Muay Thai (Thai Boxing) is an ancient martial that originated in Thailand. It is a form of full contact kickboxing that utilizes kicks and punches as well as elbow and knee strikes.
Because of the eight points of contact (two feet, two fists, two knees and two elbows), Muay Thai is often called “The science of the Eight Limbs“. To this day, Muay Thai is the official national sport of Thailand. The goal in Muay Thai competition is to defeat the opponent by knockout or in the absence of a knockout by a decision of the judges.
Neighboring Southeast Asian countries have their own similar kickboxing based martial arts. For example, Lethwei from Burma, Kun Khmer from Cambodia, Tomoi from Malaysia and Muay Lao from Laos are all martial arts that resemble Muay Thai. Before Burma (Myanmar) became Socialist, there existed a great rivalry between Burmese Boxers and Siamese (Thai) Boxers who would compete against one another.
Modern Muay Thai is derived from Muay Boran and Krabi Krabong both older forms of martial arts and military weaponry training from Thailand. Kicks, punches, elbows and knees eventually replaced weapons to simulate the devasting strikes of the hand held weapons used in warfare.
The term Muay Thai became prevalent in the 1920’s as did the adoption of some of the equipment and rules from Western boxing including the use of boxing gloves, boxing rings, dividing bouts into rounds, time keeping in minutes and the introduction of new rules to regulate the fights. For example, head butts and ground fighting were eliminated from the contests. Prior to the introduction of boxing gloves, Thai Boxers would wrap their hands in hemp rope or leather strips instead of gloves. Pieces of broken sea shells or glass were sometimes grinded into the hand wraps to make the punches even more dangerous.