Muay Thai

From Academic Kids

Muay Thai (Thai มวยไทย, IPA /muai32 tʰai32/)means Thai Boxing. It is the Thai name for a indigenous form of martial art practiced in several Southeast Asia countries including Cambodia, where it is know as Pradal Serey.

Ram Muay before Amateur Muay Thai match
Ram Muay before Amateur Muay Thai match

Traditional Muay Thai has a long history in Thailand as a martial art used by the military. The military style of Muay Thai is called Lerdrit, while today's "sport Muay Thai" slightly varies from the original art and uses kicks and punches in a ring and with gloves similar to those used in boxing. Muay Thai is referred to as "The Science of Eight Limbs", as the hands, feet, elbows and knees are all used extensively in this art.



The basic offensive techniques in Muay Thai use hands, elbows, kicks and knees to strike the opponent. To bind the opponent for both offensive and defensive purposes, small amounts of stand-up grappling are used: the clinch. The clinch is applied by holding the opponent either around the neck or around the body. In Western Boxing, the two fighters are separated when they clinch. Defensively, the concept of "wall of defense" is used, in which shoulders, arms and legs are used to hinder the attacker from successfully executing his techniques. Because of the power involved with Muay Thai techniques, fighters do not often block strikes like in other martial arts. Fighters prefer to evade attacks by stepping out of range or moving toward their opponent in order to buffer techniques such as kicks.

Though the high kicks to the head appear spectacular during a competition, insiders of the sport claim that the elbows and the knees are most damaging.

Two Muay Thai techniques were adopted by fighters from other martial arts: The Thai low kick and the Thai roundhouse kick. They are actually variations of the same kick but hit at different heights. The low kick uses a rotational movement of the entire body to hit the opponent's outer thigh or side of knee with the shin. When not properly defended against, this technique often leads to the end of the fight, as the opponent has great difficulty standing after a few powerful low-kicks. The Thai roundhouse kick is also unique and was adapted for its efficiency. The kick is carried out with a straight leg and the entire body rotating from the hip, which is "locked" right before the leg makes contact to the opponent. At closer ranges, Thai boxers hit with the shin. At longer distances, the foot is the striking surface. Other martial arts, such as Karate tend to prefer "snappy" kicks, which are faster but less powerful.

Almost all techniques in Muay Thai use the entire body movement, rotating the hip with each kick, punch and block. This results in most techniques being slower but more powerful than techniques from karate although most boxers punch significantly harder. The rotation of the hips in Muay Thai techniqes, and intensive focus on 'core muscles' (such as abdominal muscles and surrounding muscles) is very distinctive and is what sets Muay Thai apart from other styles of martial arts.

During a competition, the participants perform a lengthy ritual and ceremony before the fight (wai khru ram muay). The ritual is both for religious reasons and as a stretching warmup.


Muay Thai does involve intensive training and conditioning of hardening the shins, elbows, fists, knees, and head. The hardening of these body parts is painful , but when in a fight being hit with one of those hardened parts is devastating. Other forms of stand-up striking based martial arts, when placed against the techniques and especially training of Muay Thai in a ring context, usually come up short. Such cases are in the many fights held in Thailand and internationally each year. The arts of san shou, karate and tae kwon do usually do not stress the fight conditioning of Muay Thai and thusly do not do as well in the competition fight ring. Muay Thai fighters train to absorb hard punishment and continue fighting as they are or hope to be professional paid sport athletes. Due to the rigourous fighting and training regimen (some Thai boxers fight practically every other week or so) professional Muay Thai fighters have relatively short careers in the ring. Bear in mind that most of the professional Thai boxers usually come from a poorer background and the fight money (after everyone else gets their cut) goes to supporting themselves and their families. Very few higher economic strata Thais join the professional Muay Thai ranks, they usually practise the sport as amateur Muay Thai boxers.


Traditionally in the past, Muay Thai was used as entertainment to the Kings and gloves were made out of wrapped twine, tar and broken pieces of glass to ensure a bloody event.

A very famous fighter was Nai Khanomtom. About 1774, he was captured along with other Thai prisoners either in a skirmish or at the fall of the ancient capital of Siam (Thailand's name at that time) of Ayutthaya. He was brought to Rangoon in Burma where the Burmese King Mangra was holding a religious festival in honor of Buddha's relics. The festivities included much entertainment. King Mangra was reported to be curious to see how the various fighting styles of Burma and other countries would compare. At one point, he wanted to see how Muay Thai (or Muay Boran) would compare to the Burmese art (either Parma (?) or Bando (?)). Nai Khanomtom was selected to fight against the Burmese champion. Nai Khanomtom did a Wai Kru (wai khru ram muay) pre-fight dance which puzzled the Burmese. When the fight began, he charged out and using punches, kicks, elbows and knees quickly pummelled the Burmese. The referee was reported to have stated that the Burmese was distracted by the Wai Kru (wai khru ram muay) so the knockout was invalid. The King then asked if Nai Khanomtom would fight nine other Burmese champions to prove himself. He agreed and fought them all, one after the other. The last Burmese was reputed to be a great boxing teacher. Nai Khanomtom defeated them all in a superior fashion. King Mangra was so impressed that he remarked,"Every part of the Thai is blessed with venom. Even with his bare hands he can fell nine or ten opponents. As his lord master was bad, so the country was lost to the enemy. If his lord were any good, there was no way the City of Ayutthaya would fall." He offered Nai Khanomtom freedom along with either riches or two beautiful Burmese wives. Nai Khanomtom chose the wives as he said that money was easier to find. He then departed with his wives for Siam (Thailand). Other variations of this story had him also winning the release of his fellow Thais. His feat is celebrated every March 17 as "Boxer's Day" or "National Muay Thai Day" in his honor and that of Muay Thai's.

Muay Thai along with Savate and Karate heavily influenced the development of kickboxing, which was later created in Japan, Europe and North America. Although except for Japan, kickboxing usually is a somewhat watered-down version of Muay Thai in where the fighters restrict their kicks to above the waist and elbows and knees are not allowed.

In the last decade, Muay Thai has enjoyed a boost in popularity in the whole world as it turned out to be very effective in popular no holds barred events, such as Pride Fighting Championship and the UFC (Ultimate Fighting Championship) competitions. It is widely recognized that a combination of a grappling art, such as Judo or Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, with Muay Thai is very effective in such fights.

There exists a Malaysian derivative of Muay Thai known as tomoi that is practised primarily in northern Malaysia, in the states that share a border with Thailand. The ethnic Malays in southern Thailand also refer to Muay Thai as tomoi.

Recently the film Ong-Bak helped to popularize Muay Thai.

The video game characters Sagat and Adon (Street Fighter), Joe Higashi (Fatal Fury), King (Art of Fighting), Zack (DOA3), Bruce Irvin (Tekken), and Brad Burns (Virtua Fighter) are Muay Thai fighters.

See Also

External links

eo:Taja boksado es:Muay thai fr:Muay tha he:אגרוף תאילנדי it:Muay Thai nl:Thaiboksen ja:ムエタイ pl:Boks tajski pt:Muay thai fi:Thainyrkkeily th:มวยไทย zh:泰拳


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