Muay Thai is the national sport of Thailand. It is often called the “art of eight limbs” because of strikes delivered with fists, elbows, knees, and legs. The sport uses stand up fighting along with various clinching techniques. Muay Thai is a full-contact sport that requires immense physical and mental discipline. As a fighting system it focuses on efficient techniques and proven in the ring strategies.
A practitioner of Muay Thai is called a “Nak Muay”.
History of Muay Thai
Muay Thai in Thailand evolved from Muay Boran. Muay Boran was a military combat system that soldiers in the Siamese Army used when they lost their weapons in combat. Muay Thai began being practiced for sporting events in the 16th century and gained world-wide notoriety in the 20th century after several high-profile matches were won by Nak Muays.
King Rama V was an avid fan of the sport. During his reign as king many camps opened up and students at the camp became like a family. The tradition of students at a boxing camp taking on the camp name as their surname started during this time and still continues today.
Under King Rama VII the first boxing rings in Thailand were built. The current rule system requiring boxing gloves and cloth wraps on the ankle and lower shin were instituted at this time. The wrapping of hands in hemp rope in lieu of boxing gloves was outlawed in Thailand at this time as too many deaths were occurring in the ring due to its use.
In the early 1990s the Gracie family brought Mixed Martial Arts to the United Stated with the UFC. The early years were dominated by Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu fighters. As the sport of MMA evolved Muay Thai proved its self to be the most effective stand-up striking method in the world. It is now the de facto standard for competitive Mixed Martial Artists.
The Muay Thai used in MMA is different from traditional Muay Thai. The rules of each sport require different techniques and strategies. Thais, worried about the dilution of their national sport, have made MMA illegal in Thailand.