Muay Thai

What is Muay Thai?

Muay Thai is a striking martial art – also known as Thai Boxing and Thai Kickboxing - and a system of fighting often referred to as “the art of eight limbs” due to its use of shins, knees, fists, and elbows to strike.  

Popular in Southeast Asia for hundreds of years, Muay Thai still has a huge following in Thailand with frequent full-contact ring matches.  

Muay Thai has been gaining in popularity outside of Southeast Asia as a result of its versatility and usefulness in Mixed Martial Arts competitions such as the Ultimate Fighting Championships.  Along with Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, Muay Thai has become an MMA staple for many serious fighters.

History of Muay Thai

There are differing theories as to the origins of Muay Thai.  Some say it came with the migration of the Thai people from China to present day Thailand.  Other theories are that it was more influenced by the Khmer civilization.

Modern Muay Thai is derived from its predecessor, Muay Boran (“ancient Boxing”) which was the original mode of unarmed combat used by Siamese warriors.  

Muay Boran developed into a modern sport from the later half of the 1800s during a time of peace in the region, where it came to be practiced as a form of exercise and had support from the Thai Royal Palace.  

By the 1920s the term ‘Muay Thai’ was in common use.  Matches were carried out in rings similar to western boxing, as well as the practice of using gloves to cover the hands.

Today, successful MMA fighters such as Anderson Silva, Cung Le, and Wanderlei Silva count Muay Thai as an important stand-up component to their training regimen and fighting style. In addition, Muay Thai has entered popular culture with the films: Ong Bak, The Protector and Born to Fight; as well as gaming culture with the games Street Fighter, Virtua Fighter and Tekken.

Philosophy of Muay Thai

Just as many Japanese Martial arts employ a bowing gesture as a sign of respect and humility to opponents and teachers, Muay Thai fighters perform the Wai khru ram muay, a traditional pre-fight dance to show respect to their teachers and showcase their fighting prowess.  Thailand’s Buddhist traditions are also reflected in this dance with the fighter bowing three times to ask the Buddha for protection for himself and for his opponent. 

Muay Thai as Self-Defense

Unlike other forms of boxing and kickboxing, where action usually stops in clinch situations, Muay Thai lets the action continue while knees and elbows deliver vicious blows.  The common criticism of many striking arts is that they can be nullified in a clinch; not the case with Muay Thai. 

Muay Thai for Kids

Many Muay Thai schools have developed programs for kids that emphasize co-ordination and agility drills all the while developing discipline and respect.  Check with your local training facility for availability of kid’s classes.

Muay Thai for Adults

Muay Thai fighters, similar to western boxers, are well conditioned, able to go 5 three minute non-stop rounds.  So, one can expect Muay Thai training to be intense.  Muay Thai Training and drills involve lots of bag and pad work usually done in intervals or circuits, as well as running, shadowboxing, rope jumping, body weight resistance exercises, medicine ball exercises, abdominal exercises, and in some cases weight training.

Muay Thai Associations & Resources:

Canadian Amateur Muay Thai Association of Ontario
Thai Boxing Association-Sanctioning Authority
Oceania Muaythai Federation

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