Muay Thai History – From the art of war to sports


Muay Thai is one of the oldest and most traditional sports in the world. Lots of information and records have not survived the long history and have been lost in chaos of war and destruction. Muay Thai World has after extensive research, reconstruct the history of Muay Thai.

Muay Thai History: The history of a people

The history of Muay Thai is to a certain extent at the same time the history of the Thai people. Closely related is both even today.

Unfortunately, the long history shows some gaps. When the army of the Burmese destroyed the royal capital of Ayutthaya in 1763, countless information got be permanently lost.

The now still surviving part of the Muay Thai history comes from a variety of sources. Firstly, the transcripts of the Burmese, Cambodians and early European visitors to the country. Secondly, the chronicles of Lana Kingdom – Chiang Mai. In general, the martial art of Muay Thai is said to have a minimum age of 800-1000 years.

Muay Thai – A powerful weapon

Certainly, however, reported that the history of Muay Thai is based on the martial arts of the ancient kingdom of Siam and was in its original form important part of military training. So Thai soldiers were well trained in the art of unarmed combat. Because when a warrior lost his weapon, this also had to be able to make his opponent harmless. Over time, these developed into highly effective techniques, which should be more dangerous and deadly soon as the weapons they actually only replaced.

Muay Thai as a sport – Away from the battlefield

How Muay Thai then definitively established offside of the battlefield, can be reconstruct with certainty only from the rule of King Sua Prachao – also well known as the Tiger King. Since Muay Thai also always been the sport of kings, and thus important cultural part of life in Thailand, the fighting king began to organize the first fights and also to compete itself.

He often went incognito into the villages outside of the city and fought always successful against the local Muay Thai Champions. Because the nation was at this time in peace, the king ordered the army by intensive Muay Thai Traning to keep in shape and intensively to train in this martial art. Interest in Muay Thai was large even before this order, but then gained significantly.

The Thai boxing was gradually the number one sport in Thailand and enjoyed largest popularity from the people, the army and the King himself. People from all society walked in Muay Thai schools and camps in the country to learn the venerable martial arts.

Each village had its own ring and held regular battles with neighboring local heroes. Thus developed, an incredibly large local patriotism and the Village Champions enjoyed great recognition. The long tradition of betting on the outcome of the fight is originated at that time. Today it is more popular than ever and sums largely higher.

The golden age in Muay Thai history

Thai boxing was undoubtedly popular ever since. But during the golden era, the art of Muay Thai especially enjoyed great popularity. Under the reign of King Rama V. Muay Thai fighters were even awarded honorary military titles. On this item rested an equally high prize money as prestige. These days you can receive the translate terms like Muen Muay Mee Chue from Chaiya with Major of boxing. An exact translation is not possible.

So it was King Rama, the first Muay Thai camps instituted and talent scouts sent into the remotest corners of the country to recruit the most promising Muay Thai talents of Thailand. The best eventually fought for big prizes, fame and honor. Even today, more than a few fighters do exactly these men of that time as a model and try to win over the crowd in the best stadiums in Bangkok.

From village squares and coconut shells

Until the introduction of Muay Thai ring we know today by King Rama VI., The Muay Thai fights took place on every imaginable place with the correct size. So this could be for example a backyard or even the village square. The lap times were then determined with much ingenuity. It was provided with a coconut shell and a tank full of water. Due to the hole in the coconut shell, the shell slowly filled with water. If this go down to the ground of the tank, sounded a gong. The introduction of a standardized timing with the clock is also due to King Rama VI.

Muay Thai as school subject

Since Muay Thai was as sport and military martial arts, and dominated the daily life of the entire population, eventually it was decided to anchor Muay Thai as part of the school education. This decision was repealed only in the 1920s, as the injury rate of the students was simply too high. Nevertheless, many people keep holding on to their favorite sport and continued their training in private camps and sports schools. Last but not least, due to the fact that Muay Thai was simply operated from king to simple man by anyone.

The legendary Tiger King

The so-called King Tiger was one of the biggest sponsors of Muay Thai and influenced the sport relevant to today. Thus we find his great influence not only in many techniques again, but also in the Muay Thai equipment.

During the reign of the Tiger King, the hands and forearms of fighters were wrapped with horse hair for the first time. This one did not ultimately solely in order to protect the fighters, but also more damage to the enemy. Later the horse hairs were replaced by hemp ropes or reinforced cotton stiffeners.

For some of the other fights it was with the consent of the fighters also common to mix broken glass with adhesive and incorporate into the bandages. This taught at ernomen damage and was one of the most brutal forms of conflict in Muay Thai.

In addition, a variety of versions of the low protection were introduced. Since up to the 1930s, kicks and knee kicks were perfectly legal under the belt, the fighters bend tree bark and shells to the genitals. Later, these were replaced by triangular shaped pillows.

The 1930s – radical changes in Muay Thai history

In the 1930s, finally, the most radical changes in the sport of Muay Thai took place. Most of these changes are still valid today and have paved the way for the current rules. So were first banished the arm and hand bandages and replaced by today’s standard boxing gloves. This step was also due to the growing success of Thai-boxer on the international parquet.

At the same time was also a division into weight classes take place on the basis of the regulations of the international Boxing Federation.
These and other facts, such as the introduction of five rounds, meant that many of the original techniques were lost. The fighters had to adapt to the new rules and realities their fighting style.

The weight classes

Before the introduction of the new weight classes, it was possible to compete against each fighter. Even size and weight played no role. However, there was thus always only one great champion. This should change. Nowadays, there is a separate champion for each weight class.

Although most of the Muay Thai fighter are fighting in the lower weight classes. It rarely comes to fight in the heavyweight division. Good 70 percent of all Muay Thai fighters belong to the fly and bantam weight divisions.

Places of Fame and Glory – The Muay Thai Stadiums

During the reign of King Rama VII. the fighters began to fight more and more in larger stadiums. Although the number of stages is reduced enormously in the time of the second world war, but immediately afterwards they began to sprout like mushrooms.

It pulled a lot of fighters from rural areas to Bangkok at the legendary stadiums to fight for glory and honor.

The Rajdamnern and Lumpinee stadiums were the best addresses around to satisfy these desires. Today nothing has changed. When finally Thailand’s Channel 7 live started live broadcasts from Muay Thai fights in the whole country, Muay Thai was accessible to everyone and hoisted the fighters to a new level of fame.

The former martial arts turned into a regulated sport. The introduction of the weight classes and five two-minute rounds the sport changed it radically.

No losses of popularity due to the change

But even by the strict rules and the loss of some techniques, Muay Thai did not lose its fascination. In addition the exotic charisma and mystique is still an integral part of Muay Thai. Even today, Muay Thai is the martial art, which the fighters of several other fighting styles want to measure. So come Kung Fu, Karate, and Tae Kwon Do fighters to Thailand, to compete with the ancient martial art.

Even popular in modern times

Even at the present time Muay Thai is the national sport in Thailand. The fights are so popular that they are among the most respected TV transmissions in Thailand.

Not rare, especially in the rural provinces, all villagers meet at one TV to see the spectacular fights. Even in the cities the streets to fight times are deserted.

In addition, Muay Thai is becoming increasingly popular abroad. Meanwhile, there are passionate supporters in the United States, Australia, Japan, Europe and many other countries around the world. In Europe, particularly the Netherlands are known for their excellent fighters.

The fantastic Muay Thai history therefore continues even in modern times and future unbroken. Muay Thai is getting more and more recognition and international popularity. And that’s a good thing. Muay Thai is one of the most fascinating sports all over the world and fulfills like no other, a whole nation with pride.

Also available in: German, Thai


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"MuayThai-World" is your Thaiboxing Magazine with all Information about Muay Thai: Find videos of the best Muay Thai Fights, awesome Muay Thai Documentations and the latest News of Muay Thai beside special Muay Thai Training Tips and an awesome Muay Thai Magazine. The team from Muay Thai World want help to promote the great traditional martial arts of Muay Thai and to raise its profile in the world. We also want to persevere the traditions and values of the sports of a proud nation. To realize this, any help is welcome... Muay Thai World is source number 1 for Muay Thai addicted people!

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