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Everything You Want to Know about Muay Thai Boxing

From Jon, published on 09/02/2018 Blog > Sport > Boxing > What is Thai Boxing About?

“What a boxer does best is box”

– Rocky in Rocky Balboa

Let the truth ring! It’s clear and simple: boxing has many benefits, including to let off steam and feel energized both mentally and physically…

Western boxing is by far the best known kind of boxing on the planet, and French boxing, AKA savate, attracts many French enthusiasts from around the world with the prestigious French Boxing Federation. However, as they say, three is a charm.

Yes, let’s not forget about the great third boxing technique: Thai boxing.

As the name suggests, it hails directly from Southeast Asia countries, renowned all over for their terrible monsoons.

It is particularly popular with boxers who are looking for a change of scenery, and with those who do not wish to be like everyone else. Those who try it are usually boxers wishing to learn how to fight in a totally different way, without limiting themselves to the rules of the English and French boxing styles.

You will soon understand why…

The Origins of Thai Boxing

I bet you didn’t believe that Western boxing had any sort of background of history dating to centuries before? Well, of course it does, like everything else! And muay-thai does too.

It was in the 16th century that muay-thai became codified and was modernized,  becoming closer to the modern version of boxing we have today.

The name muay-thai, which is close to the thai name as you can image, is very authentic, and the oldest name out there. The name also testifies to this type of boxing’s affiliation with muay-boran. Asian-sounding names such as these flourish in Bangkok!

The sagacious minds will have guessed that martial arts are a big thing in these countries. In fact, when we Westerners see feet and fists boxing, we almost always think of what the Orientals still speak of as martial arts.

Thailand is a great nation with many local customs, and in its native country Thai boxing has been subdivided  into several “styles”, that is to say variants, which start with the prefix “muay” and with added endings such as “thasao” in the north, “lopburi” in the center, “korat” to the east, and “chaiya” in the south.

Muay-thai fighters in a boxing match Physical preparation | After the warm-up, let’s partake in some thai boxing! | source: upload.wikimedia.org

Each one focuses on particular techniques, but it is Thai boxing is considered the national sport. The government and the army have a great love for this sport. It has been a part of the training for local soldiers for the last five centuries.

In addition to being the country’s capital, Bangkok is undeniably the world capital of Thai boxing.

Before the Western world introduced the use of boxing gloves into Thai boxing, traditional Thai boxers had horsehair gloves coated with cotton.

Tourism in Thailand prompted many Europeans to take a close look at muay-thai kickboxing, which became a direct competitor with different combat methods. In France and the UK, local champions started popping up all over and many gyms offers training classes with an instructor, alternatively you can also join a boxing gym. Boxing is a great way to train and improve your fitness levels and get in shape. Grab your trainers and pads and you’re ready!

The Netherlands is undoubtedly Europe’s most successful muay-thai country, as evidenced by the breakthroughs of Dutch boxing champions such as Fred Royers, Rob Kaman, Ernesto Hoost, Ramon Dekkers and Peter Aerts…

Kickboxing, which has become more and more well-known around the world, is actually a Japanese variant of muay-thai, but with some added inspiration from karate, one of the “true martial arts.”

So, what do you think you would prefer – French boxing, Thai boxing, or American boxing?

The Fundamentals of Thai Boxing Techniques

If you are a newbie to boxing, Thai boxing may seem to you to be the most complete kind of boxing, insofar as one can use fists, feet, elbows, shins, and knees. Consequently, one should move around, in fact it is encouraged.

It is the roundhouse kick that is the Thai fighter’s iconic kick.

There is very much flexibility involved in the sport – which has lured some Europeans, who are enamored with flexibility at the moment.

In Europe, Thai boxing has gained much more popularity than other Southeast Asian combat sports, where Burma boxing, Vietnamese boxing, Khmer boxing (Cambodia), and Laotian boxing are thriving.

In fact, it was Thai boxing which was first professionalised (with thirteen weight categories). Nowadays it has become a very popular sport and has been completely codified. This has of course happened with the help of television, advertising, and the flowing money in the city of Bangkok. If you are to partake in Thai boxing, it is essential for you to have the minimum in terms of boxing equipment/boxing material. For men, you should absolutely invest in a boxing groin guard.

Thai boxing shorts are of course needed to, and you may want to buy guards for the anklets, too. On the other hand, one must fight without a top on and without shoes.

 

Preparing for a thai boxing fight The preparation of a Thai boxing fight.

In view of its origins, Thai boxing has retained its pagan and animist side with local Thai fighters, as evidenced by the ram-muay – or wai-khru – a dance which is performed by challengers before the fight in order to invoke the protection of certain deities.

This preparatory dance is essential to learn for native professionals.

But even if you are no native of Thailand, you may want to take a look at it and see if you cannot learn it yourself!

Have you heard about the new fashionable martial art of shadowboxing?

Some Rules of Muay Thai Boxing

Local jokesters like to describe Thai boxing with the following sarcastic saying: “everything goes.” But this is obviously an oversimplification of the sport…

To be more specific, punches, kicks, elbows, and shins are allowed.

This list greatly differentiates muay-thai from the Savate French boxing. In Thai boxing, we encounter a much more varied approach to kicking, with kicks that range from high to low, easy to difficult – in short, the ideal type of fighting for a person who would like to know how to defend himself anywhere in the world and in any situation. As you can imagine, aggressors in a city center rarely wear boxing gloves, nor do they respect the Marquis of Queensberry’s sixteen rules of French boxing, for example…

In addition, professional Thai boxing stands out from amateur boxing.

In the first half, the match include five rounds of three minutes each, which requires a quarter of an hour of effective combat, all punctuated by traditional musical pieces. The recovery time lasts around 1m30 or 2 minutes, depending on the federations.

The thai boxing technique is governed by many rules Thai boxing is not about free-fighting. | This art is codified by many rules, and self-control plays an important role in the matches | source: visualhunt.com

Formerly, Thai boxers had to knock out their opponents or compel them to give up. This was extremely violent, especially since fighters could decide to wear pieces of glass on the bandages around their hands, just to be able to carry out more destructive blows…

The deadly potential of this discipline became the reason why it was totally banned in 1921. This ended up being a very good thing, as it reappeared in 1930 with more human contemporary rules.

The rules were standard: the wearing of boxing gloves, a ring (with at least three rows of ropes, and the measurements of five by seven meters), sleeves to protect the arms and the disallowing of shots to the groin. After Thai boxing was re-established, things were more conform to respecting the boxers in the spirit of the times.

The rules also imply that one cannot use the ropes in a damaging way to the player, biting is prohibited, spitting, too, the pulling of hair, or hitting a boxer on the ground and placing your fingers in his eyes. 

Judges score according to technique, agility, defense, and combativeness. There is a variant called “light-contact” which is borrowed from Savate.

What are the differences between Thai Boxing and French Boxing Savate?

Are There Champions of Thai Boxing?

Because of how ancient it is, Thai boxing has a large number of champions, with different expertise and levels.

You may be surprised to hear that many of the champions of muay-thai have been kings. This is the case of the robust King Pra Chao Sua, proudly named the “Tiger” by his subjects.

However, it is true that in the eighteenth century, Thai boxing was to Thais what bullfighting was to the Spaniards! All the villages went to watch the games and had their favorite champions to cheer on from the other side of the “ring”!

Naresuan, a prominent Thai monarch, made this combat sport very popular at the very end of the 16th century.

There are lots of resources available to learn the different boxing techniques Contact sports | Your sports club trainer may suggest some boxing resources if you are attempting to learn more about the sport of Thai boxing.

Some people say the story is just a legend, but it is told that the national hero named Nai Khanom Tom, a soldier captured in 1767 by Burmese enemies, knocked out ten in a row thanks to his very good Thai boxing skills!

More recently, there have been many great Thai boxers, including Apidej Sit Hrun (95 wins for 102 games), Patrick Brizon (first European champion of Thai boxing in 1979), Yamoun Saydali (162 wins out of 177 games), Samarth Payakaroon (celebrated for his extremely high kick), Orlando Wiet (world champion five times in a row), Dany Bill (a Frenchman with seven world titles), Dida Diafat (also from France… but bearing eleven titles!), as well as the local Buakaw Banchamek, and Anuwat Kaewsamerit.

Before you go, check out these amazing ten facts about muay-thai:

1) Muay Thai originated in Thailand during the Medieval period as a form of hand-to-hand combat in times of war.

2) Muay Thai consists of eight weapons: elbows, fists (strikes), knees, and legs (kicks).

3) Muay Thai has been the fastest growing martial art in the world for the last 80 years.

4) Muay Thai is over 2,000 years old.

5) Gear for Muay Thai training includes padded gloves, hand wraps, and shin guards.

6) Hand wraps are used in Muay Thay to stabilize your wrists and protect your knuckles.

7) Muay Thai training is an excellent cardio workout and it’s great for toning arms and shoulders.

10) Muay Thai’s technique is taken from the more lethal art of Muay Boran, which has fewer rules and uses the head as a weapon.

So, grab your boxing gloves and discover thai boxing with the help of a boxing tutor specialized in this sport

By the way, have you ever heard of Chinese boxing? Find out which combat sports are coming from the country here.

Take a look at how Shadow Boxing Drills can change your entire workout.

Finally, discover the full-contact American Boxing.

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