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Learning and Using Muay Thai (Thai Boxing / Kickboxing) to Knock Out Your Opponents

By Cliff Montgomery,
Muay Thai, translated into English as 'Thai Boxing', is the national sport of Thailand and is a martial art with origins on the ancient battlefields of the Siamese (or Thai) army, when wars were still fought primarily with bows and arrows, swords, and pikes. If the battles at that time came down to hand-to-hand combat, it was soon discovered that arms, legs, knees, and elbows were often the best available weapons.

Thai Boxing evolved from this Krabi-Krabong, literally 'sword and baton', the hand-to-hand tactics of the Thai army.

Such fighting techniques were a major part of Thai military training. The early Muay Thai bouts pitted different companies within the Siamese army against each other with few rules and no weight divisions or time limits. They became quite popular and eventually were shown in stadiums across the country. In the early 20th century, time limits, boxing gloves and a uniform set of rules were introduced. During the latter half of the 20th century Muay Thai was exported to other countries, and is now practiced by hundreds of thousands of people all over the world.

To the Thais, Muay Thai is regarded as a prestigious national pastime. Boys will inevitably learn how to box Thai style. And though its culture is often quite conservative regarding the role of women in the world, Thai girls will learn the basic principles for any necessary self-defense.

Muay Thai is known as "King of the Ring" in kickboxing circles. In fact Thai Boxing is gaining notoriety worldwide, and is now becoming wildly popular in many countries, especially Japan. A large number of young Japanese are now being trained to fight professionally. But in Japan this fighting style is called "Kick Boxing." Therefore kickboxing is quite often wrongly thought of as a Japanese martial art.

To be consistent its true name, 'Muay Thai' or 'Thai Boxing' should be used instead, just as the terms Kendo, Judo, and Karate have remained for those Japanese forms.

What makes this fighting style so attractive to the Thais, as well as others? Firstly, its relative simplicity and practicality. There are very few--if any--over-done, superfluous moves in Thai Boxing; the moves are simple and overwhelmingly practical.

Second, its heavy use of kicks, attacks on weak points of the enemy, and its free use of elbows to the face and knees to the mid-section allow for smaller people to beat a much more powerful opponent.

Muay Thai employs punches, kicks, elbows, knees, standing grappling and head-butts to wear down and knock out an adversary. Thai training methods develop devastating power, speed and superb cardiovascular endurance, as well as fighting spirit.

In Thai Boxing, hand techniques from Western Boxing are combined with elbows, knees and powerful kicking, making it one of the most effective and respected kickboxing arts in the world. Thai Boxing is renowned for its effectiveness, power, conditioning and simplicity.

These advantages inevitably gives Muay Thai a popular appeal, since of course smaller men, women, etc. can employ the moves for a very effective, quick, and practical means of self-protection, and even the strongest men can use it to give themselves a practical edge in a fight.

Thai boxing is both a sport and means of self-defense. Contestants are allowed to use almost any part of their body: feet, elbows, legs, knees, arms and shoulders are all weapons. The playing of traditional music during bouts makes for even greater excitement.

Muay Thai has indeed proven exceptionally effective outside the ring, and has been embraced enthusiastically by a variety of self-defense, sporting, military and law enforcement groups.

In 1788, during the reign of King Rama I, two French brothers arrived in Thailand by boat, having defeated many boxers across the Indo-China Peninsula. King Rama I consulted the Crown Prince, his brother, who offered to find boxers to fight against the Frenchmen. Phraya Phra Klang would accept the challenge, settling the bet at 50 chang (4,000 bhat).

The Crown Prince chose a boxer named Muen Plan of the Royal Guards for the first contest. The match was held at the Grand Palace.

When the match began the large French fighter tried to attack, aiming for the neck and collar-bone. But it did not go as the two brothers had planned. The Thai fighter was apparently remaining an elusive target, while giving the Frenchman what the English have taken to call 'a sound thrashing'.

The other Frenchman, seeing his brother making no progress became frustrated, and pushed Muen Plan's back to stop him from eluding his brother. Members of the Royal Guards saw this break of boxing etiquette and proceeded to help Muen Plan beat the two Frenchmen until they had to be carried back to the boat.

The brothers set sail the next day, with no thought of ever challenging a Thai Boxer again.

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