Muay Thai, or Thai boxing is a form of hard martial art mainly practised in Thailand. Muay Thai has a long history in Thailand, and it is the country’s national sport. It is an ancient martial art and arguably one of the kingdom’s most striking national icons.
Muay Thai is referred to as “The Science of Eight Limbs”, as the hands, shins, elbows and knees are all used extensively in this art.
Dating back to the 13th century, the art has evolved from the training given to enlisted men in the first Thai Army. (Known as Siam at that time and up until the 20th century.) The army was originally formed in the northern city of Sukhothai to protect the city from neighbouring warring tribes. They were trained to kill their enemies using their bodies as weapons.
This training evolved into the art of Muay Thai and, as the threat of invasion remained constant throughout much of Siam's history, training centres were set up around the kingdom to allow the development of this military art of combat. These centres were the first Muay Thai gyms, young men would come to learn to defend themselves and their villages but would also learn discipline and respect. In this way the art of Muay Thai became part of the national identity.
Overflowing with color and ceremony as well as exhilarating moments of clenched-teeth action, the best matches serve up a blend of such skill and tenacity that one is tempted to view the spectacle as emblematic of Thailand’s centuries-old devotion to independence in a region where most other countries fell under European colonial yoke.
In Thailand, Muay Thai training starts at a young age, 7 is years old is common. So begins one of the toughest training regimens of any martial art that will continue 6 days a week every week through to adulthood.