Muay Thai and Its History
Muay Thai has a strong reputation for its strong connection with the Thai tradition over centuries. In the mid-16th century, Muay Thai became more recognized as the nations’ martial art during the reign of King Naresuan. King Naresuan liberated Ayutthaya (the previous capital city of Thailand) from Myanmar while he was the Crown Prince. He led the soldiers into battles to defend the country against Burmese invasions many times. The king is also widely praised among the Thais for his heroic efforts. Earlier, Muay Thai was used as part of military training as a close-contact discipline and its history can be traced back to 14th century Siam.
Muay Thai is referred to as “The Art of Eight Limbs”; and using eight points of contact the body imitates weapons of war. The hands become the sword and dagger; the shins and forearms were hardened in training to act as armor, and the elbow to fell opponents like a heavy mace or hammer; the legs and knees became the ax. The body operated as one unit. The knees and elbows constantly searching and testing for an opening while grappling and trying to spin an enemy to the ground for the kill.
Muay Thai has become an integral part of military training from the past to the present day. This style of hand to hand combat is centered on the ability of warriors to move through crowds of opponents using blows, kicks, and strikes to attack with speed whilst not exposing themselves to the opponent. As such Muaythai combines attack and defense moves in a seamless and integrated technique.
From the past till the present, fighters wear a traditional headpiece called a mongkron which is unique to each gym as well as prajed, which are armbands. Both are worn as a symbol of protection, warding off negativity and even bad spirits. Many Muay Thai practitioners are tattooed in the traditional way by Buddhist monks, with bamboo needles. The tattoos are believed to protect against evil and, bring good luck, and success. Other pre-fight rituals include praying, meditation, and even how fighters enter the ring. Superstition and the ritualistic ceremony are ingrained in the culture, philosophy, and religion within Thailand, which added even more charm and fascination to the country.
During more peaceful times, free from wars, in the 19th century, King Rama V’s interest saw the sport developing, whilst King Rama VII was the initiator to modernize Muay Thai as a global sport as it is today.