Muay Thai Boxing
Thai Style Boxing
When it comes to Thai boxing the closest thing that comes to mind is Muay Thai which is actually a combat sport. It is often referred to as the art of eight limbs because of the use of almost all of the body parts unlike traditional boxing. It gained worldwide popularity during the 20th century when Muay Thai boxers defeated other martial arts practitioners. Muay in Thai literally translates to boxing. Pahuyuth means unarmed combat in Sanskrit. It is kick boxing with the use of every part of the body imaginable like the elbows, knees, shin and yes, even the feet. It is considered as a full contact sport.
Sadly, when Burmese raiders looted the temples, they have destroyed the volumes of books written about this type of boxing. The body serves as a weapon. The knees and elbows are used to find a way to grapple an opponent and topple him to the ground. In the olden days, Thailand had to fight a lot of marauders from the surrounding Asian countries. There was a point when soldiers would lose their weapons hence fighting with the use of the body was developed. Later on this art form was taught and passed on by fathers to their sons as a form of defense against the enemies. Thailand’s military upgraded this art of defense and gave it a different name as Ledrit or extreme power.
A traditional and ritualistic dance is performed by fighters before the fight proper starts. It is known as Wai Kroo. It serves to honor the fighter’s mentor/teacher, the sport and the country which in this case is Thailand. The Ram Muay dance on the other hand is unique depending on the method taught by the Master/teacher. The student usually dances in each direction of the ring. When he approaches each corner he touches the posts and offers a prayer. This shows respect towards the opponent and the spirits.
In the 1920s, gloves replaced the horsehide, hemp rope and leather bindings use by Muay boxers. In the past, players can dipped their hemp ropes in resin and use this as a magnet for crushed glass and ash before they attack their opponent. A hard cover groin protector was used to protect the opponents’ private parts.
Today, Muay Thai has evolved into different forms of kick boxing and is used in neighboring Southeast Asian countries. It is given various names. In Cambodia it is known as Pradal Serey. In Laos it is Lao, in Myanmar it is Lethwei while in Malaysia it is known as Tomoi. Today’s sport version of Muay Thai uses gloves, punches and kicks which is similar to Western boxing.
Anybody can learn about this engaging sport. As with any sport, practice produces perfection. Somebody interested in this sport needs total dedication to strengthen all parts of the body. The goal is to find the opponent’s weakest point and strike it with a powerful blow. These martial arts can also be deadly hence when it is use as sport such limitations to its use must be kept in mind to avoid accidental deaths.