Today its definitive origins are debated by modern scholars, as much of the muay thai history was lost when the Burmese ransacked Ayudhaya, Siam’s capital city in Thailand, during the 14th century.
Most written muya thai history was lost when the Burmese looted the temples and depositories of knowledge held in Ayudhaya, and what volumes were saved are now national treasures that are preserved and protected as documentation for Thai culture and heritage.
high kick muay thai
Muay Thai has progressed significantly over the past 100 years. Due to the noticable national popularity, it began to garner international recognition and exposure. In World War II, after formally being introduced to Muay Thai, foreigners named it “Siam Boxing”, as Thailand was formerly Siam. The French labeled it as “Le Sport Orient” or the fighting style of the orient. Soldiers from Europe and America would watch attentively as the Thai soldiers practiced Muay Thai amongst themselves. They were so impressed with the style of fighting that they asked the Thai soldiers to teach them the fundamentals and traditions of Muay Thai. As it became more popular internationally, the rules began to change so it could be better organized and governed like established sports such as boxing. In the 1920’s, rings were introduced to replace open courtyards, which ultimately planted the roots of modern Muay Thai.
Gloves similar to those used in boxing matches replaced the old horsehide, hemp rope or leather bindings and a hard-cover groin protector was added as extra protection from brutal kicks and knees.
The first formal rules were introduced to the sport of Muay Thai after WW II ended. Fights were divided into 5 rounds with a time limit on each; a clock was used to determine the length of each round instead of a coconut shell with holes sinking in a barrel of water, and major Muay Thai stadiums were erected in large cities thoughout the country (namely Bangkok, Sukothai and Chiang Mai). Bangkok’s Lumpini Stadium is now almost considered the “holy ground” to the masses of Muay Thai fighters, local and foreign. An integrated system of weight-classes, absolute rules and championships was brought to life in the years ahead as the organization of the sport began to resemble boxing.
muay thai ranking system
Unlike boxing in Europe and America, Muay Thai fighters make very little money fighting. Many will take fights every 3-4 weeks, earning 4000-6000 baht ($100), which is barely enough to support themselves, let alone a family if they have one.
Muay Thai fighters train many hours a day and often begin when they are 6-8 years of age. They typically take their first fight when they are 8-10 years old and may accumulate as many as 120-150 (3 times as many as an active boxer) before they reach their mid-twenties. Due to how physically demanding the sport is, and how early the average Thai begins fighting, Muay Thai fighters generally do not have long careers. Muay Thai fighters are known for their tough skin and ability to ignore pain and injuries, which are quite common.
muay thai clinch techniques
The fighters deal with everything from cuts and lacerations to the face and head to broken bones and severe sprains throughout their careers.
Today Muay Thai is becoming very popular on a global scale. It was recently accepted as an Olympic sport, finally gaining it’s deserved recognition. Professional martial artists from all sides of the fighting spectrum agree, Muay Thai is essential to becoming an all-around multifaceted fighter. As new training camps and gyms open around the world, Muay Thai will continue to grow in popularity.