The Sport of Kings
Muay Thai is an ancient fighting style originating in Thailand. Used by Thai warriors during times of war and conflict to protect their villages during the harsh beginnings of Thailand. Muay Thai is not just another martial art but a total engagement of body, mind, and spirit.
The word Muay derives from the Sanskrit Mavya which means "to bind together". The style emphasizes close quarter stand-up striking with your fist, elbows, knees, shins, and feet, as well as clinching techniques to subdue your opponents. The fighting style is called among the Thailanese the "art of the eight limbs".
Muay Thai's History
Much of the historical writings on the origin of Muay Thai were lost during the Burmese-Siamese War (1759-1760) where the Burman army burned and sacked the ancient temple of Ayuddhaya. The history that we know was written by Burmese, Cambodian, early European visitors. Historians are still debating on how it all started, but one thing they all agree on is it started as a form of self defense during the beginnings of Thailand. The sport of Muay Thai originated in times of piece during the reign of King Prachao Sua (1697-1709 A.D.). It started to keep soldiers occupied and well trained by having competitions and tournaments among neighboring villages. Rules and regulations were instilled later in its history after its popularity hit the international level.
Muay Thai's Equipment Explanation
Some of the equipment used during competitions have major significance to the Thai culture. The mongkol, the headpiece, are blessed by Buddhist monks and are believed to bestow victory to the wearer. The mongkol is not suppose to touch the ground or be touched by the fighter hands. Reason behind this practice is to keep the blessing of the monks pure without being tainted by the ground. This is why you see Thai fighters going over the ropes of the ring and not through them.
The prajioud, armband, is another piece worn by fighters they are deeply rooted to the beginnings of Muay Thai. Mothers tore pieces of their surong (dress, cloth) when their sons would go off to war for good luck and protection. Westerns have changed the meaning of these pieces and made them to signifying ranking, which is absolutely not the case. Muay Thai differs among many of the martial arts because ranking is not earned through the amount of years an individual practices and trains but rather on his/her accomplishment and performance in the ring.
The Modern Muay Thai gloves did not exist until after deaths occurred due to the use rope-bindings on their hands for competitions. Muay Thai Gloves differ than boxing gloves in that the position of the thumb is a little more forward to allow for better clinching. The palms of Thai boxing gloves have padding to be able to block kicks and punches. Overall the glove is a lot smaller than traditional boxing gloves.
How to learn Muay Thai?
If you would like to learn Muay Thai be sure to check out local boxing gyms that offer Muay Thai lessons. The sport of Muay Thai is spreading like wild fire in the international scene so be sure to be part of this ever evolving sport. If you would like to purchase Muay Thai equipment and gear please be sure to check out MSM Fight Shop for all your Muay Thai needs.