||Muay thai is a martial art and an international combat sport from Thailand. It is a kick-boxing art that mainly uses “the eight limbs of the body” – punches, kicks, elbows, and knee strikes, making it one of the deadliest martial arts in the world.|
Before and during the match, music involving traditional instruments like oboe or piphat (Pi), cymbals (Ching), and drums (Glawng Khaek) is played to encourage the fighters. They perform a classical dance-like graceful movements around the right, show respect to their coaches by touching their foreheads to the ground, and pray for a minute with their coaches at the corners of the ring (Algie 2013).
Muay thai is closely associated with other stand-up striking systems originating in the neighbouring states such as Indian musti-yuddha, Laotian muay lao, Burmese lethwei, Cambodian pradal serey, and Malaysian tomoi.
||There are many different sources about the origins of muay thai that can date back over a thousand years (Algie 2013). However, all references suggest in common that muay thai has developed with the history of war of Thailand, being used as an effective fighting method of Thai warriors. During the period of wars, a warfare manual called Chupasart was drafted for instructing Thai warriors how to employ various weapons in war. Applying the Chupasart techniques to the close-combat fighting, Thai warriors made use of “the eight limbs” in a more lethal way. Legend has it that, during the war in the 18th century between ancient kingdoms of Thailand and Burma, Thai boxers were captured and were made to fight against Burmese fighters as part of entertainment and festival. Nai Khanom Tom, one of the Thai boxers, defeated ten Burmese boxers in a row and was awarded two wives and freedom by the Burmese King who was impressed by his techniques and rituals. Thailand annually celebrates Nai Khanom Tom day on the 17th of March commemorating his achievements. |
Muay thai started to gain popularity as a “sport” during the rule of King Prachao Sua in the late 17th century (International Federation of Muaythai Associations, n.d.). The King was a great aficionado of the art that he often participated in the local competitions secretly, defeating advanced practitioners (International Federation of Muaythai Associations, n.d.). He also ordered the military to train muay thai for combat readiness, which was the early form of muay thai competitions (International Federation of Muaythai Associations, n.d.). Muay thai soldiers have for a long time practised muay thai.
From the early 20th century, muay thai began to become an institutionalised sport as modern rules, regulations, and equipment were introduced, replacing many conventional elements (International Federation of Muaythai Associations, n.d.).
Later, it has been spread to all Thai people as a popular sport, pastime, and culture, being featured in many films, video games, anime, and other media.
|International Federation of Muaythai Associations was founded in 1980, which has become the only governing body of muay thai affiliated with the International Olympic Committee.|
||- International Federation of Muaythai Associations|
||- Algie, J. (2013). Thailand Tuttle Travel Pack: Your Guide to Thailand’s Best Sights for Every Budget, Tuttling Publishing.|
- International Federation of Muaythai Associations. (n.d.). “History of Muaythai”