by Jane de Leon
Now Lets Try It For Real!!
Muay Thai is known as “The Art of Eight Limbs” simply because eight parts of the fighter’s body come into contact with the opponents: the head, elbows, feet, hands and knees. No other martial art has 8 contact points, boxing has 2 (fists), while the rest including Judo & Taekwondo have 4 contact points (feet and fists).
There is a legend that Muay Thai became known as the sports of Kings when in 1411, two brothers fought to death for their father King Sen Muajng’s throne. From then on the sport was always endorsed by the royals.
Up until the reign of King Cholalongkorn (Rama V)1868-1910, Muay Thai bouts were fought until one or the other fighter gave up, was rendered unconscious or DEAD!.
It was during the reign of King Cholalongkorn, that military titles were awarded to Muay Thai champions. The ground rules for the sport were also formulated to make it less “deadly”. Gloves were introduced in place of cotton wads dipped in glue; rounds were implemented, weight divisions observed.
Today, amateur fighters have to wear protective helmets and vests, even so, it is still a rare year when no deaths occur related to this bloody sports.
It is not an easy task to be a dedicated Muay Thai fighter. From an early age, boys are recruited and placed in training camps where they will undergo intensive training.
A considerable number of these camps are in Issan(northeastern Thailand), where becoming a Muay Thai fighter is one of the only ways to escape poverty.
Most of these young boys are adopted by their trainers. Training days are long and hard. The boys have to do basis schooling on top of the training. When the boys are ready to compete, they adopt the camp’s name.
Rituals are observed before a fight. Rolled prayers are inserted in the armbands and headband of a fighter. A monk blesses the fighter. Some fighters even have tattoos on their arms & bodies to ward off evil spirits & protect them.
A Muay Thai boxer needs all the training and luck he can get for dodgingmoves like “Rama Pulls the Arrow String” or “Mountain Overturns Earth” or more so with “Break the Elephant’s Neck” and the ultimate “Monk Follower Sweep the Floor”, is quite a feat!.
Why is Muay Thai popular?. The popularity and appeal may be deep rooted to the fact that Thai’s are known for their graciousness, gracefulness and quiet ways, and Muay Thai Boxing is such a contrast to that.
Whatever it is it draws teenagers & grown men from all over the world to train in the many Muay Thai camps that exist throughout the length & breadth of Thailand. Many travel to Thailand with the sole intention of training & fighting rather than any of the other “pleasures” that Thailand has in plenty!.