Thai boxing, Muay Thai, has many similarities with two other types of boxing from neighbouring countries, Burmese boxing and Cambodian boxing.
In the run-up to the 32nd Southeast Asian Games in Cambodia, the Cambodian government has launched nationalistic provocations by claiming that Thai boxing, Muay Thai, is a variant of Khmer Kun, Cambodian boxing.
A surprising statement considering that the very origin of Khmer Kun is unknown and that Cambodia, like Thailand and Myanmar, has been heavily influenced by Indian culture and beliefs.
The three martial arts of Myanmar, Thailand and Cambodia incorporate punches, kicks, elbows, knees and grabs.
Burmese boxing (Lethwei) which is considered one of the most brutal martial arts in the world, as it is practiced with bare hands, is called the art of the 9 limbs, as it uses headbutts in addition.
Its origin is unknown and the oldest historical records date from the 12th century.
Thai boxing (Muay thai)As for it, it is called the art of the 8 limbs, its origin is unknown, there is just an account of a fight that took place in 1411.
The same applies to the kun khmer or Pradal SereyThe origin of this style of boxing is not known, only that a similar style of boxing existed in the 9th century.
The actual origin of his three boxing styles is therefore unknown, but the techniques are close to the Musti-yuddha a combat sport originating from the Indian subcontinent whose name in Sanskrit means "fist fight".
This martial art incorporates, like the other three boxes, punches, kicks, elbows, knees and grabs.
The earliest references to musti-yuddha come from classical Vedic epics such as the Ramayana and the Rig Veda.
The Ramayana was composed between the 3rd century BC and the 3rd century AD.
The bulk of the Rigveda Samhita was composed in the northwestern region of the Indian subcontinent most probably between 1500 and 1000 BCE.
The Mahabharatawhich was probably compiled between the 3rd century BC and the 3rd century AD, describes two fighters boxing with closed fists and fighting with kicks, punches, knees and headbutts, as in Burmese boxing.
At the beginning of each Cambodian boxing match, the boxers perform Hindu prayer rituals known as kun kru.
There are different variations of the ritual, but most are based on the main characters of the Reamkerthe Cambodian version of the Ramayana...
The Thais also wrote their version of the Ramayana, the Ramakien.
One can therefore imagine that the origin of its three boxes comes from the Indian subcontinent.
The martial arts of these three countries have developed at the rhythm of wars and invasions and have also been inspired, with cultural exchanges, by Chinese martial arts such as Kung Fu.
It is known that there are several schools of muay thai that teach different techniques in different regions.
It must be the same in other countries, new techniques are found and the art evolves according to the regions and the people who practice it.
It is therefore impossible for a leader to claim that one of his martial arts originated in his country.
The nationalists of these three countries, rather than seeking trouble with their neighbours, should rather recognise the contribution of the Indian subcontinent, in terms of art, writing, music, architecture, legends, dances...
There were also tensions between Thailand and Cambodia overa temple under construction in Thailand which would be inspired by the temple of Angkor Wat.
In July 2021, many Cambodian nationalists expressed their anger on social networks about this temple and the Cambodian Minister of Culture and Fine Arts even made a trip to Thailand to check the facts.
Eventually, it was confirmed that the temple built in Thailand was not a replica of Angkok Wat and tensions subsided.
But do Cambodians have the right to be offended that another country is inspired by a Khmer temple that is itself inspired by Hindu temples in India and dedicated to the Indian god Vishnu?
See also in relation to Indian heritage:
In Thailand, there is a colour for each day of the week
The Apsara dancers, celestial nymphs
Nang Kwak and the figurines to attract Fortune
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