An effective and brutal striking Martial Art, Muay Thai is the national sport of Thailand and has gained popularity and prominence due to its extensive use in Mixed Martial Arts - MMA. Muay Thai is also known as the art of eight limbs, attributed to its use of the fist, feet, knees and elbows. The entire body is seen as a weapon and knock outs are commonly witnessed in these contests.
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Muay Thai was used to protect the Monarch of ancient Thailand and maintain a stable nation. The Martial art was influenced by military tactics that were employed by the Siamese army and naturally evolved from Krabi Krabong. The Martial Art was said to be particularly prominent amongst the Kings of the time with one participating in tournaments in disguise. Nai Khanom Tom, who is known as the Father of Muay Thai and hailed from the city of Ayuthya, was taken as prisoner of war and made to fight against the best Burmese boxers. It is said that he defeated all of them and the King of Burma had acknowledged him for his skill and fighting prowess. In early Muay Thai competitions, contests were held in a ring which was encircled by rope. Muay Thai fighters would wrap their fists in material instead of the boxing gloves that are used today.
The following are key to becoming an effective and well rounded Muay Thai fighter:
- Stamina - stamina is paramount in this art which requires lots of running and body conditioning
- Shadow Boxing - the aim is to perfect your technique, stance, footwork and rhythm. You are also ecptected to maintain a perfect guard.
- Focus Pad and Bag Work - focus pads are used to drill the delivery of striking combinations as well improve the accuracy of strikes. The heavy bag as with Boxing is used to build a base of powerful strikes.
- Partner Drills - offensive and defensive drills with partners helps the fighter understand how to fight with an opponent.
- Clinching - is a skill that is required to gain a favourable position from which to strike. It involves attacks with knees, elbows and head-butts at extremely close range as well as arm control to prevent the opponent from delivering such strikes.
- Body Conditioning - conditioning the body to take pain and harden the arms, shins and fists is common practice in Muay Thai. They help to deliver more devastating attacks.
- Sparring - intense sparring with a real oppoent helps the practitioner learn what works and what does not in a real altercation. The fighter also hones their fighting style and gains valuable, often transferable, experience.
The Martial Art in Practice
The art consists primarily of striking and clinching. Devastating and deadly blows can be delivered through punches, kicks, elbow strikes and knee strikes. There is large variety of strikes which can be delivered from many angles and varying ranges.
Practitioners of this Muay Thai are often well conditioned, fit and powerful.
- Muay Mat - extremely aggressive, inflicting as much damage as possible in the shortest amount of time
- Muay Tae - a large emphasis of kicking
- Muay Khao - a style that focuses on knee strikes to overpower an opponent
- Muay Femur - incorporates all the beautiful elements of the Martial Art. It employs sophisticated and precise techniques instead of the brutal and aggressive fighting tactics.
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