, repeatedly rewritten (especially in Rama I) after the destruction of the eighteenth century (fall of Ayutthaya in 1767).

It is therefore difficult to confirm the historicity of the legend and the origins of Muay Thai.

Similarly, we must not ignore the strong ideological content, including nationalist, who heads Thailand to the presentation of the origins of Thai boxing (Muay Boran) its ancient history and its contemporary image.

The battle of the sons of King Sen Muang Ma

According to tradition, in 1411, to the death of King Sen Muang Ma, his two sons, Man Fang and Ki Fang wanted to seize power.

As their armies were unable to decide on a battlefield, they chose to settle their dispute by a duel.

Each side chooses its best boxer. Man Fang was beaten, and Ki ascended the throne.

The fighting technique of his warrior ( “boxer”) made the school.

The popularity of Muay Thai

In the sixteenth century, Thai boxing was part of military training.

King Naresuan the Great (r. 1590-1605) has encouraged the practice.

It reached its greatest popularity in the early eighteenth century, during the reign of Pra Chao Sua, “King Tiger.”

It was the favorite pastime of the population; each village organized fighting regularly.

The king, who was a boxer first force, was amused to challenge local champions!

The first equipment of boxers

At the time the fighters were protecting their fists by horny hands with horsehair.

Later, the horsehair was replaced by strips of cotton held with glue.

They used shells or tree bark, like Guard Groin!

Sometimes, with the agreement of both boxers, pieces of glass could be amalgamated into the glue bandages.

At that time, the fighting took place without weight classes or time limits (fight “to the finish”).

The legend of Nai Khanom Tom

According to legend, Nai Khanom Tom, soldier and boxer captured by the Burmese in 1767, was opposed to ten Burmese champions he knocked.

He became a national hero, which Thais honor each year on the occasion of the “Night of boxers.”

New rules to make less dangerous Muay Thai

Considered dangerous, even fatal, Thai boxing was banned in 1921.

Then, around 1930, he reappeared in adopting the rules of competition and the Boxing hand techniques (boxing gloves, ring, occasions ban headshots, etc.).

The different styles of Muay Thai

Le Muay thaï
Muay-Thai is a descendant of Muay Boran, martial practice with several regional styles, and some traditional martial methods (some of which are inspired by animal behavior).

Among the most popular styles are:

the Muay Chaiya or “muay-giow” (Southern style), the style of the nineteenth century emphasizes alertness to find effective strategies.

The posture is angular, the defense is privileged, and elbow and knee techniques are particularly marked.

Techniques from animals used (including Tiger).

The “Muay Korat” (East and Northeast), favors a workforce, such techniques buffalo.

The “muay-Lopburi” (central region), the focus is on smart gestures (working on variations of trajectory and weapon shams).

The “Muay-Thasao” (North), the techniques are to overtake the opponent

styles and themes such techniques Kanaga (called Hanuman).

A formula summarizes the main styles of Muay Boran :

“The powerful fist of Korat, the spirit of Lopburi, the Chaiya posture and the speed of Thasao. “.

These non-competitive practices of the Thai fighting art are grouped (Thailand) in the word “Muay-Thai mae May.”

The Mongkhon and Pra Jiad

Nak Muay Thai and his coach

The Mongkhon (headband) and Pra Jiad (armbands) are often worn in the ring before the start of the match.

They date back to the time when Thailand was in a state of constant war, where young men tore the clothing of a loved one (often the sarong their mother) and wore to fight for good luck and to ward evil spirits.

In modern times, the Mongkol (literally meaning holy spirit, luck, and protection) is worn as a tribute to the gym fighter.

A trainer fighter traditionally presents the Mongkol once he feels that the fighter is ready to represent the name of the gym in the ring.

When fighter ended the Wai Kru (Wai to the teacher, see also Thai Wai), the coach removes Mongkol and places it on the corner of the ring to get lucky.

That the fighter is Buddhist or not, it is common for them to bring the Mongkol to a Buddhist monk to bless him before the fight.

Muay Thai in Thailand

National Sport and real industry, Muay Thai sustains some 200,000 people, boxers, trainers, traders, etc.

This large commercial business is managed by two organizations of promoters who organize fights every day.

The number of practitioners is estimated at 100,000, and each week hundreds of fights taking place across the country.

Many small training clubs (called “camps”) dot the country and welcome youth from seven.

The major battles are regularly broadcast on Saturdays and Sundays by regional and national television channels.

The two most famous Thai boxing stadiums in Bangkok are the Lumpinee and Rajadamnoen Boxing Stadium.

Known around the world, they are considered as references in Muay-Thai.

The Lumpini stadium was moved in 2014 in northern Bangkok Lat Phrao.

The Rajadamnoen stadium, most prestigious and old, is on Rajadamnoen Nok Road, opposite the headquarters of the Royal Thai Army, which manages it.

The Rajadamnoen stadium
The Rajadamnoen stadium

Internationalization of Thai boxing

The development of tourism in Thailand has brought muay-Thai to other nations.

It first spread to the Netherlands and then quickly became a competitor in France to full-contact and American kick-boxing (low-kick), in its “original” version and its Japanese version, Japanese kick-boxing (or K-1).

In 1966, Kyokushin kai Kenji Kurosaki, karate enthusiast challenged a Thai boxer and was beaten by K.O. in the first round.

After this fight he stayed in Thailand for several months, to study muay-Thai, which he then introduced to Japan under the name of kick-boxing.

Muay Thai Fight

A video of the fight between two Muay Thai legend, Nokweed Davy, and Jerome Le Banner.

A documentary about the secrets of Thai boxing

French journalists have immersed themselves in the heart of authentic Muay Thai school!

A surprising report that also presents all the fighting techniques and full of this almost millennium warrior art history.

Photos: Fight Muay Thai: C_Scott; fighting Muay Thai: tacofleur; Fighters running wai-khru: WMF Japan; Rajadamnern Stadium kwankwan; Source:

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Settled in Thailand since a few years (with trips to Laos, Vietnam, Cambodia), I love this country and its inhabitants, the real country of Smiles! Sorry for any translation errors that may occur. Feel free to mention them in the comments, I will correct them. Thank you.

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