Before writing this guide I would first like to give some background and history about Muay Thai. Muay Thai dates back to the ancient times. In those days it was better known as Muay Boran (the old style of Thai Boxing). Muay Boran encapsulated all the different styles including Muay Thai, Muay Plum, Krabi Kabong, etc. However a lot of the evidence to substantiate the exact beginnings of Muay Boran was lost during the conflict with the Burmese. The Burmese took over Ayutthaya and burnt it to the ground. Unfortunately Ayutthaya was where all the historical records where kept relating to Thailand. However the exact date of the beginnings of Muay Boran is neither here or there. The important thing is that it was born and was used in those days to defend Siam (Thailand).
In those days a great deal of importance was placed on Muay Boran and the King himself would be a very accomplished practioneer. There are 4 main events that stick out for me in the history of Muay Boran/Thai. They are the reign of Prince Naresuan, The Tiger King, the introduction of the queensberry rules and the introduction of Muay Thai to the UK in 1977 by Master Sken.
The 16th Century saw a lot of conflict between Burma and Siam. The Burmese captured and dominated the country until the death of their King in 1585. This was a turning point in Thai history, as it gave Prince Naresuan the opportuity to reorganise the Siam army and drive the Burmese from Siam. The final battle that saw the end of the Burmeses' domination was fought between the crowned Prince of Burma and Prince Naresuan. Prince Naresuan ended up cutting the crown Prince of Burma from shoulder to waist. The Burmese army withdrew, giving independence to Siam.
During the reign of King Naresuan, Muay Thai was part of military training. This has remained this way until this day.
The Tiger King (1703 - 1709)
Muay Thai, as a sport really came into it's own during the reign of the Tiger King (Pra Chao Sua). Every villiage would stage it's prize fight with practioneers of all classes entering the contests. The King himself was a very skillful boxer and he would disguise himself to enter local contents and defeat the local champions. Some of the strategies used today can be attributed to the Tiger King's style of boxing.
The Queensberry Rule
Perhaps the most pivotal time for Muay Thai as a sport came in 1930. It saw the introduction of the Queensberry Rules, which saw the introduction of boxing gloves, groin guards and weight categories. Prior to this fighters would often wear hemp rope wrapped around their hands and dipped in glass. They would often fight until death or first blood drawn. There is no doubt in my mind that the introduction of the Queensberry Rules made Muay Thai a much more humane sport. However it saw the loss of some of the traditional techniques. It has also seen the restriction of some ploughing and throwing techniques, in recent years, in the ring in the interest of safety. This is a good and bad thing. It is a good thing because it makes the sport more safe. However we are losing some of the most effective and beautiful techniques Muay Thai has and are in dangerous of turning Muay Thai into a sport rather than an art.
Master Sken Arrival
Up until 1977 the UK had never seen Muay Thai. This changed in 1977 with the arrival of Master Sken. He was joined by Master Toddy and Master Wood and they began to take Muay Thai forward. Master Toddy left the UK for the US and Master Sken has continued until this day to promote the name and enhance the name of Muay Thai in this country. I would like to thank Master Sken personally on behalf of his students worldwide, without him Muay Thai would be a very different art in this country.
Muay Thai Boxing Guide
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20 May 2007
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