Often referred to as the ‘art of eight limbs’, Thaiboxning has become one of the most popular combat sports in the world. It is also a staple in the training regimens of many Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) fighters.
Originally called Muay Boran, which means “long and short weapons”, the modern form of Thai boxing grew out of the ancient battlefield tactics of the Siamese army. It is now a full-contact sport with rules and weight divisions.
It was originally practiced in small stadia in rural Thailand where it was a very popular spectator sport. As it gained popularity, the king encouraged it and would host tournaments throughout the country. The victors of these competitions would be drafted as the royal bodyguards. The sport was further brought to the attention of the international community during World War I. When Thai soldiers were stationed overseas in France, they often put on exhibition fights that showcased their ferocious style of fighting.
Thai boxing is considered a striking art, relying heavily on kicks and knee strikes. Practitioners use a variety of stances and footwork to create different angles of attack. They also rely on conditioning exercises like running, shadowboxing, rope jumping, bodyweight resistance training and abdominal exercises. In addition, a lot of the training is done on Thai pads, where the trainer wears thick pads that cover their forearms and hands to allow the fighter to practice their punches and kicks against a live opponent.
A lot of the training is done in a small squared ring that can range in size from 4.9 by 4.9 meters (16 ft) to 7.3 by 7.3 meters (24 ft). Athletes will usually wear head guards, elbow pads and a padded vest. Fighters are typically required to perform a ritual before they enter the ring known as “Wai Kru Ram Muay” or simply Wai Kru. This is a process where the fighter pays respects to their teachers and ancestors.
After this, the fighter will take a bow and do a hand gesture that symbolizes their indebtedness to their gym. Once they have done this, they will enter the ring and begin their fight. This is a highly choreographed event that can last anywhere from 1 to 20 rounds. The winner is determined by the number of points scored in a given round.
Unlike Western boxing, the judges in Thai boxing don’t score the fight based on the number of punches landed. They will score the fight based on the number of points that they have earned in each round. This gives the fighters more incentive to stay in the fight and earn more points for their team.
As a result, there are some rounds in which the fighters will score zero points. This is to encourage fighters to fight aggressively and to stay focused on the fight until the end. This is what makes Thai boxing a very exciting and brutal sport to watch. Its effectiveness has made it a very useful martial art for military forces, police and for people who want to defend themselves.