Muay Thai

Muay Thai (Thai: มวยไทย, RTGS: Muai ThaiIPA: [mūɛj tʰāj]) is a combat sport from Thailand that uses stand-up striking along with various clinching techniques. It is similar to other Indochinese kickboxing systems, namely Pradal Serey from Cambodia, Tomoi from Malaysia, Lethwei from Myanmar and Muay Lao from Laos. Descended from Muay Boran, Muay Thai is Thailand’s national sport.

The word muay derives from the Sanskrit mavya which means “to bind together”. Muay Thai is referred to as the “Art of Eight Limbs” or the “Science of Eight Limbs” because it makes use of punches, kicks, elbows and knee strikes, thus using eight “points of contact”, as opposed to “two points” (fists) in boxing and “four points” (hands and feet) used in other more regulated combat sports, such as kickboxing, boxing, and savate.  A practitioner of Muay Thai is known as anak muay. Western practitioners are sometimes called nak muay farang, meaning “foreign boxer.”

Formal muay Thai techniques are divided into two groups: mae mai or major techniques and luk mai or minor techniques. Muay Thai is often a fighting art of attrition, where opponents exchange blows with one another. This is certainly the case with traditional stylists in Thailand, but is a less popular form of fighting in the contemporary world fighting circuit where the Thai style of exchanging blow for blow is no longer favorable. Almost all techniques in muay Thai use the entire body movement, rotating the hip with each kick, punch, elbow and block.

The two most common kicks in Muay Thai are known as the thip (literally “foot jab”) and the te chiang (kicking upwards in the shape of a triangle cutting under the arm and ribs) or roundhouse kick. The Muay Thai roundhouse kick uses a rotational movement of the entire body and has been widely adopted by practitioners of other combat sports. It is superficially similar to a karate roundhouse kick, but includes the rotation of the standing leg, like in Kyukushin, Goju, Kojosho and Kenpo, it is done from a circular stance with the back leg just a little ways back (roughly shoulder width apart) in comparison to instinctive upper body fighting (boxing) where the legs must create a wider base. This kick comes with the added risk of having the groin vulnerable at times, which is against Karate and Tae Kwon Do ideology in general except for brief moments after a kick for example. The roundhouse kick draws its power entirely from the rotational movement of the body; the hips. It is thought many fighters use a counter rotation of the arms to intensify the power of this kick, but in actuality the power is from the hips and the arms are put in said position to get them out of the way.

If a roundhouse kick is attempted by the opponent, the Thai boxer will normally check the kick, that is he will block the kick with his own shin. Thai boxers are trained to always connect with the shin. The foot contains many fine bones and is much weaker. A fighter may end up hurting himself if he tries to strike with his foot or instep.

Muay Thai also includes other varieties of kicking such as the side kick and spinning back kick. These kicks are used in bouts only by few fighters.

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