Muay Thai is a full contact combat sport that originated in Thailand in the mid-16th century. The sport carries the nickname, “The Art of Eight Limbs,” due to the targeted use of bodily components as weapons. Fighters expertly utilize their feet, knees, fists and elbows as eight separate points of contact. Fighters also use grappling and sweeping movements to push their opponents off balance and gain the upper hand. This fighting style is all about maintaining precise control of your own body to stay on your feet and deliver swift blows.
Fighting Style History
Muay Thai has a rich history as a practical fighting technique developed for close combat situations in the 16th-century war between Siam and Burma. Fighters would battle using this interesting style to entertain spectators at festivals and other community events. To make the fights even more interesting, Muay Thai fighters would wrap abrasive ropes around their knuckles to cause more damage to their opponents with every strike. As public competitions gained traction, organizers created a universal set of rules to identify the clear winner of the battles.
In the 19th century, the need for close combat fighters in warfare had ended. The general public started training in this fighting style to improve their self-defense skills and physical fitness abilities. To protect fighters from serious injury and death, protective gear for the fists, feet and ankles were declared mandatory for all organized fights.
Muay Thai gained popularity worldwide as fighters challenged and won against seasoned experts trained in other fighting styles. Throughout the 20th century, dozens of sanctioning organizations at all competition levels were developed. These organizations hold extensive competitions at the amateur through professional levels every year. Competitors train at gyms across the world to achieve their dream of becoming the top Muay Thai fighter.
Due to positive perceptions of the benefits of this fighting style, the public continues to watch and participate diligently. As explained by trained fighter Chatri Sityodtong, Muay Thai “is a lifestyle, and a platform to unleash your potential as a human being.”
Moves And Techniques
Modern Muay Thai fighters utilize their body as their only weapons. For example, according to martial arts champion Daniel C. Docto, “the knives of Muay Thai are the elbows.” Despite the use of protective equipment, the explosive blows from the fists, feet, knees and elbows are extremely powerful. The slashing elbow strike is particularly effective, as it can instantly knock out the opponent when performed at exactly the right moment.
Fighters can perform dozens of other offensive moves using their eight points of contact, including the flying knee, straight teep, axe kick, spinning back fist and double chop elbow. Western boxing moves, such as the jab and hook, have been incorporated into the worldwide Muay Thai style, though some traditional fighters forgo these movements.
Defensive and control moves, including the clinch, play a vital role in the Muay Thai matches. Fighters must parry, block and avoid their opponent’s attacks while always looking for a way to counter with their own offensive strikes.
Importance Of Proper Form
Whether fighters are sparring at the gym or competing in the ring, proper form, and immense control is the name of the game. Fighters have to precisely perform the key moves to pay homage to this ancient fighting form and come out of the fight as the clear winner.
Proper form also protects Muay Thai opponents from injury. At the professional level, about 3 out of 1000 fighters suffer injury, while beginners see a rate of approximately 14 out of 1000 participants. The use of proper form and precise movements at the professional level definitely keeps injury prevalence to a minimum.
Starting Your Muay Thai Training Journey
You can improve your physical fitness and bolster your self-defense skills by starting your Muay Thai training journey. You are welcome to call or come down to Pure Performance in Washington, DC to sign up for training classes and begin learning this effective fighting style. Our martial arts facility is a safe, secure place to learn and practice the moves and bodily control required to effectively master “The Art of Eight Limbs.”