Traditional Mauy Thai kickboxing or "Thai boxing" is a martial art famed for its brutality and overwhelming power. History records that when six kung fu masters travelled to Thailand to compete against top-ranked Thai fighters, all were defeated in under six minutes total and all were defeated by knockout.1

One could argue that that is because the fight was fought under Thai rules. One has only to watch a practitioner of this martial art in action, however, to understand the result. Allowed techniques in the sport include just about anything besides headbutting2. Elbow strikes are frequently used to swiftly despatch opponents.

Muay Thai was once a required part of training for the Thai military. It was made the Thai national sport by past Thai king Phra Chao Seua and gained enormous popularity. Many fights were fought with horsehide or cotton wraps dipped in glass, and a huge number of these fights were fought to the death.

In the 1920's, Muay Thai was outlawed by the Thai government owing mainly to the high mortality rate. In the 1930's is was reinstated with a modified set of rules which stated in part that:

  • Bouts were to be five rounds of three minutes
  • All fighters were to wear gloves and trunks
  • No footwear is to be worn
  • Rater than the traditional circle, fights take place in a 7.3 meter canvas floor which is surrounded by ropes.

The sport as practised in Thailand is highly ritualised, and good fighters become quite famous. Music is played throughout the bout on a Thai oboe (or pii) and changes in tempo in response to the action in the ring.

The sport's governing body is the World Muay Thai council. Those who wish to teach traditional Thai boxing must first gain the permission of this body.

1Information from the World Muay Thai council

2Cap'nSalty says re Muay Thai: a few other rules: no judo (over the hip style throws), and no striking or grappling while either opponent is on the ground