Muay Thai




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Origin of Thai Boxing

Muay Thai or Thai Boxing is a martial art over 1000 years old. In combat it uses both hand and foot techniques. Old manuscripts describe eight basic tools of Thai Boxing: fists, elbows, knees, and legs. Similar but less known martial arts are practiced in other indochina counters: Laos, Cambodia, Burma (Bando Boxing), while Viet Vo Dao from Vietnam differs a lot, and is more similar to Karate. The history of Thai Boxing is connected with the migrations of the Thai tribe (meaning "free") in the 12th and 13th sentries from Juang-XI, sichuan and Hubei provinces in the south of China, into the present territory of Thailand. Migrations were particularly intensive in the thirteenth century under the pressures of Mongol hordes from the north. Therefore some sources assume that Thai Boxing has its origin in Chinese Boxing (Kung Fu), but that it has changed considerably. Other sources indicate that it originated during the period of incessant fights between the Thai Kingdom and their neighboring Burma, Khmer and Cham (Vietnam) states. This hypothesis is quite likely as the need for martial art was greatest during that time.

An old Thai legend mentions a fighter named Nai Kanom Thom who was captured by the Burmese and won freedom after winning barehanded against twelve Brumese gladiators. There is an annual tournament honoring him nowadays. According to the other legend from the 14th century, a fight between two boxers decided who would be the future king. It says that after the death of the old king Sen Muang Mu his sons Fang Keng and Ji Kumkam could not agree about the successor. As the conflict threatened to turn into civil war, the followers of each side agreed to stage a fight which would decide the future king. The fighter from the Ji Kumkam side won and Ji Kumkam thus became king.

The oldest historical document mentioning Muay Thai as a warrior art comes from 1560 and describes a single combat between the Thai prince Naresuan (known as the Black Prince) and the successor to the Burmese throne, the son of the king Bayinnuang. The duel lasted several hours and ended with the death of the Burmese crown prince. Without the leader the Burmese decided not to attack Thailand. The reign of the king Pra-Chao Sua at the beginning of the 18th century, who was a very great master of the art himself, was a period of great development of Thai Boxing. It is said that the king, whose nickname was "Tiger", used to leave his palace secretly and attend local tournaments wearing a mask. He was a regular winner. In this period Thai Boxing was taught as a subject in all schools and was a part of military training. At that time fights were very cruel. There were no weight categories or rounds. Fighters were barefoot with their fists wrapped in hemp or cotton bandage. Genital protectors were made of coconut shells. All kinds of kicks and punches were allowed, with few limitations. Among other things training included punching a lemon hitched on a a string for focus, kicking and punching palm trees in order to strengthen feet and fists, long distance running, training in water, etc...

A special diet, mainly vegetarian was an obligation. Some techniques from that period remain unchanged until today and they are known as "king Tiger techniques". After World War II, Thai Boxing was changed a lot. Rule modifications transformed it into an attractive fighting sport, and many practice it a self defense or recreation.

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