Muay Thai is a highly competitive martial art form which requires great stamina to prepare students to match opponents blow for blow. Muay Thai schools offer structured classes, but it is ultimately up to the student to discipline and condition their body to be both powerful and flexible. Muay Thai classes are available for both kids and adults and are a great way to stay in shape and have fun.
Muay Thai is a descendent of all the unarmed martial art disciplines native to Thailand that, taken together, are known as Muay Boran. It is a combat sport which focuses on strikes and kicks. Muay translates from its original meaning in Sanskrit to mean “to bind together.” Muay Thai training originated as technical use in warfare and has evolved to become a modern sport like many other martial art disciplines.
In an account found in Thai folklore, when the ancient Siamese capital fell, many prisoners were taken to Burma. Among these prisoners were many great kickboxers. During a festival to worship Buddha, the ruler wished to have a competition to match Muay Boran with that of the Burmese Boxing. A prisoner named Nai Khanomtom was chosen for the demonstration.
Before fighting, Khanomtom performed what is known as the Wai Kru Ram Muay. It is a ritual dance performed before Muay Thai fights to traditional sarama or Muay Thai music. It is composed of two parts, the Wai Kru and the Ram Muay. The first is a prayer paying homage to the artist’s instructors, gym, and family, but also pays respect to God and fellow men. The second part is unique to each boxer, and is a fluid demonstration of their skills. Quite literally it translates to “boxing dance.” During this exhibition artists wear mongkols (headbands) and prajioud (armbands) which reflect the artist’s personal history.
Once finished with his Wai Kru Ram Muay, Khanomtom proceeded to defeat every opponent who faced him, eventually earning his freedom, and in some versions of the story the freedom of friends along with wives and riches.
As the sport of Muay Thai developed and warfare became less of an influence, tournaments became common. These tournaments would be held on temple grounds with spectators cheering for their favorite martial artist. These tournaments have become the basis for Muay Thai training and competition now in practice.
There are several different organizations, associations, and federations that current promote Muay Thai including, IFMA – International Federation of Muay Thai Amateur, the United States Muay Thai Association, and the World Muay Thai Federation.
Muay Thai is known as the “Art of Eight Limbs” because it focuses striking with the hands, elbows, knees, and feet as opposed to many full contact sports which limit the points of contact to hands and feet.
Muay Thai techniques have been divided into two groups known as mae mai (major ) and luk mai (minor) techniques. Although the form has become less common in modern venues traditional Muay Thai artists practice what is known as attrition, or exchanging blow for blow.
Muay Thai uses the entire body as a focal point of movement, almost all techniques require the artist to rotate with each strike or block. Punching (chok) is used less in Muay Thai than in many other sports because it leaves the head vulnerable to the opponent. Elbow (ti sok) is a powerful, multifaceted attack and defense technique. If used correctly it can be used as a finishing blow or as a deterrent and distraction. Kicking (te)derives its power from the rotational force of the artist’s hips, and as such has potential to be the most damaging. Artists are trained to connect a kick with their shins because the bones found in a persons foot are much too fragile to deflect the force behind many kicks. Knee (Ti Khao) is also a very powerful attack if it connects correctly. Foot thrust (Thip) literally translated as the “foot jab” it is used primarily for defense and to distance an opponent. The clinch and neck wrestling (chap kho) is where knees and elbows come into play. Fighters are not separated by a third party and therefore must maneuver themselves into more advantageous positions.
Just as there are a variety of attacks, there are also a variety of defensive options which range from avoiding an attack to redirecting the attack. Muay Thai conditions the body to perform with amazing flexibility and strength. The “Wall of Defense” refers to the idea that shoulders, arms, and legs can all be used to block, deflect, redirect, and counterattack any and every offensive move.
Muay Thai is a physically demanding sport, not for the faint of heart. Students condition themselves day in and day out. They repeatedly strike heavy bags with their shins to harden their bones. This is a process known as cortical remodeling. Various mitts and padding are used by Muay Thai instructors to simulate real fight impacts. Because of the rigorous conditioning needed to excel in the sport, most Muay Thai artists either do not become professionals or retire earlier than most other competing martial artists.
As a physically demanding sport, Muay Thai is ideal for those individuals seeking a challenging yet rewarding experience. It will condition a body into one of discipline and strength. It will open the mind to movement and synchronization. Does Muay Thai sound like the perfect match for you or a loved one? Take a few minutes and find Muay Thai classes near you! Begin your journey to greatness!
Muay Thai is a form of stand-up kickboxing that originated in Thailand. It’s a full contact combat sport (the national sport of its country of origin) and a hugely popular form of entertainment in Thailand and across the world. Muay Thai made its transition to the west as a great competitive combat sport after several of its practitioners managed to defeat masters of other martial art forms. Today, however, Muay Thai is equally as popular as a means of fitness and self-defense and is, as such, offered by countless gyms, studios, schools and academies across the country.
Muay Thai training involves the mastery of a great diversity of kicks, punches and clinching holds. The variety of striking techniques used includes, both hand and elbow jabs, hooks, crosses, swings, uppercuts, spinning back fist, hammer fists and corkscrew punches, which attest to the infiltration of western boxing technique into the Muay Thai martial arts. Kicking techniques involve straight kicks, half-shin, half-knee kicks, roundhouse kicks, axe heel kick, jump kick and diagonal kicks, amongst others.
Combat Muay Thai is known as the “Art of Eight Limbs” because it uses the hands, elbows, knees and feet of both the right and left hand side of the body to engage in combat.
Combat Muay Thai uniforms typically consist of shorts and nothing at all on top, or a training bra for women. Protective gear is required for the groin and the hands are gloved. All other training equipment, such as punching bags and general gym equipment is typically provided by Muay Thai training schools. Much is learned in action or in practice against an opponent or instructor.
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