The history of Muay
Thai is the history of the Thai people and muay thai camp .
the Burmese army sacked and razed Ayuddhaya to the ground, the archives
of Thai history were lost. With them, much of the early history of Muay
Thai also went.
The little we do know, comes from the writings of the Burmese, Cambodian,
early European visitors and some of the chronicles of the Lanna Kingdom
- Chiangmai. There are many muay thai camps in thailand.
What all sources agree on, is that Muay Thai began as a close combat
battlefield fighting skill. More deadly than the weapons it replaced.
As to where Muay Thai came from, its evolution, the sources aren't clear
and often contradict each other. But there are two main theories.
One says that the art developed as the Thai people moved down from China;
honed in the struggle for land. The other theory says that the Thai
people were already here and that Muay Thai developed to defend the
land and people from constant invasion threats.
The second, while controversial, has considerable academic backing and
archaeological evidence. The first is, however, possible as the area
opened up to the early pioneers.
What is known is that Muay Thai was an essential part of Thai culture
right from its dawn. And in Thailand, it's the sport of kings.
In olden days, national issues were decided by Muay Thai contests.
The first great upsurge of interest in Muay Thai as a sport, as well
as a battlefield skill, was under King Naresuan in 1584, a time known
as the Ayuddhaya period. During this period, every soldier trained in
Muay Thai and could use it, as the King himself did. Slowly Muay Thai
moved away from its root in the 'Chupasart' and new fighting techniques
The change in the art was to continue under another fighting King -
Prachao Sua - the Tiger King. He loved Muay Thai so much that he often
fought incognito in village contests, beating the local champions. During
the reign of the Tiger King the nation was at peace. The King, to keep
the army busy, ordered it to train in Muay Thai. The interest in the
sport was already high but now it took off yet again.
Thai Boxing became the favourite sport and pastime of the people, the
army and the King. Historical sources show that people from all walks
of life flocked to training camps. Rich, poor, young and old all wanted
some of the action. Every village staged its prize fights and had its
champions. Every bout became a betting contest as well as a contest
of local pride. The betting tradition has remained with the sport and
today large sums are wagered on the outcome of fights.
boxing has always been popular but like most sports, there have been
times when it was more in fashion. In the reign of King Rama V, many
Muay Thai matches were Royal Command fights. These boxers were rewarded
with military titles from the King. Today the titles, like Muen Muay
Mee Chue from Chaiya or Muen Muay Man Mudh from Lopburi are virtually
untranslatable. They mean something comparable to Major of Boxing. At
the time they were much prized and respected titles.
The Rama V period was another golden age for Muay Thai. Boxing camps
were set up, talent scouts - at Royal Command - recruited potential
boxers from up country. Match makers began to make the great matches
which were fought for big prizes and honour. This thrilled the people
then as much as the main bouts do today at the Bangkok boxing stadiums.
The matches then were not fought in a ring as we know it today - for
Muay Thai that is a recent innovation. Any available space of the right
size was used, a courtyard, a village clearing.
It wasn't till the reign of King Rama VI that the standard ring surrounded
by ropes came into use, as did time keeping by the clock. Before this
period, time keeping was done by floating a pierced coconut shell on
a boat of water. When the coconut piece sank, a drum signalled the end
of the round.
Muay Thai has always been a sport for the people as well as a military
fighting skill. In all its golden ages, the people have trained and
practiced the sport whether they were King or commoner. It was a part
of the school curriculum right up to the 1920's when it was withdrawn
because it was felt that the injury rate was too high. The people however,
continued to study it in gyms and clubs just as they do today.
For centuries the army fostered Muay Thai. Soldiers have trained and
used the techniques for as long as there has been an army in Thailand.
For the military it has always been the close combat fighting skill,
the martial art of the battlefield. When a Thai soldier fights hand
to hand he uses Muay Thai. But then so does every Thai person, male
or female. Watching it, learning it, copying it is a part of Thai childhood.
It always has been.
The people have always followed the sport and have been instrumental
in moving it from the battlefield to the ring. They have been as much
a part of making it a sport as have the Kings. One of the prime movers
in transforming the sport was the Tiger King, who not only influenced
fighting styles but also the equipment.
During the reign of the Tiger King, the hands and forearms began being
bound with strips of horse hair. This was to serve a dual purpose -
protect the fighter and inflict more damage on the opponent. Later,
these were replaced by hemp ropes or starched strips of cotton. For
particular challenge matches and with the fighters agreement, ground
glass was mixed with glue and spread on the strips.
The changes that the sport has undergone have been changes to equipment
used rather than radical change. For example, Thai fighters have always
worn groin guards. A kick or knee to the groin was a perfectly legal
move up until the 1930's. In the early days, the protection was made
from tree bark or sea shells held in place with a piece of cloth tied
between the legs and around the waist.
groin guard later became a triangular shaped pillow, red or blue, tied
around the waist with a through strap between the legs.
The pillow went, after a boxer on a trip to Malaysia saw a groin box.
He came back with the idea, which is close to the original idea of the
sea shell and since then, Muay Thai fighters have used them.
The 1930's saw the most radical change in the sport. It was then that
it was codified and today's rules and regulations were introduced. Rope
bindings of the arms and hands were abandoned and gloves took their
This innovation was also in response to the growing success of Thai
Boxers in international boxing.
Along with the introduction of gloves, came weight classes based on
the international boxing divisions. These and other innovations - such
as the introduction of five rounds - substantially altered the fighting
techniques that the boxers used causing some of them to disappear.
Before the introduction of weight classes, a fighter could and did fight
all comers regardless of size and weight differences. However, the introduction
of the weight classes meant that the fighters were more evenly matched
and instead of there being one champion, there became one for each weight
Most Muay Thai fighters belong to the lighter weight classes. Seventy
percent of all fighters belong to the fly and bantam weight divisions.
There are welterweight and middleweight fights but they are not seen
that often and the heavier categories seldom fight.
The establishment of stadiums, instead of makeshift rings and courtyards,
began during the reign of Rama VII before the Second World War. During
the war, they gradually disappeared but mushroomed again soon afterwards
- Muay Thai had not lost any of its appeal. The boxers from up-country
once again headed toward fame and fortune in Bangkok.
The glory could be found at stadiums like Rajdamnern and Lumpinee. Later,
they fought in full colour fury on television. Thailand's Channel 7
started broadcasting the fights in colour over 20 years ago. Today all
four Thai television stations broadcast free to millions of Muay Thai
fans throughout Thailand - four nights a week.
The battle art has evolved into a popular sport. Ruled, codified and
now with five three minute rounds, each with a two minute recovery period
old timers around today who fought before the second world war, lament
the changes bought about by the standardisation of the sport. The three
minute round and weight classes has, they say, changed the sport as
they remembered it.
"We had to fight all comers," one recalls. "Had to know
all the tricks of the trade. We used strikes and techniques these fighters
haven't even been taught. We didn't have these breaks and instead fought
'till one of us dropped."
They are also right. Muay Thai has changed across the years. Changed
and evolved from a battlefield close quarters killing ground technique
based on a fighting tradition passed on from generation to generation
up to the present time.
But despite the changes of history, Muay Thai has lost none of its exotic
appeal and even mystique. Muay Thai is still the fighting art to beat.
The fighting art that defeats all challenges from Kung Fu, Karate, Taekwando
and the latest kickboxing fashions. They have all come to Thailand,
not just once but many times and from many places to test themselves.
Muay Thai has lost none of its appeal in Thailand. The television fight
broadcasts rate among the Kingdom's most popular programmes.
In the provinces, villages cluster around any available TV to watch.
In the city, people disappear from the streets while Thailand is watching
Thai Boxing is also becoming increasingly popular outside of Thailand.
It has its enthusiasts and practitioners in the Americas, Australia,
Japan, Europe, as well as in many other countries around the world.
The illustrious history of Muay Thai will continue as it receives greater
recognition and gains in international popularity. If you want know more about muay thai camp , please contact any muay thai camps in thailand for more information .