Muay Thai or Thai boxing is a martial art that is known for its maximum efficiency and raw simplicity. With a long fascinating history that spans over 600 years, today Muay Thai has become one of the most well-known and practiced martial arts in the world.
This guide will tell you everything you need to know about Muay Thai, from its history and origin, the strikes used, and the benefits you can gain from learning Muay Thai.
What is Muay Thai?
Muay Thai is a stand-up striking combat sport that originated in Thailand. Also known as "The Art of 8 Limbs", this discipline utilizes fists, elbows, knees, and shins to strike the opponent. Each limb mimics the weapons of war. The hand/fist becomes the sword; the elbows act like a mace or hammer; the shins play the role of a shield, and the knees take the place of an ax.
History of Muay Thai
While the true origin and history of Muay Thai is a subject of debate, it is believed that Muay Thai origin dates back to at least the 13th century as an unarmed fighting method used by Thai warriors to defend their kingdom.
One of the most popular accounts regarding the history of Muay Thai is that of the famed Thai Boxer named Nai Khanom Tom, a prisoner taken from his home in the sacking of the ancient Thai capital Ayutthaya during conflicts with Burma.
According to the legend, Nai Khanom Tom defeated 9 Burmese fighters during his imprisonment after the Siam kingdom was under siege. This historical event is now celebrated as Muay Thai day which takes place every year on March 17th.
Modern Muay Thai
Throughout the 19th century, the country of Thailand was at peace, and with the King of Thailand taking a personal interest in Muay Thai, the sport started being used as a means of physical fitness, self-defense, and recreation.
In the 1920s, the Thai King (King Rama VII) pushed for and formulated the first codified rules of Muay Thai, in which fighters began to wear gloves and groin protectors. This was also the time when the term Muay Thai began to be used, which was previously popularly known as Muay Boran.
The next major advancement in Muay Thai came in 1993 when the International Federation of Muay Thai Amateur was formed with 128 member states, governed by the Olympic Council of Asia. Then in 1995 the oldest professional Muay Thai federation, the World Muay Thai Council, was formed by the Royal Thai Government and sanctioned by the Sports Authority of Thailand.
Muay Thai Techniques
Muay Thai techniques can be generalized into three categories. The first one is attacking techniques which consist of punches, elbow strikes, knee strikes, kicks, and clinches. The second one is defense techniques consisting of moves such as blocks, lean backs, deflections, leg catches, and dodges. And the last one is counter techniques which make up from a mix between attacking and defending techniques.
Muay Thai Strikes
These are the following methods to strike the opponents in Muay Thai combat.
Similar to western boxing, Muay Thai punches are thrown with a closed fist toward the opponent’s head and body with moves such as lead punch (jab), straight rear punch (cross), uppercut, hook, overhead punch, and spinning back fist.
In Muay Thai, elbows are typically thrown to the head of the opponent. The elbow strikes often aim to cut the opponent’s skin and can be lethal in a fight.
The Muay Thai kick is probably one of the most famous devastating kicks in martial arts. The kicks are thrown in a round-house motion, bringing the shin bone crashing into their opponent’s body or head.
The most popular Muay Thai kicks moves are low kick, body kick, body kick, and push kick.
Knee strikes are typically used as close-range weapons during clinching. Muay Thai knees can be thrown from many positions: straight knee, clinch knee, and flying knee.
Although Muay Thai is a stand-up striking martial art, there is also an element of stand-up grappling known as the Muay Thai clinch. Clinching is a grappling technique usually used in combination with knee and elbow strikes to take the opponent down to the grown.
Muay Thai Defense
In a Muay Thai match, the boxer must also evade the strikes that are being thrown at them by their opponents. This is done via guarding with the hands and shins to block punches and kicks.
Is Muay Thai The Same As Kickboxing
While these disciplines seem very much alike, there are a lot of striking differences between Muay Thai and kickboxing that should also be taken into account.
The most apparent difference between Muay Thai and kickboxing is that Muay Thai is an eight-point striking system that involves striking with elbows, knees, kicks, and punches, whereas kickboxing is a four-point striking system that only utilizes punches and kicks.
What Are The Main Benefits of Muay Thai?
Like most sports, Muay Thai can help you achieve a high level of fitness. It can help you become faster, stronger, and healthier if practiced on a regular basis. Muay Thai is also an extremely effective form of martial arts and is great for those who want to lose weight. It’s the go-to activity for people wanting a muscular yet lean physique.
These are some of the main benefits that you can achieve from Muay Thai:
- Increases core strength
- improves cardiovascular health
- Enhances self-discipline
- Increases self-confidence and mental toughness
Is Muay Thai Difficult to Learn?
Muay Thai is easy to learn because most of its moves are simple and straightforward with very few artistic strikes. In Muay Thai, you also won’t find katas like in other forms of martial arts such as Karate and Taekwondo, so it doesn’t involve a lot of movement memorization. Muay Thai training places emphasis on repetitive training of techniques to train muscle memory.
Ubud Muay Thai is the first Muay Thai gym & community in Ubud, Bali, designed for anyone looking to level up their fitness and unlock the limitless power within themselves!