Thai boxing (Muay Thai)
The art of Thailand fight.
Almost anything goes in this martial sport, both in the ring
and in the stands. If you don't mind the violence (in the ring) a
Thai boxing match is worth attending for the pure spectacle the wild
musical accompaniment, the ceremonial beginning of each match and
the frenzied betting around the stadium. Thai boxing is also telecast on channel 3 5 7 9 every Sunday
afternoon, if you are wondering where everyone is, They are probably
in side watching the nation sport.
History of Thai boxing
Most of what is known about the early history of Thai boxing
comes from Burmese accounts of warfare between Burma and Thailand
during the 15th and 16th centuries.
The earliest reference (1411
AD) mentions a ferocious style of unarmed combat that decided the
fate of Thai kings. A later description tell how Nai Khanom
Tom, Thailand's first famous boxer and a prisoner of war in
Burma, gained his freedom by roundly defeating a dozen Burmese
warriors before the Burmese court.
To this day, many martial art
aficionados consider the Siamese style the ultimate in hand-to-hand
Hong Kong, China, Singapore, Taiwan, Korea, Japan, the
USA, Netherlands, Germany and France have all sent their best and
none of the challengers have been able to defeat top-ranked Thai
On one famous occasion, Hong Kong's top five Kung Fu
masters were dispatched in less than 6.30 minutes cumulative total,
King Naresuan the Great (1555-1605)
was supposed to have been a top-notch boxer himself. He made Muay Thai a required
part of malitary training for all Thai solders.
Thai King, Phra Chao Seua (the Tiger King) further promoted
Thai boxing as a national sport by encouraging prize fights and the
development of training camps in the early 18th century. There
are accounts of massive wagers and bouts to the death during this
time. Phra Chao Seaua is said to have been an incognito participant
in many of the matches during the early part of his
Combatants' fists were wrapped in thick horse hide for
maximum impact with minimum knuckle damage. They also used cotton
soaked in glue and ground glass and later hemp. Tree bark and
seashells were used to protect the groin from lethal kicks.
The high incidence of death and physical injury led the Thai
government to institute a ban on Muay Thai in the 1920s, but in the
'30s, the sport was revived under a modern set of requlations based
on the international Queensberry rules.
Bouts were limited to
five three-minute rounds separated with two-minute breaks.
Contestants had to wear international-style glove and trunks
(always) either in red or blue) and their feet were taped but no
There are 16 weight division in Thai boxing, ranging
from miniflyweight to heavweight, with the best fighters said to be
in the welterweight division (67 kgs., maximum)
international -style boxing, matches take place on a 7.3 sqmeter
canvas-covered floor with rope retainers supported by four padded
posts, rather than the traditional dirt circle. In spite of these concessions to safety today, all surfaces
of the body are still considered fair targets and any part of the
body may be used to strike an opponent, except the head.
blows include high kicks to the neck, elbow thrusts to the face and
head, knee hooks to the ribs and low crescent kicks to the calf. A
contestant may even grasp an opponent's head between his hands and
pull it down to meet an upward knee thrust.
considered the weakest of all blows and kicking merely a way to
"soften up" one's opponent; it is the knee and elbow strikes that
are decisive in most matches.
The training of a Thai boxer
and particularly the relationship between boxer and trainer is highly ritualised. When a
boxer is considered ready for the ring, he is given a new name by
his trainer, usually with the name of the training camp as his
For the public, the relationship is perhaps best
expressed in the "ram muay" (Boxing dance) that takes place
before every match. The ram muay ceremony usually lasts about five minutes and
expressed obeisance to the fighter's guru (khruu), as well as to the
guardian spirit of Thai boxing. This is done through a series of
gestures and body movement performed in rhythem to ringside musical
accompaniment of Thai oboe (pii) and percussion. Each boxer works
out his own dance, in conjunction with his trainer and in accordance
with the style of his particular camp.
The woven headbands and armbands worn into the ring by
fighters are sacred ornaments which bestow blessings and divine
protection; the headband is removed after the ram muay ceremony, but
the armband, wich actually contains a small Buddha image, is worn
throughout the match.
After the bout begins, the fighters
continue to bob and weave in rhythm until the action begins to heat
up. The musicians continue to play throughtout the match and the
volume and tempo of the music rise and fall along with the events in
the ring. As Thai boxing has become more popular among Westerners (both
spectators and participants) there are increasing numbers of bouts
staged for tourists in places like Pattaya, Phuket and Ko
In these, the action may be genuine but the judging below
par. Nonetheless, dozens of authentic matches are held every day of
the year at the major Bangkok stadiums and in the provinces (there
are about 60,000 full-time boxers in Thailand) and these are easily
sought out. Several Thai "nak muay" have gone on to win world
championships in international style boxing. Khaosai Galaxy, the
geratest Asian boxer of all time, chalked up 19 WBA bantamweight
championships in a row be fore retiring undefeated in December
In Thailand and English language periodical called "Muay
Thai: Thai championship Boxing" appears annually at Bangkok,
Chiang Mai and Phuket bookshops that sell English language material.
The annual includes features on muay Thai events aborad as well as