Muay Thai is a martial art with its origin set deep in the history of Thailand. It is referred to as the ‘Art of the Eight Limbs’ or the ‘Science of Eight Limbs,’ making use of different punches, kicks, elbows and knee strikes on ‘eight points of contact,’ as opposed to ‘two points’ in boxing and ‘four points’ in other martial arts such as kickboxing. A practitioner of the Muay Thai is called a nuk muay, with Western practitioners sometimes called Nak Muay Farang, which means ‘foreign boxer.’


It is said that Muay Thai is derived from the ancient boxing combat technique called Muay borang. However, much of its history was lost in the fires razed by the Burmese army when they burned Ayuddhaya to the ground.


There are two theories that exist about its origin: One, the martial art developed when the Thai people moved down from China, honing their moves in the struggle for land ownership; the other says that the Thai people were already settled in the country, and Muay Thai was developed as a way to protect their land from constant threats of invasion.


The second theory, while controversial, holds a little more ground due to considerable academic backing and archeological evidence. Whatever its real origin is, Muay Thai’s history is an essential part of Thailand’s culture, and in the country, it is considered a sport of kings.


  • King Naresuan Era (1584)


According to Thailand’s history, national issues were resolved through Muay Thai contests. Muay Thai first gained popularity as a sport and a combat skill was under the reign of King Naresuan in 1584 during the Ayuddhaya period. Every soldier during this period was trained in Muay Thai to use in the battlefield, including the king himself. Muay Thai slowly progressed and new fighting techniques evolved.


  • The Tiger King Era (Prachao Sura)


Muay Thai continued to evolve under another fighting king, Prachao Sura, a.k.a. The Tiger King. He was so into it that he often went to villages in disguise to engage in fight contests and beat the local champions. The nation was at peace during his time, so he kept his army busy by having them engage in Muay Thai training. This further boosted the popularity of the martial art in the country.


Muay Thai eventually became the national pastime of the people, including the army and the king. It was so popular that people from all walks of life flocked to training facilities, and every village staged its own fight contest to have their champion. It became a sport where people can also wager, with the tradition still practiced up to this day.


  • King Rama V Era


During the reign of King Rama V, Muay Thai, like most popular sports today, became more in fashion that many matches were Royal Command fights. The fighters were rewarded with military honors by the king.


  • King Rama VI Era


It was in King Rama VI’s era when the standard Muay Thai ring with ropes came into use, so as clocks used for timekeeping during matches. Before, they used a pierced coconut shell on a boat of water to keep track of time. When the shell sank, a drum will signal the end of the round.


  • Modernization


King Rama VII pushed for codified rules for the combat sport, and they were eventually put into place. Referees were then introduced, and fighters began wearing modern gloves during both training and actual matches.


With the huge success of Muay Thai in the mixed martial arts scene, it has now become the default technique for stand-up fighters. Western MMA practitioners have now incorporated this fighting technique for more powerful strikes in the ring. Today, there are millions of practitioners with a huge number of training facilities and organizations scattered around the globe.

Bio: Marie Felipe is an online writer for more than 6 years now promoting the importance of being fit and healthy. She realized it is quite difficult to stay fit especially if you work online and just sits every day. Luckily with a help of a little diet and hours in a Muay Thai gym she stays fit.