Muay Thai

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Muay Thai
Muay Thai Fight Us Vs Burma (80668065).jpeg
Focus Punching, Striking
Country of originThailand
Famous practitioners List of Muay Thai practitioners
Parenthood Muay Boran, Krabi krabong
First playedThailand, mid-18th century.
ContactFull contact
Mixed gender No
TypeMartial art
Country or regionWorldwide
Olympic No, but IOC recognized
World Games 2017

Muay Thai (Thai : มวยไทย, RTGS: muai thai, pronounced [mūa̯j tʰāj] ( Loudspeaker.svg listen )), sometimes referred to as "Thai boxing", is a martial art and combat sport that uses stand-up striking along with various clinching techniques. [1] [2] [3] [4] [5] This discipline is known as the "art of eight limbs" as it is characterized by the combined use of fists, elbows, knees and shins. [6] Muay Thai became widespread internationally in the late-20th to 21st century, when Westernized practitioners from Thailand began competing in kickboxing and mixed-rules matches as well as matches under Muay Thai rules around the world. The professional league is governed by The Professional Boxing Association of Thailand (P.A.T), sanctioned by The Sports Authority of Thailand (SAT).


Muay Thai is related to other martial art styles of the Indian cultural sphere such as Musti-yuddha, Muay Chaiya, Muay boran, Muay Lao, Lethwei, Pradal Serey and Tomoi. [7] [8] Muay Thai developed from the traditional Muay Boran. [9] [10] A practitioner of Muay Thai is known as a nak muay. Western practitioners in Thailand are sometimes called nak muay farang , meaning 'foreign boxer'. [11]


Local school children in Thailand demonstrate muay Thai USMC-110215-M-2739S-005.jpg
Local school children in Thailand demonstrate muay Thai

The history of Muay Thai can be traced at least to the 16th century Siam kingdom as a peace-time martial art practiced by the soldiers of King Naresuan. An exhibition of Muay Thai was observed and reported by Simon de la Loubère, a French diplomat who was sent by King Louis XIV to the Kingdom of Siam in 1687, in his famous work "Du Royaume de Siam" (1688). During battles between the Burmese of the Konbaung Dynasty and the Ayutthaya Kingdom Burmese–Siamese War (1765–1767) [12] Muay boran, and therefore muay Thai, was originally called by more generic names such as toi muay or simply muay. As well as being a practical fighting technique for use in actual warfare, muay became a sport in which the opponents fought in front of spectators who went to watch for entertainment. These muay contests gradually became an integral part of local festivals and celebrations, especially those held at temples. Eventually, the previously bare-fisted fighters started wearing lengths of hemp rope around their hands and forearms. This type of match was called muay khat chueak (มวยคาดเชือก).

19th century

Muay Boran during the reign of King Chulalongkorn hmuuenmwymiichuue`.jpg
Muay Boran during the reign of King Chulalongkorn

The ascension of King Chulalongkorn (Rama V) to the throne in 1868 ushered in a golden age not only for muay but for the whole country of Thailand. Muay progressed greatly during the reign of Rama V as a direct result of the king's personal interest in the sport. The country was at peace and muay functioned as a means of physical exercise, self-defense, attacking, recreation, and personal advancement. [13]

The modern era

1909-1910: King Chulalongkorn formalized muay boran ('ancient boxing') by awarding (in 1910) three muen to victors at the funeral fights for his son (in 1909). The region style: Lopburi, Korat, and Chaiya. [13]

1913: British boxing was introduced into the curriculum of the Suan Kulap College. The first descriptive use of the term "muay Thai".

1919: British boxing and muay taught as one sport in the curriculum of the Suan Kulap College. Judo was also offered.

1921: First permanent ring in Siam at Suan Kulap College. Used for both muay and British boxing.

1923: Suan Sanuk Stadium. First international style three-rope ring with red and blue padded corners, near Lumpinee Park. Muay and British boxing. [14]

King Rama VII (r. 1925–1935) pushed for codified rules for muay, and they were put into place. Thailand's first boxing ring was built in 1921 at Suan Kulap. Referees were introduced and rounds were now timed by kick. Fighters at the Lumpinee Boxing Stadium began wearing modern gloves, as well as hard groin protectors, during training and in boxing matches against foreigners. Traditional rope-binding (khat chueak) made the hands a hardened, dangerous striking tool. The use of knots in the rope over the knuckles made the strikes more abrasive and damaging for the opponent while protecting the hands of the fighter. [15] This rope-binding was still used in fights between Thais but after the occurrence of a death in the ring, it was decided that fighters should wear gloves and cotton coverlets over the feet and ankles. It was also around this time that the term "muay Thai" became commonly used, while the older form of the style came to be known as "muay boran", which is now performed primarily as an exhibition art form.

A muay boran demonstration, Lumpinee Boxing Stadium, Bangkok Bangkok Lumpinee Boxing Stadium 2.jpg
A muay boran demonstration, Lumpinee Boxing Stadium, Bangkok

Muay Thai was at the height of its popularity in the 1980s and 1990s. Top fighters commanded purses of up to 200,000 baht and the stadia where gambling was legal drew big gates and big advertising revenues. As of 2016, a payout to a superstar fighter was about 100,000 baht per fight, [16] but can range as high as 540,000 baht for a bout. [17]

In 1993, the International Federation of Muaythai Amateur, or IFMA was inaugurated. It became the governing body of amateur muay Thai consisting of 128 member countries worldwide and is recognized by the Olympic Council of Asia.

In 1995, the World Muaythai Council, the oldest and largest professional sanctioning organizations of muay Thai, was established by the Thai government and sanctioned by the Sports Authority of Thailand.

In 1995, the World Muay Thai Federation was founded via the merger of two existing organizations, and established in Bangkok becoming the federation governing international muay Thai. As of August 2012, it had over 70 member countries. Its president is elected at the World Muay Thai Congress.

In 2006, muay Thai was included in SportAccord with IFMA. One of the requirements of SportAccord was that no sport can have a name of a country in its name. As a result, an amendment was made in the IFMA constitution to change the name of the sport from "muay Thai" to "Muaythai"—written as one word in accordance with Olympic requirements.

Thai Fight in 2012 THAI FIGHT 2.jpg
Thai Fight in 2012

In 2014 muay Thai was included in the International World Games Association (IWGA) and will be represented in the official programme of The World Games 2017 in Wrocław, Poland.

In January 2015, muay Thai was granted the patronage of the International University Sports Federation (FISU) and from 16 to 23 March 2015 the first University World Muaythai Cup was held in Bangkok.

As of 2020 there are more than 3,800 Thai boxing gyms overseas. [18]


Timeline of International Federation of Muaythai Associations (IFMA) to the International Olympic Committee (IOC) recognition: [19]

1992 - Founded the International Federation of Muaythai Associations (IFMA)

2012 - Launched official request for the International Olympic Committee (IOC) recognition

2016 - Received first endorsement

2017 - Muaythai is included in the World Games.

2021 - On June 10, the IOC Board of Directors agreed on the full endorsement of IFMA at the 138th IOC General Assembly in Tokyo.

2021 - On July 20, the IOC General Assembly granted full recognition to the International Federation of Muaythai Associations (IFMA) and Muaythai.

Traditional wear

Fighters wearing mongkhon and pra jiad Wat Thai Village DC 2013 (9343057612).jpg
Fighters wearing mongkhon and pra jiad

The mongkhon , or mongkol ('headband') and pra jiad ('armbands') are often worn into the ring before the match begins. They originated when Siam was in a constant state of war. Young men would tear off pieces of a loved one's clothing (often a mother's sarong) and wear it in battle for good luck as well as to ward off harmful spirits. In modern times the mongkol (lit. 'holy spirit', 'luck', 'protection') is worn as a tribute to the fighter's gym. The mongkol is traditionally presented by a trainer to the fighter when he judges that the fighter is ready to represent the gym in the ring. Often, after the fighter has finished the wai kru , the trainer will take the mongkol off his head and place it in his corner of the ring for luck. They were also used for protection. Whether the fighter is a Buddhist or not, it is common for them to bring the mongkol to a Buddhist monk who blesses it for good luck prior to stepping into the ring.


Formal muay Thai techniques are divided into two groups: mae mai (แม่ไม้), or 'major techniques', and luk mai (ลูกไม้), or 'minor techniques'. Muay Thai is often a fighting art of attrition, where opponents exchange blows with one another. [20] This is certainly the case with traditional stylists in Thailand, but is a less popular form of fighting in the contemporary world fighting circuit where the Thai style of exchanging blow for blow is no longer favorable. Almost all techniques in muay Thai use the entire body movement, rotating the hip with each kick, punch, elbow and block.

Punching (Chok)

Muay Thai match, Bangkok Muay Thai match in Bangkok, Thailand.jpg
Muay Thai match, Bangkok
EnglishThai Romanization IPA
Jab หมัดหน้า/หมัดแย็บMat na/Mat yaep [màt nâ]
Cross/StraightหมัดตรงMat trong [màt troŋ]
Hook/Swing หมัดเหวี่ยงสั้นMat tawad/mat wiang san [màt wìəŋ sân]
Overhand/Haymakerหมัดเหวี่ยงยาวMat khork/mat wiang yao [màt wìəŋ jaːw]
Backfist/Spinning Backfistหมัดเหวี่ยงกลับMat wiang klap/Mat clap lang/Kwang jag narai [màt wìəŋ klàp]
Uppercut หมัดเสย/หมัดสอยดาวMat soei/Mat ngat [màt sɤ̌j] , [màt sɔ̌j daːw]
Superman punch กระโดดชกKradot chok [kradòːt tɕʰók]

The punch techniques in muay Thai were originally quite limited, being crosses and a long (or lazy) circular strike made with a straight (but not locked) arm and landing with the heel of the palm. Cross-fertilization with Western boxing and Western martial arts mean the full range of western boxing punches are now used: lead jab, straight/cross, hook, uppercut, shovel and corkscrew punches and overhands as well as hammer fists and back fists.

As a tactic, body punching is used less in muay Thai than most other striking combat sports to avoid exposing the attacker's head to counter strikes from knees or elbows. To utilize the range of targeting points, in keeping with the center line theory, the fighter can use either the Western or Thai stance which allows for either long range or short range attacks to be undertaken effectively without compromising guard.

Elbow (Sok)

Elbow (Sok) training Muay.Thai.Training 2.jpg
Elbow (Sok) training

The elbow can be used in several ways as a striking weapon: horizontal, diagonal-upwards, diagonal-downwards, uppercut, downward, backward-spinning and flying. From the side, it can be used as either a finishing move or as a way to cut the opponent's eyebrow so that blood might block his vision. The diagonal elbows are faster than the other forms but are less powerful. The elbow strike is considered the most dangerous form of attack in the sport.

EnglishThai Romanization IPA
Elbow Slashศอกตี (ศอกสับ)Sok ti [sɔ̀ːk tiː]
Horizontal ElbowศอกตัดSok tat [sɔ̀ːk tàt]
Uppercut ElbowศอกงัดSok ngat [sɔ̀ːk ŋát]
Forward Elbow Thrustศอกพุ่งSok phung [sɔ̀ːk pʰûŋ]
Reverse Horizontal Elbowศอกเหวี่ยงกลับ (ศอกกระทุ้ง)Sok wiang klap [sɔ̀ːk wìəŋ klàp]
Spinning ElbowศอกกลับSok klap [sɔ̀ːk klàp]
Double Elbow Chopศอกกลับคู่Sok klap khu [sɔ̀ːk klàp kʰûː]
Mid-Air Elbow Strike/Jump elbow chopกระโดดศอกKradot sok [kradòːt sɔ̀ːk]
Horizontal Elbow (Sok tat) ThaI Boxing.jpg
Horizontal Elbow (Sok tat)

There is a distinct difference between a single elbow and a follow-up elbow. The single elbow is a move independent from any other, whereas a follow-up elbow is the second strike from the same arm, being a hook or straight punch first with an elbow follow-up. Such elbows, and most other elbow strikes, are used when the distance between fighters becomes too small and there is too little space to throw a hook at the opponent's head.

Elbows can be used to great effect as blocks or defenses against, for example, spring knees, side body knees, body kicks or punches. When well connected, an elbow strike can cause serious damage to the opponent, including cuts or even a knockout.

Kicking (Te)

Muay Thai boxer delivering a kick in Max Muay Thai Fight Max Muay Thai Fight.jpg
Muay Thai boxer delivering a kick in Max Muay Thai Fight
EnglishThai Romanization IPA
Straight KickเตะตรงTe trong [tèʔ troŋ]
Roundhouse Kick เตะตัดTe tat [tèʔ tàt]
Diagonal Kick เตะเฉียงTe chiang [tèʔ tɕʰǐəŋ]
Half-Shin, Half-Knee Kickเตะครึ่งแข้งครึ่งเข่าTe khrueng khaeng khrueng khao [tèʔ kʰrɯ̂ŋ kʰɛ̂ŋ kʰrɯ̂ŋ kʰàw]
Reverse Roundhouse Kick เตะกลับหลังTe klap lang/Jorakhe faad hang [tèʔ klàp lǎŋ]
Down Roundhouse KickเตะกดTe kot [tèʔ kòt]
Axe Heel Kickเตะเข่าTe khao [tèʔ kʰàw]
Jump Kick กระโดดเตะKradot te [kradòːt tèʔ]
Step-Up KickเขยิบเตะKhayoep te/yiep te [kʰa.jɤ̀p tèʔ]
Kicking (Te) Women muay thai.jpg
Kicking (Te)

The two most common kicks [21] in muay Thai are known as the thip (literally "foot jab") and the te chiang (kicking upwards in the shape of a triangle cutting under the arm and ribs), or roundhouse kick. The Thai roundhouse kick uses a rotational movement of the entire body and has been widely adopted by practitioners of other combat sports. It is done from a circular stance with the back leg just a little ways back (roughly shoulder width apart) in comparison to instinctive upper body fighting (boxing) where the legs must create a wider base. The roundhouse kick draws its power almost entirely from the rotational movement of the hips, counter-rotation of the shoulders and arms are also often used to add torque to the lower body and increase the power of the kick as well. [22]

If a roundhouse kick is attempted by the opponent, the Thai boxer will normally check the kick, that is, he will block the kick with the outside of his lower leg. Thai boxers are trained to always connect with the shin. The foot contains many fine bones and is much weaker. A fighter may end up hurting himself if he tries to strike with his foot or instep. Shins are trained by repeatedly striking firm objects, such as pads or heavy bags.

Knee (Ti Khao) [23]

Knee (Ti Khao) training Muay thai knee clinch 2.jpg
Knee (Ti Khao) training
EnglishThai Romanization IPA
Straight Knee Strike เข่าตรงKhao trong [kʰàw troŋ]
Diagonal Knee Strikeเข่าเฉียงKhao chiang [kʰàw tɕʰǐəŋ]
Curving Knee Strike เข่าโค้งKhao khong [kʰàw kʰóːŋ]
Horizontal Knee Strikeเข่าตัดKhao tat [kʰàw tàt]
Knee Slapเข่าตบKhao ti/khao top [kʰàw tòp]
Knee Bombเข่ายาวKhao yao [kʰàw jaːw]
Flying Knee เข่าลอยKhao loi [kʰàw lɔːj]
Step-Up Knee Strikeเข่าเหยียบKhao yiap [kʰàw jìəp]

Foot-thrust (Teep)

One fighter executes a Muay Thai Foot-thrust (Thip) kick against her opponent in a women's Muay Thai match. Womens Muay Thai teep.jpg
One fighter executes a Muay Thai Foot-thrust (Thip) kick against her opponent in a women's Muay Thai match.

The foot-thrust, or literally, "foot jab", is one of the techniques in muay Thai. It is mainly used as a defensive technique to control distance or block attacks. Foot-thrusts should be thrown quickly but with enough force to knock an opponent off balance.

EnglishThai Romanization IPA
Straight Foot-Thrust ถีบตรงThip trong [tʰìːp troŋ]
Sideways Foot-Thrustถีบข้างThip khang [tʰìːp kʰâːŋ]
Reverse Foot-ThrustถีบกลับหลังThip klap lang [tʰìːp klàp lǎŋ]
Slapping Foot-ThrustถีบตบThip top [tʰìːp tòp]
Jumping Foot-ThrustกระโดดถีบKradot thip [kradòːt tʰìːp]

Clinch and neck wrestling (Chap kho)

Ram Muay, rituals before the match Manachai yokkao.jpg
Ram Muay, rituals before the match

In Western boxing, the two fighters are separated when they clinch; in muay Thai, however, they are not. It is often in the clinch where knee and elbow techniques are used. To strike and bind the opponent for both offensive and defensive purposes, small amounts of stand-up grappling are used in the clinch. The front clinch should be performed with the palm of one hand on the back of the other. There are three reasons why the fingers must not be intertwined. 1) In the ring fighters are wearing boxing gloves and cannot intertwine their fingers. 2) The Thai front clinch involves pressing the head of the opponent downwards, which is easier if the hands are locked behind the back of the head instead of behind the neck. Furthermore, the arms should be putting as much pressure on the neck as possible. 3) A fighter may incur an injury to one or more fingers if they are intertwined, and it becomes more difficult to release the grip in order to quickly elbow the opponent's head.

A correct clinch also involves the fighter's forearms pressing against the opponent's collar bone while the hands are around the opponent's head rather than the opponent's neck. The general way to get out of a clinch is to push the opponent's head backward or elbow them, as the clinch requires both participants to be very close to one another. Additionally, the non-dominant clincher can try to "swim" their arm underneath and inside the opponent's clinch, establishing the previously non-dominant clincher as the dominant clincher.

Muay Thai has several other variants of the clinch or chap kho [tɕàp kʰɔː] , including:

Defense against attacks

Praying before the match Muay Thai boxer.jpg
Praying before the match

Defenses in muay Thai are categorized in six groups:

Defenses in practice

Defensively, the concept of "wall of defense" is used, in which shoulders, arms and legs are used to hinder the attacker from successfully executing techniques. Blocking is a critical element in muay Thai and compounds the level of conditioning a successful practitioner must possess. Low and mid body roundhouse kicks are normally blocked with the upper portion of a raised shin (this block is known as a 'check'). High body strikes are blocked ideally with the forearms and shoulder together, or if enough time is allowed for a parry, the glove (elusively), elbow, or shin will be used. Midsection roundhouse kicks can also be caught/trapped, allowing for a sweep or counter-attack to the remaining leg of the opponent. Punches are blocked with an ordinary boxing guard and techniques similar, if not identical, to basic boxing technique. A common means of blocking a punch is using the hand on the same side as the oncoming punch. For example, if an orthodox fighter throws a jab (being the left hand), the defender will make a slight tap to redirect the punch's angle with the right hand. The deflection is always as small and precise as possible to avoid unnecessary energy expenditure and return the hand to the guard as quickly as possible. Hooks are often blocked with a motion sometimes described as "combing the hair", that is, raising the elbow forward and effectively shielding the head with the forearm, flexed biceps and shoulder. More advanced muay Thai blocks are usually in the form of counter-strikes, using the opponent's weight (as they strike) to amplify the damage that the countering opponent can deliver. This requires impeccable timing and thus can generally only be learned by many repetitions.

Child boxers

In Thailand, children often start practicing Muay Thai and perform in the ring from the age of 5. Children Muay Thai.jpg
In Thailand, children often start practicing Muay Thai and perform in the ring from the age of 5.

In 2016, 9,998 children under the age of 15 were registered with Board of Boxing under the Sport Authority of Thailand, according to the Child Safety Promotion and Injury Prevention Research Centre (CSIP). [24] Four hundred twenty young boxers registered with the board annually, between 2007 and 2015. [24] Some estimates put the number of child boxers nationwide at between 200,000 and 300,000, some as young as four years old. [25]

The Advanced Diagnostic Imaging Centre (AIMC) at Ramathibodi Hospital studied 300 child boxers aged under 15 with two to more than five years of experience, as well as 200 children who do not box. The findings show that child boxers not only sustain brain injuries, they also have a lower IQ, about 10 points lower than average levels. Moreover, IQ levels correlate with the length of their training. [25] [26] Beyond brain damage, the death of young fighters in the ring sometimes occurs. [27]

Child boxer Thai Boxer.jpg
Child boxer

Adisak Plitapolkarnpim, director of CSIP, [28] was indirectly quoted (in 2016) as having said that muay Thai practitioners "younger than 15 years old are being urged to avoid 'head contact' to reduce the risk of brain injuries, while children aged under nine should be banned from the combat fight"; furthermore the Boxing Act's minimum age to compete professionally, was largely being flouted; furthermore, indirectly quoted: "Boxers aged between 13 and 15" should still be permitted to compete, but "with light contact to the head and face"; [24] He said that "Spectators and a change in the boxing rules can play a vital role in preventing child boxers from suffering brain injuries, abnormality in brain structure, Parkinson's disease and early-onset Alzheimer's later in life...Children aged between nine and 15 can take part in [Thai] boxing, but direct head contact must not be allowed". Referring to Findings [of 2014] on the Worst Forms of Child Labour as published by the US Department of Labor's Bureau of International Labor Affairs, he said that, "We know Muay Thai paid fighters have been exploited in the past like child labourers and the matter still remains a serious concern". [24]

At the 13th World Conference on Injury Prevention and Safety Promotion in 2018, it was revealed that up to three percent of the upcoming generation will grow up with learning disabilities unless an amendment is ratified that bans children under 12 from participating in boxing matches. International pediatricians have called on lawmakers in Thailand to help. [29]


Muay Thai is a combat sport that utilizes eight different parts of the body (fists, elbows, knees, and shins); therefore, injuries are quite common in all levels of muay Thai. An injury is considered reportable if it requires the athlete to rest for more than one day. Many injuries in the sport of muay Thai go unreported as the fighters may not notice the injuries at first, refuse to admit that they need treatment, have a heightened pain threshold, fear that their instructor will perceive the injury negatively, or have confusion as to what is an injury. [30] Similar to most sports, injury rates tend to be higher in beginners rather than amateurs and professionals. Soft tissue injuries are the most common form of injury in muay Thai, comprising between 80–90% of all injuries. These injuries are caused by repeated trauma to soft parts of the body. During matches there is little to no padding, leaving soft tissue vulnerable to strikes. The second most common injuries among beginner and amateur muay Thai fighters are sprains and strains. It appears that these injuries can be easily avoided or reduced. Many participants of a study admitted to inadequate warm up before the event of the injury. [30] The third most common injuries are fractures. Fractures are more commonly seen with amateur and professional fighters, because they are allowed full contact, while beginners are allowed no contact. The most common sites for fractures are the nose, carpal bones, metacarpals, digits, and ribs. The distribution of injuries differs significantly for beginners, amateurs and professionals, because as a fighter progresses through the different levels, the forces involved grow progressively higher, less padding and protective equipment is used, and athletes are likely to train harder, resulting in more serious injuries among experienced fighters.


Thai boxer during a fight on Koh Samui Koh Samui Lamai Thai Box SW 11.jpg
Thai boxer during a fight on Koh Samui

According to a Bangkok Post columnist, "...Thai professional boxing is all about gambling and big money. Gambling on muay Thai boxing is estimated to worth about 40 billion baht a year....all the talk about the promotion of Thai martial arts is just baloney." [18] Rob Cox, the manager of a boxing camp just east of Bangkok claims that, "Without the gamblers, the sport would pretty much be dead. They're killing it off, but they’re also keeping it alive." [16]

The practice of fixing fights is not unknown. Boxers can earn from 60,000 to 150,000 baht for purposefully losing a fight. A fighter, later arrested, who threw a fight at Rajadamnern Stadium in December 2019 is only the most recent example. [31] An infamous alleged case of match-fixing was the bout on 12 October 2014 in Pattaya between top Thai boxer Buakaw Banchamek and his challenger, Enriko Kehl, at the K-1 World Max Final event. [18]


An urban legend started being told by Thai people in 1767 around the time of the fall of the ancient Siamese capital of Ayutthaya, when the invading Burmese troops rounded up thousands of Siamese citizens. They then organized a seven-day, seven-night religious festival in honor of Buddha's relics. The festivities included many forms of entertainment, such as costume plays, comedies and sword fighting matches. According to the folklore story, at one point, King Mangra wanted to see how Thai fighters would compare to his fighters. Nai Khanomtom was selected to fight against the King's chosen champion and the boxing ring was set up in front of the throne. When the fight began, Nai Khanomtom charged out, using punches, kicks, elbows and knees to pummel his opponent until he collapsed. The King supposedly asked if Nai Khanomtom would fight nine other Burmese champions to prove himself. He agreed and fought one after the other with no rest periods. His last opponent was a great kickboxing teacher from Rakhine State whom Nai Khanomtom defeated with kicks. [32]

Every year on March 17th, Thailand celebrate the Nai Khanom Tom day. ngaanramlueknaaykhnmtm 2560.jpg
Every year on March 17th, Thailand celebrate the Nai Khanom Tom day.

King Mangra was so impressed that he allegedly remarked that "[e]very part of the Siamese is blessed with venom. Even with his bare hands, he can fell nine or ten opponents. But his Lord was incompetent and lost the country to the enemy. If he had been any good, there was no way the City of Ayutthaya would ever have fallen." [33]

To commemorate the story of Nai Khanom Tom, the Muay Thai Festival and Wai Khru Muay Thai Ceremony are staged annually every year on March 17. [34]


Like most full contact fighting sports, Muay Thai has a heavy focus on body conditioning. [35] Training regimens include many staples of combat sport conditioning such as running, shadowboxing, rope jumping, body weight resistance exercises, medicine ball exercises, abdominal exercises, and in some cases weight training. Thai boxers rely heavily on kicks utilizing the shin bone. As such, practitioners of muay Thai will repeatedly hit a dense heavy bag with their shins, conditioning it, hardening the bone through a process called cortical remodeling. [36] Striking a sand-filled bag will have the same effect.

A fighter punching a heavy bag at a training camp in Thailand Punching bag.jpg
A fighter punching a heavy bag at a training camp in Thailand

Training specific to a Thai fighter includes training with coaches on Thai pads, focus mitts, heavy bag, and sparring. Daily training includes many rounds (3–5 minute periods broken up by a short rest, often 1–2 minutes) of these various methods of practice. Thai pad training is a cornerstone of muay Thai conditioning that involves practicing punches, kicks, knees, and elbow strikes with a trainer wearing thick pads covering the forearms and hands. These special pads (often referred to as Thai pads) are used to absorb the impact of the fighter's strikes and allow the fighter to react to the attacks of the pad holder in a live situation. The trainer will often also wear a belly pad around the abdominal area so that the fighter can attack with straight kicks or knees to the body at any time during the round.

Focus mitts are specific to training a fighter's hand speed, punch combinations, timing, punching power, defense, and counter-punching and may also be used to practice elbow strikes. Heavy bag training is a conditioning and power exercise that reinforces the techniques practiced on the pads. Sparring is a means to test technique, skills, range, strategy, and timing against a partner. Sparring is often a light to medium contact exercise because competitive fighters on a full schedule are not advised to risk injury by sparring hard. Specific tactics and strategies can be trained with sparring including in close fighting, clinching and kneeing only, cutting off the ring, or using reach and distance to keep an aggressive fighter away.

Due to the rigorous training regimen (some Thai boxers fight almost every other week) professional boxers in Thailand have relatively short careers in the ring. Many retire from competition to begin instructing the next generation of Thai fighters. Most professional Thai boxers come from lower economic backgrounds, and the purse (after other parties get their cut) is sought as means of support for the fighters and their families. [37] Very few higher economic strata Thais join the professional muay Thai ranks; they usually either do not practice the sport or practice it only as amateur boxers. [38] [39]

Famous practitioners

See also

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Kickboxing is a group of stand-up combat sports based on kicking and punching, historically developed from karate mixed with boxing. Kickboxing is practiced for self-defence, general fitness, or as a contact sport.

Kick Physical strike using the leg, foot or knee

A kick is a physical strike using the leg, in unison usually with an area of the knee or lower using the foot, heel, tibia (shin), ball of the foot, blade of the foot, toes or knee. This type of attack is used frequently by hooved animals as well as humans in the context of stand-up fighting. Kicks play a significant role in many forms of martial arts, such as capoeira, kalaripayattu, karate, kickboxing, kung fu, MMA, Muay thai, pankration, pradal serey, savate, sikaran, silat, taekwondo, vovinam, and Yaw-Yan. Kicks are a universal act of aggression among humans.

Strike (attack) Directed physical attack

A strike is a directed physical attack with either a part of the human body or with an inanimate object intended to cause blunt trauma or penetrating trauma upon an opponent.

Sanda (sport) Chinese self-defense system and combat sport

Sanda, formerly Sanshou, also known as Chinese boxing or Chinese kickboxing, is the official Chinese full contact combat sport. Sanda is a fighting system which was originally developed by the Chinese military based upon the study and practices of traditional kung fu and modern combat fighting techniques; it combines full-contact kickboxing, which includes close range and rapid successive punches and kicks, with wrestling, takedowns, throws, sweeps, kick catches, and in some competitions, even elbow and knee strikes.

Muay Lert Rit or Lerdrit is the generic name attributed to the set of principles and fighting techniques employed by Siamese warriors for centuries on South East Asian battlefields. This form of Muay has been used primarily by the Royal Thai Army‘s Palace Guard, the Capital’s Defense Corps, war elephants’ Defense Units and Special Infantry Corps. Siamese Lert Rit was based on a clever combination of the Nine Natural Weapons (Nawarthawooth), i.e., hands, feet, knees, elbows and head, which were used to attack and defend. It was also based on the four ancestral strategies used by Special Infantry Corps: Tum, Tap (crush), Chap (grab), Hak. the technical background has been systematized and updated, in order to be applied by civilians. Muay Lert Rit of today is a traditional martial art born from the ancestral precepts of Siamese warriors, adapted to the self-defence needs of modern practitioners, regardless of their physical characteristics and the conditions under which its techniques are applied.

Pradal serey

Pradal Serey or Kun Khmer is an unarmed martial art and combat sport from Cambodia. It is a martial art practiced by young, athletic people. The official Khmer name of the sport is Kbach Kun Pradal Khmer. In Khmer, pradal means fighting or boxing and serey means free. Thus, pradal serey may be translated as "free fighting" or "free boxing". The sport consists of stand up striking and clinch fighting where the objective is to knock an opponent out, force a technical knockout, or win a match by points.

Lethwei Unarmed Burmese martial art

Lethwei, or Burmese boxing, is a full contact combat sport from Myanmar that uses stand-up striking along with various clinching techniques. Lethwei is considered to be one of the most brutal martial arts in the world, as the sport is done bareknuckle with only tape and gauze while fighters are allowed to strike with their fists, elbows, knees, and feet, and headbutts are also permitted.

Stand-up fighting

In martial arts and combat sports, stand-up fighting is hand-to-hand combat between opponents in a standing position, as distinguished from ground fighting. Clinch fighting is stand-up grappling. Fighters employ striking, including striking combinations, using either body parts or mêlée weapons, to incapacitate or injure the opponent. Combatants use blocking techniques to block the opponent's attacks.

Knee (strike)

A knee strike is a strike with the knee, either with the kneecap or the surrounding area. Kneeing is a disallowed practice in many combat sports, especially to the head of a downed opponent. Styles such as Muay Thai and several mixed martial arts organizations allow kneeing depending on the positioning of the fighters. Knee strikes are native to the traditional Southeast Asian martial arts and traditional Okinawan martial arts.

Clinch fighting Grappling position in boxing or wrestling, a stand-up embrace

Clinch fighting is the part of stand-up fighting where the combatants are grappling in a clinch, typically using clinch holds. Clinching the opponent can be used to eliminate the opponent's effective usage of some kicks, punches, and melee weapons. The clinch can also be used as a medium to switch from stand-up fighting to ground fighting by using takedowns, throws or sweeps.

Grappling position

A grappling position refers to the positioning and holds of combatants engaged in grappling. Combatants are said to be in a neutral position if neither is in a more favourable position. If one party has a clear advantage such as in the mount they are said to be in a "dominant position". Conversely, the other party is considered to be in an inferior position, usually called "on the bottom", but in this case sometimes called the "under mount".

Boxing styles and technique

Throughout the history of gloved boxing styles, techniques and strategies have changed to varying degrees. Ring conditions, promoter demands, teaching techniques, and the influence of successful boxers are some of the reasons styles and strategies have fluctuated.

WBC Muaythai is a non-profit organization that regulates, sanctions, and supervises professional Muay Thai championships, worldwide. The organization also adheres to the standard rules and regulations for all Muay Thai competitions as approved by the Board of Boxing Sport Sports Authority of Thailand. The WBC MuayThai is active in over seven-five countries and territories around the world promoting the sport, culture, and rich heritage of MuayThai. WBC Muaythai has its own constitution, rules, and regulations, aiming to promote the sport and foster Muay Thai championships in all weight divisions.

The traditional martial arts of the Mainland Southeast Asia are related to one another, and as a group to Indian martial arts.

Ilya Grad is an Israeli Muay Thai boxing champion. His current professional record stands at 35 wins with 16 knockouts, 13 losses and no draws. In 2010 he was considered one of the eight best amateur Muai Thai boxers in the world. In February 2012, Grad won the WCK international title in China, In January 2013 the I-1 WMC world professional title in Hong Kong and in April WMC title in Singapore. Grad also made history by being the first known Israeli boxer to enter Malaysia under his Israeli passport.

Artem Vakhitov Russian Muay Thai kickboxer (born 1991)

Artem Olegovich Vakhitov is a Russian Muay Thai kickboxer who competes in the cruiserweight and heavyweight divisions. Vakhitov is the former Glory Light Heavyweight Champion.

The Federation of Mixed Impact Martial Arts R-1 is a promotional organization aimed at mixed martial arts "R-1" development and popularization in Russia. The R-1 Federation unites various aspects of martial arts. R-1 rules are based on research into preferences of tournament participants and spectators. The rules are intended to guarantee maximum entertainment. A related product called Combat Time R-1 emerged on the world professional sports arena.

Amy Pirnie is a Scottish Nak Muay and kickboxer, who has most recently competed with Yokkao and Enfusion. She is the reigning Lion Fight super-flyweight champion, and the reigning ISKA strawweight world champion.


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Further reading