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M U A Y  T H A I  F E V E R  Muay Thai Gym, Chiang Mai

Muay Thai History

History of Muay Thai

Muay Thai, also known as "The Art of Eight Limbs," is a martial art that has its origins in Thailand. The earliest records of Muay Thai date back over 2,000 years, making it one of the oldest martial arts in the world. Originally developed as a form of self-defense for soldiers, Muay Thai evolved over time into a sport and a way of life for many people in Thailand.

Throughout its history, Muay Thai has been deeply intertwined with Thai culture and traditions. In ancient times, it was considered an essential skill for Thai soldiers, and it was also used as a means of resolving disputes between rival kingdoms. Muay Thai fighters were respected and revered, and their prowess in the ring was often compared to that of wild animals.

Over time, Muay Thai became more formalized, with the introduction of rules and regulations to make the sport safer and more civilized. In the 20th century, Muay Thai gained international recognition as a competitive sport, and today it is practiced by millions of people around the world.

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Muay Thai History,
The Sukhothai Era

The first Thai army was created in 1238 in the northern city of Sukhothai to protect the government and the city’s people. Training included hand-to-hand combat, the use of weaponry, and the use of the body as a weapon. Muay Thai and Krabi Krabong both evolved from this training.

The first Muay Thai camps showed up due to the constant threat of war between Thailand, Burma, and Cambodia. These camps were training centers set up throughout the kingdom. Young Siamese men practiced Muay Thai for self-defense, exercise, and discipline, creating large armies to protect the Thai Kingdom.

During the Era of King Narai, Muay Thai became a national sport. Fundamental traditions that would remain for the next 400 years were developed. One particular tradition was hemp rupees and threads used as hand coverings wrapped around the hands and forearms. 

Weight, height, experience, and age did not play factors in choosing the fighters’ matches. The local champions represented their city or village. Often as a way of settling disputes, they would fight on behalf of wealthy businessmen or royalty.

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Muay Thai History,
The Thonburi Era

Thailand finally became peaceful again during the Thonburi era. Soldiers in the military generally trained in Muay Thai while others enjoyed it as a hobby. Due to its rising popularity and peaceful reign upon Thailand, Muay Thai started to become a competitive sport, still with no formal rules. 

Rules and regulations for Muay Thai were born during the Ratanakosin Era. The rounds of each fight were measured in an unusual but fascinating way: with coconuts. A small hole was pierced into a coconut and placed in a water barrel. Once the coconut filled with water and sunk to the bottom of the barrel, the round ended. 

Muay Thai was brought to France and introduced to the rest of the world, during World War I. Stationed in France, Thai soldiers would partake in Muay Thai as a way to boost morale. At times, the soldiers would also compete against French boxers. 

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The Earliest Muay Thai Photo.
The first ever Muay Thai photograph from 1865
Muay Thai history Nai Khanom Tom
Energy drink ad with great re telling of the Nai Khanom Tom story
Muay Thai History,
Nai Khanom Tom

During the 1767 invasion of the Burmese troops in the ancient capital of Ayutthaya, Nai Khanom Tom was one of many Thai residents taken as a prisoner.

Several years later, in 1774, the King of Burma organized a seven-day, seven-night celebration in honor of the Buddhist pagoda. Royal presentations of combat took place between Thai and Burmese fighters in front of the throne, where a boxing ring was arranged. 

Nai Khanom Tom was matched on the first day of celebrations with a Burmese boxer. He perplexed the crowd by beginning the match with an intricate dance that he performed around his opponent. Known as Wai Kru, this dance was a symbolic gesture of thanks to the fighter’s mentor. 

When the match officially began, Nai Khanom Tom quickly defeated his opponent by attacking him with elbow blows to the chest. The match was ruled unfair, however, due to ‘black magic.’ The referee claimed the Wai Kru dance led the opponent to be distracted. Because of this, Nai Khanom Tom had to fight nine more Burmese boxers. 

By no surprise, Nai Khanom Tom was able to defeat each of the boxers, including a boxing teacher from Ya Kai City.

Muay Thai History,
King Prachao Sua

King Prachao Sua had a love so strong for Muay Thai that he competed in tournaments in small cities and villages, disguising himself as a commoner. The King fought in matches against notable fighters and defeated them, including Nai Klan Madthai, Nai Yai Madklek, and Nai Lek Madnok.

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