Muay Thai was developed in ancient times when wars were fought with the use of bows and arrows, swords and spikes. The development of Muay Thai was to transform the body into a multifaceted weapon. The shin was used to block and strike, the arms became twin swords in defense; the fist functioned as a jabbing tip of a spear. The elbow developed into a battle axe used to smash and crush; the knee axed its way through enemy’s defense, the foot a pike, arrow and knife. As each body part transformed into a weapon the new close combat-fighting skill was born.

Early History

King Naresuan

The sport was included in military training and made famous by King Nareusan 1560 A.D. who was captured during a battle between Burma and Siam (now known as Thailand). The Burmese gave him a chance to fight with their best unarmed fighter in effort to fight for his freedom. Upon return to Siam he was hailed a hero and Siamese-style boxing as it was called then became a national sport. This style boxing reached its popularity about two hundred years ago and became an integral part of the Thai culture.

Up until the early part of the century, the fighters used horsehide strips or horse hair to protect the fighter and inflict more damage to their opponent. Later that was replaced by hemp ropes or starched cotton and with the fighters agreement they would grind pieces of glass mixed with sap and spread it onto the strips.

Muay Thai became a favorite past time and the sport of the Thai people; all walks of life flocked to the Thai training camps. Every village had its own champion. During the reign of King Rama V many camps were set up with talent scouts and under royal command fighter were recruited from around the country to fight for the King.

Grand bouts would be arranged in a courtyard or village clearing for large prizes and honor. It was not until King Rama the VI was in reign that the ring was surrounded by ropes and a standard time clock was used for rounds.

Modern Era

Since these times many changes have been made to the sport. The most radical of changes occurred in the 1930’s. It was at this time that the sport was modified to today’s rules and regulations. Rope bindings of the arms and hands were replaced by boxing gloves, a change that vastly opened the growing success of Thai boxers in international boxing.

The introduction of weight class and other innovations such as the organization of the fights into five three minute rounds substantially altered the techniques that the fighters used. This caused some techniques to essentially disappear. Stadiums were introduced in Thailand and eventually the introduction of the television enhanced the popularity of the sport.

Today Muay Thai continues to grow throughout the international boxing community. It is a sport that has emphasis on both offense and defense as well in on stamina.

Muay Thai  is a martial art that anyone can learn; men, woman, children, young or old, whether one is looking to become a professional fighter or to simply stay fit.