Muay Thai is a martial art that has been around for centuries. It originated in Thailand and has since become popular all over the world. Muay Thai is known for its powerful kicks and punches and its ability to inflict serious damage on an opponent. In this article, we will take a closer look at the history of Muay Thai and explore how it has evolved over the years.
Muay Thai came into existence on the battlefield, which makes it unique compared to other martial arts since most of them were invented with the intention of them becoming a combat sport. Muay Thai became popular in Thailand due to its effectiveness in battle. The Thai people used it to defend their country against invaders, and eventually, it gained a reputation as one of the most powerful martial arts in the world. It was very useful for the soldiers as it was not uncommon to lose your weapon on the battlefield, and since they needed a way to keep on fighting, they developed the art of Muay Thai.
Muay Thai has come a long way since its inception centuries ago. It is now considered one of the most powerful martial arts globally and has gained a large following all over the globe.
The History Of Muay Thai
Muay Thai can be traced at least to the 16th century as a martial art that was supposed to be used on the battlefield. Even though some people say, it can be traced all the way back to the 13th century. Muay Thai was developed as a martial art with the goal of giving the Thai soldiers a means of defense on the battlefield. It is not uncommon for soldiers to lose their weapons while in a battle, but they have to keep fighting no matter what, and that is where Muay Thai came into focus. In the 18th century, it began to be used as a means of physical training for the military. At that time, it was known as “Muay Boran,” which means “ancient boxing.”
Numerous sources show us how Muay Thai played an enormous role in Thai culture and its society. For example, national issues were often decided by a Muay Thai match.
The martial art gained popularity under the reign of King Naresuan at the end of the 16th century. During the late 16th century and forth, all the Thai soldiers had to train in Muay Thai. One of the most notable facts about Muay Thai is the fact that it is also called “The Sport Of Kings” since even the kings of Thailand practiced it.
You also need to know about the Tiger King (not the Netflix one) called Prachao Sua. He loved Muay Thai so much that he supposedly went undercover into Muay Thai village contests and fought with local fighters, most often beating them. During his reign, the nation was at peace; however, he insisted that the army should continue to train and perfect it. The martial art soon became a very popular combat sport amongst all walks of life. Each village had its champions, and tournaments were held quite often.
King Rama the Fifth gave out the fighters who won championships prestigious military titles, which were considered very honorable amongst the population. And during the reign of his successor King Rama the Sixth, the rules of the sport were established, such as fights had to be fought in the ring, and the rounds started to be timed with a clock.
As you can see, the kings of Thailand were of great influence on Muay Thai and its development as a combat sport.
Up to the 20th century, Muay Thai was even in the school curriculum; however, it was removed due to a high amount of injuries. Proper equipment was not yet in use, which put the student in more danger of an injury.
Soon, Muay Thai spread into the West like a wildfire after the people saw its potential as a combat sport and a means of self-defense.
When Was Muay Thai Introduced In The West?
The rise of Muay Thai in the West began during the First World War when the Kingdom of Siam joined the Allies. The Thai soldiers often practiced Muay Thai while stationed in France, which piqued the interest of the French soldiers who wanted to learn it.
During the Second World War, the British and the American soldiers that were stationed in Thailand were eager to learn Muay Thai since they saw its potential as a martial art and a combat sport. Soon additional rules were solidified. Not long after the Second World War, the Thai fighters started fighting in international matches, which at that time were very few.
But like almost everything else, it gained widespread recognition and adoption after Hollywood got its fingers involved. There is a legend saying that Bruce Lee traveled to Thailand in order to film the “Big Boss” movies, and that is where they supposedly saw Muay Thai and became impressed with its effectiveness. It is also said that Bruce Lee acquired some Muay Thai moves into his own skillset.
One of the bigger steps of Muay Thai became popular in the West was thanks to a Thai fighter named Thohsaphol Sitiwatjana. To be more precise, he scored a small role in the movie “The Man with the Golden Gun,” after which he moved to England, Manchester. He opened his Muay Thai gym there, one of the first in England. He has brought a lot of Muay Thai influence to the West by teaching many fighters The art of the eight limbs.
And maybe the biggest influence on the popularity of Muay Thai in the West was due to the movie “Kickboxer .”I am sure we all have seen this movie; if you have not, finish this article and get right on it! While it has its number of cliché moments, it is still a legendary martial arts movie. Spoilers ahead. In short, it tells the story of Kurt (Van Damme) and his brother Eric who travel to Thailand to fight. Eric gets destroyed and paralyzed by a Muay Thai champion, and Kurt swears to revenge him. Kurt learns Muay Thai from a master who lives in the forest and gets his revenge.
The sport gained further recognition with the K1 kickboxing production, which was starting to get spread all over the world. The reason the K1 kickboxing production helped Muay Thai is the fact that Muay Thai dominated the kickboxing matches. And everyone flocks to the most effective martial art.
Western Fighters In Thailand
During the late 80s and 90s, some western martial artists started going to Thailand in order to train but mostly to compete against the Thais. There were numerous rivalries between the westerners and the Thais. And there were also well-known rivalries between the Japanese karatekas and Thai fighters who dominated the Japanese karatekas multiple times.
The Thais were not very welcoming to the westerners, especially the ones who wanted to prove that their martial art was better than Muay Thai.
One of the fighters who set the foundation for other western fighters in Thailand was Ramon “The Diamond” Dekker’s legendary rivalry and eventual win over Coban Lookchaomaesaitong. As Ramon was winning more and more fights in Thailand, he eventually gained the chance to fight against the reigning Lumpinee Stadium champion Nangbon Nongeeb Pahuyuth and knocked him out. He was the first Caucasian to beat a Lumpinee Stadium champion ever, and Ramon was only 20 years old at the time. The Thais wished for Ramon to lose and get out of Thailand, and their solution to the problem was Coban, who knocked Ramon out in their first fight. In 1991 however, Ramon worked on his plan for the next fight and managed to get the upper hand this time around. He knocked Coban out and won the respect of the Thai people, who embraced him as one of their own. The Coban vs. Ramon rivalry was one of the most legendary the sport has ever seen, and the two have fought four times against each other during their careers resulting in two wins and two losses for each of them.
Since the early 2000s, you can see a great influx of westerners into Thailand with the goal of learning the martial art of perfecting their skills in it. From only tourists to professionals alike, all of them come to Thailand to learn and experience the martial art of Muay Thai even further. Westerners who are not very experienced in Muay Thai can fall into traps where they could pay hefty amounts to train under coaches who have no idea what they are doing and “win fights” against taxi drivers who just need to take a couple of punches or kicks and go down for a good paycheck. There are numerous schemes in Thailand for unknowing westerners.
On the other hand, you can see multiple world-class kickboxers and MMA fighters who go to Thailand to perfect their skills. Tiger Muay Thai might be the perfect example where western fighters go to train with the goal of improving. Some of the most famous examples who train at Tiger Muay Thai are Peter Yan, Valentina Shevchenko, Rafael Fiziev, Alexander Volkanovski, and Israel Adesanya.
Is Muay Thai A Martial Art?
Muay Thai is, in fact, considered a martial art. It is a form of self-defense that uses fists, elbows, knees, and shins to attack the opponent. The techniques used in Muay Thai are also used in other forms of martial arts. Muay Thai is a popular sport that is practiced all over the world. Many people enjoy watching Muay Thai fights and competitions. The goal of Muay Thai is to knock out the opponent or win via decision.
What Are The Benefits Of Muay Thai?
Muay Thai is known for its powerful kicks and punches. It can be a very dangerous sport if not practiced correctly. Training in a gym with a certified instructor is the best way to learn how to do Muay Thai safely. There are many benefits to training in Muay Thai, including:
– improved fitness and physical conditioning
– increased strength and muscle tone
– better self-defense skills
– discipline and focus
– stress relief
Muay Thai is a great workout that can help improve your overall fitness level. It is also a great way to learn self-defense skills.
Muay Thai Rules?
While some organizations might have minor differences in rulesets, most of them have the same basic rules everyone in Muay Thai adheres to.
The fights are meant to be fought in the ring and timed accordingly. Most of the rounds last for 3 minutes, while in some organizations, depending on the skill and age of the fighters, it might last 2 minutes, 4 minutes, or 5 minutes. There is always a one-minute rest interval between the rounds. Most of the fights last three rounds, while some championship fights might last five rounds.
What Is Allowed
- Knee strikes
What Is Not Allowed
- Kicks to the groin
- Eye pokes
- Kicks and punches on a downed opponent
- Hits to the back of the head
- No grabbing of your opponent’s shorts or hair
What Is Mandatory
- Groin Guard
- Mouth Guard
- Boxing gloves
- Hand wraps
- Shin Guards for amateur fights
- The fights to be fought in the ring or, more recently, in a cage.
Muay Thai Trivia
- Muay Thai has also been featured in many Hollywood movies over the years, which has helped to increase its popularity even further. The most famous Muay Thai movie is probably Ong Bak, which was released in 2003.
- Kicks to the groin were perfectly legal in Muay Thai matches up until the 1930s.
- Muay Thai is the preferred striking martial art amongst UFC fighters.
- Most Thai kids start training at the age of 6.
- The Mongkhon is sacred to the Thai culture and should not be allowed to touch the floor and be stepped over.
- The Wai Kru is supposed to give the fighter good luck before the fight and is also used as a way to show your teacher, your gym, and the sport respect and gratitude.
Muay Thai is a very unique and powerful combat sport. It has grown in popularity in the world since the 1990s and has been growing ever since. A vast number of people train it to learn to defend themselves, get in shape or compete in The art of the eight limbs. It is a truly wonderful combat sport, and everyone should give it a try.