Muay Thai - Thai Boxing
Muay Thai or Thai boxing is the National Sport of the Kingdom of Thailand. This Thai martial art has also been subject to an increasing popularity almost all over the world and several international associations has been founded. In traditional Thai Boxing the fighters are allowed to use punches, kicks, knees and elbows. Also "arm throws" are accepted (but no "Judo throws").
In Thailand a Thai Boxing match contains of five three-minute rounds and is held in a boxing ring. There are one judge in the ring, and two judges sitting outside the ring ropes. Normally each boxer has two corner men in their ring corner who are coaching the boxer. In Thai boxing, there are weight divisions, just as in Boxing or Kick boxing. You can win a match on points, TKO (technical knockout) or knockout.
In Thailand the boxers wear; Thai boxing shorts, boxing gloves, suspensor and sometimes also ankle wraps and mouth guard. In many other countries, the boxer also has to wear headgear during a fight. Before the fight starts the boxers wears a Mong Kon which can be described as a head-band given to a skilled fighter from his teacher. It is removed by the corner man before the first round.
Thai Boxing has been developed from the ancient Siamese martial arts of Krabi Krabong and Muay Boran both used by Siamese soldiers. In early days, Muay Thai was mostly used as entertainment for the Royal Family and a Thai war prisoner named Nai Khanomtom succeeded (according to the legend) to defeat ten skilled Burmese boxers in about 1774. He is still a respected and well known Muay Thai legend in Thailand.
Tradition and Rituals
Before each boxing match, the boxers performance a ritual called Wai Kru to show respect for the teacher or Ajarn and the sport. Also a ritual and dance called Ram Muay is performed for warming up and to demonstrate the fighters prowess and origin, to music played by Thai men with traditional Thai instruments.
A PAIR OF MUAY THAI SHORTS - Photo by Jens W, Yenit.com
Training at the Camp
In Thailand the Thai boxing training is performed on a camp or gym. This is a Boxing School with one or (more often) several teachers, which often are successful ex fighters. Many boxers in Thailand starts their training already as children. The training session often begins with a few kilometers of jogging and is followed with mitts or pad work. The students then kicks, hits, knees and elbows the thick leather clothed mitts that held by the teacher. After this so called neck wrestling (clinching) and some muscular strengthening exercises like push ups and sit ups is being done.
A serious Thai boxer often do two training sessions per day; one in the morning and one in the afternoon. Strength, condition, swiftness, flexibility and courage is important characters of a Thai boxer which makes the sport very "all-round" and it fits most people who want to get in great shape. Many camps in Thailand offer training for tourists and non-Thais. Many of these camps, but not all, allow female students.
In Bangkok you will find the most famous Thai Boxing stadiums:
Located on Rama IV Road. The fights are held on Tuesdays and Fridays and starts at 6.30 PM. On Saturdays the fights starts at 5 PM.
Located on Ratchadamnoen Nok Avenue (Not far from Khao San Road and Banglamphu). The fights are held on Mondays, Wednesdays, Thursdays and Sundays. They start at 6.30 PM.
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