Among the multitudes of Muay Thai fans in the country one will have to search for the proverbial needle in the haystack to find someone with an interest in or knowledge of the sport’s origins. To be sure, everybody has heard the Muay-Thai fighters in bygone days, but almost all these stories appear to have their origin in the mind of some long-forgotten author, at least in the form they are told today.
The best known and most celebrated of the early fighting greats was Nai Khanom Dtom, who, having been captured by the Burmese, regained his freedom by defeating twelve of the enemy’s gladiators in an unarmed contest witnessed by the Burmese king. His story is related in many versions and appears in grade school textbooks. All stadia in the country honour the hero by dedicating one fight doubt that Nai Khanom Dtom was a historical figure, although no records exist in Thailand. The most reliable confirmation comes from Burma.
Researchers who have attempted to uncover details of Muay Thai’s past have met with little success: the fighting art’s origin remains unknown. Thailand’s early historical records were lost forever in 1767, when Burmese armies laid siege to Siam’s ancient capital of Ayuddhaya. The city was overrun, ransacked and put to the torch. All treasures, religious relics and works of art as well as the royal archives were destroyed.
Thailand’s history, as it is known today, has been pieced together from provincial record, the writings of early European visitors and Burmese, Cambodian and Chinese sources. It is from this amalgamation of information, with its many contradictory statements, that our little knowledge of early Muay Thai comes.
It seemed to have been fairly common to settle disputes of national importance by unarmed combat duels. The annals of Chiang Mai relate the story of King Sen Muang Ma, who died in 1411. His two sons, Yi kumkam and Fang Ken, fought for the throne, but despite long conflict neither could get the upper hand. Fang Ken suggested settling the issue by single combat. Each side was to select a champion boxer from among his followers who was to fight until blood was drawn. The prince whose boxer lost would forfeit his claim to becoming the new ruler. The terms were accepted by both sides. The bout lasted for several hours before Fang Ken’s fighter received a scratch on his foot which showed a trickle of blood. The contest was over and Yi Kumkam became the new king.
During the reign of King Naresuen the Great ( 1590-1605 ), Muay Thai was part of military training. The king himself was an expert on individual combat techniques and won several contests which had considerably historical consequences. In 1577, at the age of 22 he was declared a national hero. Although firearms were already in use at the time, Muay-Thai was an important item in a warrior training curriculum. It supplemented the sword and pike in close-in fighting.
Muay Thai reached the height of its popularity during the reign of Pra Chao Sua, the "Tiger King" ( 1703-1709 ). Siam was at peace with her neighbors and the army was idle. Boxing became the favorite pastime of the population, with young and old, rich and poor joining fighting camps. Every village staged it prize fights and heavy betting, often for all or nothing, transformed ordinary bouts into vicious battles. The king himself was a skillful fighter and was reported to have visited village arenas (Visaidchicharn District) to challenge and eventually defeated the 3 local champions and, still undetected, walked off with the prize money. According to some authorities it was customary to bind hands and forearms with strips of horse hide in order to protect one’s own skin and inflict maximum damage on one’s opponents. Some of the techniques used today are said to be based on Pra Chao Sua’s style of fighting.
The horse hide thongs were later replaced by hemp ropes or starched strips of cotton soaked in glue before being tied to a boxer’s hands. It is also said that for some matches and with the agreement of both contestants, ground glass was mixed with the glue. The fighters wore groin guards of tree bark or sea shells held in place with a piece of cloth tied between the legs and around the waist. In those days there were no such arrangements as weight divisions, or three minute rounds. A bout lasted as long as fighter could continue. Many a boxer is said to have left the arena on a bamboo stretcher-dead.
By the beginning of this century Muay Thai was taught in schools. It continued thusly until 1921.
When too many serious injuries and several cases of brain damage prompted the government to prohibit the practice in all elementary and high schools. The use of hemp ropes and sea shells continued until the 1930s. At that point Muay Thai underwent a major transformation. A number of rules and regulations from international boxing were adopted, modern boxing gloves were introduced and the shell was replaced by a metal cup as a groin protector. Weight divisions were established and bout were staged in a modern ring.
From : Muay Thai, the art of Siamese Un-armed Combat.
By Hardy Stockmann
Warm up / Cool down
It is important to run, skip or bounce on old truck tyres (which is helps improve balance) for at least 15 minutes as a warm up to begin every Muay Thai training session. The idea is to build up a sweat and prepare your body for the vigorous exercise to follow. It is not necessary to spend an excessive amount of time in stretching during Muay Thai training unless you are trying to achieve an extreme level of flexibility or are unusually stiff as a result of a sedantry lifestyle. A suitable routine of around 15 minutes will prepare your muscles for training. And don't forget to do some gentle warm down exercises at the end of each Muay Thai training session. This will help your joints to remain supple. A proper warm up and cool down routine will protect you from injury.
Running is essential to develop stamina and toughen the legs. Running is best done in the early morning and should vary in distance day by day. At least one day a week should be a rest day. Try to avoid running on concrete roads or pavements, though it is not the end of the world if this is your only option. Be careful when running on uneven surfaces and wear good shoes. Running on sand and in shallow water can be good occasionally. Steadily increase the distance you run each day. If you are not fit enough to run, then begin with a brisk walk and steadily build up. Don't use a lack of fitness to delay your start on Muay Thai training. Joining a club will help with motivation.
Skipping is an integral part of Muay Thai training, it is an excellent way to warm up the body if you are not running, and also helps develop stamina and co-ordination. Skip by rounds, keep your mind relaxed and alert. When skipping hop from one foot to the other - don't bounce on two feet.
Shadow boxing is essential to learning the proper Muay Thai technique. Shadow boxing in front of a mirror allows you to observe and correct your movements. When shadow boxing do not shorten the punch or kick, remember to use your full range of movement. Even top level Muay Thai fighters begin their training routine with a shadow boxing warm-up.
Incorporate the use of dumb-bells into your Muay Thai training routine. It will help to build strength. Lighter weights with many repetitions is best. Free weights work better than fixed weight training machines as they do not limit your range of movement, but you need to train carefully to avoid injury. Training with very heavy weights is good for body building competitions, but not the best way to train for a Muay Thai fight. Normally Thai boxers do not want to increase their body weight.
Working on the hanging bags will build power and stamina into your kicks and punches as well as toughen your body. Kicking the bags often is the only sensible way to condition (that is de-sensitize) your shins. Aggressive methods of training such as using bottles or other very hard objects to condition the shins is not recommended, and also not neccesary. This kind of training may cause unnesseccary injury to the bones in your legs. At Horizon Thai Boxing camp we fill our bags with scraps of cloth, not sand which is very hard, though still expect some bruising (girls especially) if you are a novice.
As you progress in the art of Muay Thai boxing, you will learn to use the strikes learnt against Thai Pads. Your Muay Thai trainer wears a set of Thai pads, a stomach pad and shin guards which allows you to attack him as if he were an opponent. Full power striking of the Thai Pads is a tough part of Muay Thai training and an amazing workout. Pad work will develop your footwork, co-ordination and spatial awareness. Pad work is a very distinctive and essential part of Muay Thai training.
Use of the speed and punching balls will increase your co-ordination, and will help to build your shoulders necessary to maintain a strong guard.
Once you have a comprehensive foundation in place you will be ready to participate in controlled sparring. This will form the major part of your Muay Thai training routine. At Horizon Thai Boxing Camp we have full protective gear available for use during Muay Thai training sessions.
After demonstrating proficiency during Thai pads training, stand-up grappling techniques practised with a partner provides the final step between sparring and fighting. During this part of Muay Thai training you will learn to control your opponent by trying to lock his arms or neck in a clinch. From this position it is possible to deliver the knees, or knock your opponent to the floor. This is a very tough aspect of Muay Thai training. These drills are done at the end of each Muay Thai training session prior to the final shadow boxing warm down.
Know the Muay Thai Rules.
Fly weight up to 112 lbs
Bantam weight up to 118 lbs
Feather weight up to 126 lbs
Light weight up to 135 lbs
Welter weight up to147 lbs
Middle weight up to up to 160 lbs
Heavy weight over 175 lb
Muaythai rules & regulations of Lumpinee boxing stadium B.E. 2500
The crowd of spectators that gathers to see a Muay Thai match provide almost as much entertainment as the contestants in the ring, and are vital to the sport. Muay Thai matches are awash with color and pageantry and alive with music and spirit. The crowd of spectators erupts with each blow that a contestant lands on his opponent and as the excitement in the ring increases, so does the noise level in the arena. This tremendous atmosphere makes a Muay Thai match entertaining and exciting. The sights and sounds of a Muay Thai match are a one of a kind experience, and provide a unique insight into the fighting spirit of the Thai people. A boxing match normally includes around eight fights with a maximum of five rounds each. Make sure you experience the excitement of a Thai boxing match during your visit to Thailand. A well-fought match generates incredible intensity in and out of the ring. The increasingly frenetic rhythms of the traditional three-piece band and the loud shouts of "Oy, oy, oy" from the crowd ramp up the intensity still higher.
Lumpini Stadium, located to the east of Lumpini Park on Rama IV Road, is one of Bangkok's major boxing stadiums. Bouts at Lumpini are held on Tuesdays and Fridays at 6.00 pm, and twice on Saturdays at 5.00 pm and 8.30 pm. It is easy to tell when a fight is in progress by the hundreds of motorcycles parked outside on the road. Ticket prices vary according to the seating and are astronomically more expensive for foreigners.
The Ratchadamnoen Boxing Stadium on Ratchadamnoen Nok Avenue near the TAT office is another major boxing stadium in Bangkok. They hold bouts on Mondays at 5.00 and 9.00 pm, Wednesdays at 6.00 pm, Thursdays at 6.00 pm, and Sundays at 5.00 pm. There are also practice bouts held at 2.00 pm on Sundays. Tickets vary in price depending on the seating. And as at Lumpinee foreigners are expected to subsidise the event through high ticket prices. The area in the immediate vicinity of Ratchadamnoen Stadium has some of the city's best Isaan (northeastern) food, with popular dishes such as 'som tam' (spicy papaya salad) and 'kai yang' (grilled chicken).
Baan Klang Stadium
Every Friday night from October 16, 2009, Elite Fight Night brings you the very best of International Muaythai and local entertainment in a televised extravaganza from Bangkok’s newest and finest boxing stadium.
The Baan Klang Stadium in Pathum Thani on the northern outskirts of Bangkok is a brand new, state-of-the-art boxing arena designed to help raise the image of Muaythai in Thailand by providing a stadium for VIPs and Muaythai connoisseurs alike to enjoy a great night out in the comfort of a luxury venue.
The Baan Klang Stadium is more than just a boxing arena; it is a place for VIPs to enjoy a great night’s entertainment, and it is THE venue for Muaythai fans to experience the thrill of watching live Muaythai in comfort.
Overlooking the ring, nine VIP boxes with balconies afford spectacular views of the action. Inside, members can relax on huge sofas in the luxury of a spacious lounge while watching close ups of the night’s entertainment or enjoying a spot of karaoke on large screen TVs. Each VIP box also has its own private kitchen while two waitresses are always on hand to make sure the VIPs are looked after all night.
Down at ringside, 1,000 well-designed seats make sure that everybody not only has a good view of the action but also can relax in comfort.
On the opposite side of the stadium from the VIP boxes, an elevated stage provides the ideal platform for the evening’s entertainers and ensures that everyone has a clear view.
Throughout the Baan Klang Stadium, Muaythai fans enjoy comfortable seating, air-conditioning, clear views and state-of the art sound and lighting. The Baan Klang Stadium is the venue that Muaythai fans in Thailand have been waiting for.
Watch Elite Fight Night from the Baan Klang Stadium every Friday evening between 8:15pm and 10:30pm, starting from October 16, 2009. Elite Fight Night is also broadcast live on TGN.
Elite Fight Night: start your weekend with a bang.