Muay Thai, also known as Thai Boxing is the National Sport in Thailand and is practised all over the world. It is a combat sport, consisting of striking and clinching techniques. It is known as the ‘the art of eight limbs.’ It is known as ‘the art of eight limbs’ as it uses the fists, elbows, knees and shins. The eight limbs are used as weapons to mimic the weapons of war in both attack and defence. The hands become the sword and dagger, the shins and forearms act as armour against the blows, the elbow acts as a mace or hammer knocking their opponent to the floor and the legs and knees act as the axe.
The early beginnings of Muay Thai
The legend of Nai Khanom Toom is known throughout the Thai Boxing world. He and thousands of Siamese were being held as prisoners due to the Burmese invasion in 1774. The Burmese King, Mangra ,arranged a contest between a Burmese boxer and Khanom Tom to test the fighting skills of both. Nai Khanom Toom performed Wai Kru, which was completely unknown to the Burmese, and then went on to win the fight by a knock out. The King was unable to believe the skill of Nai Khanom Toom and was convinced he must have used sorcery to win. The King then chose a further nine fighters to compete against Nai Khanom Toom who, with his superior fighting skills, won all nine fights.
This impressed the King so much, he granted freedom to Nai Khanom Tom and all the Siamese (Thai) people. Since then Nai Khanom Toom has been called the Father of Muay Thai. By winning the freedom of his people and country he made his fighting system known and feared.
Nai Khanom Toom
Wai Kru means ‘pay respect to your teacher.’ Ram Muay translates as ‘boxing dance,’ this is performed in the ring before a fight to pay respect to their teacher and to appease the Spirits. Many Thai people believe the spirits can cause problems so they too must be respected. There are many variations of the Wai Kru, which are passed on from the teacher to pupil. Many other religions also use the Ram Muay as it is important physically, mentally and artistically. It can be a system for stretching the muscles, creating concentration in the mind and to boost moral.