The history of Muay Thai
Muay Thai is one of the most popular type of martial arts that is a form of close-combat using the entire body as a weapon. Unfortunately, the history of Muay Thai is a debated issue today by modern scholars, since written resources were lost due to the numerous battles that affected the Thai nation over the centuries.
Muay Thai means ‘The Art of Eight Limbs” that refers to the eight contact points of the body applied during fight. Though several versions of Muay Thai history exist, they all agree that this was the most effective way of self-defence performed by Thai warriors which protected them throughout the long history of Thailand. According to an ancient warfare manual, called Chupasart, fighting was much more than just a weapon – also the total engagement of the body, mind and soul.
The first time Muay Thai started to become a “sport” was in the time of the reign of King Prachao Sua between 1697-1709 A.D. who passionately loved the combat art and often took part incognito in local village contests, usually beating the champions. He also ordered the army practice Muay Thai daily even during peace, driven by the constant threat of wars. As a consequence, Muay Thai was fostered by the army, becoming a crucial practice for soldiers, and a key method for the whole Thai military. Therefore, it was the time of the very first fighting camps as well. Later in 1774, Nai Khanom Dtom made Muay Thai become famous after his legendary fight with a group of Burmese while he was in prison in Burma, when Burmese ransacked and burnt the ancient Thai capital, Ayuddhaya.
Thanks to these notable historical events, watching, learning and performing Muay Thai was also insert into everyday life as an essential part of childhood, which was also followed by establishing further training camps and competitions all over the country. It was popular among all social classes, from the poor and common people to the high-class and royalty for various reasons like self-defence, discipline, training, and balance.
By the 1930s, Muay Thai has been codified with regulations and rules and thus turned into a safe ring sport, introduced to the international sport world as the World War II ended. Today, Muay Thai is an Olympic sport and its reputation is still growing day by day, owing to the continuous increase of training camps and gyms.
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