Known as the “Art of eight limbs” due to its combatant’s use of an array of different body parts, Muay Thai is one of the most popular sports in Thailand. Originating in the country, Muay Thai has become a popular form of combat worldwide and many tourists visit the country specifically to see competitions held in traditional Muay Thai boxing arenas. This article will provide insight into this fascinating sport and help you understand why it is so popular within Thailand!
What is Muay Thai Boxing?
At its most basic, Muay Thai Boxing is a combat discipline. The history of this type of combat dates back to the 18th century during the Konbaung Dynasty and the wars between the Burmese and Siam where it was originally knowns as Muay Boran. From the 19th century onwards, the popularity of Muay Thai grew, mainly due to King Rama V who had a personal interest in the sport. Since then, this type of combat has become a staple of Thai culture.
As mentioned above, Muay Thai is a form of boxing that involves the use of many different body parts. The technique of Muay Thai is generally broken down into six different techniques – punching, elbow, kicking, knee, foot-thrust and clinch/neck. Each technique has a variety of different practised moves that are legally allowed when competing in Muay Thai fights. For example, punches include a jab, hook, uppercut and cross.
Generally, in Muay Thai, kicks and elbows are prominent with punches generally being reserved as they can leave an attacker vulnerable and exposed. This form of combat is considered to be one of the most complete and exciting types of martial art due to the variety of moves used and the exciting fights it creates.
The Basic Rules of Muay Thai Boxing
Muay Thai boxing pits two competitors against each other. Competitors must be a minimum age of 15 and fall into one of the 19 weight categories from Mini Flyweight (105lbs) through to Super Heavyweight (209+lbs). In terms of equipment and essentials, Muay Thai is quite spartan – contenders are required to wear gloves, shorts and a groin and mouth guard.
Each contest is split into rounds and each round is scored individually. A round can be scored as 10:9, 10:8 or 10:7. 10 is the score for the winner of the round, and 9,8 and 7 is the score of the loser based on how clearly they lost the round. Matches are decided on total points scores, a knockout or a technical knockout.
The only other rule/tradition is that contestants are required to pay homage before a fight in accordance with the heritage of Muay Thai. This usually involves a short dance accompanied by music played on traditional Thai instruments such as a tom-tom drum.
Best Places To Watch Muay Thai Boxing In Bangkok
You can watch Muay Thai practically anywhere in Thailand, but there is nothing quite like watching a live match in a packed arena in Bangkok. The below are considered to be some of the best venues to watch Muay Thai in the capital:
Any of these venues will offer a true spectacle and a night packed full of splendour, glamour and world class Muay Thai Boxing.
In recent months, Thailand looks to play host to other types of MMA and broaden its horizons as the ONE Championship MMA competition is set to hit Bangkok. There are currently mixed feelings about this as many Thai citizens see westernized MMA in a poorer light than their traditional Muay Thai fighting. For now, until other types of MMA gain traction, Muay Thai is will remain the prominent form of combat sport within Thailand for years to come.
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