Thai boxing, or Muay Thai, is a traditional art of self defence of the Thais. It is different from international boxing in that in the Thai style of unarmed fighting, feet, elbows and knees are used as well as fists. Thus, it resembles more to a real free-for-all fight. A Thai boxing match lasts only five rounds of three minutes each, with a two-minute rest between rounds.
Muay Thai is believed to have started in 1650 when King Naresuen of Siam was captured by the Burmese and offered freedom if he could defeat the Burmese champions. He successfully defeated 12 of the finest Burmese boxers to become a national hero, and instilled the pride of the Thai people making Thai Boxing a national pastime.
It is an adaptation of the Thai military arts. In peacetime the weapons of the battlefield were laid down and the soldiers would fight empty hand to keep their edge. At that time there were few rules, no rounds, and no weight classes. In this time period boxers fought barefooted, their fists and forearms wrapped in hemp rope and combat was extremely brutal. Training methods were vast and varied.
Thai Boxing also find much of it's root's in Buddhism. The ceremony called the "Ram Muay," is a spiritual ceremony which seals off the ring from outside influences, pays homage to gods, parents, teachers, loved ones, king and country. The Ram Muay and the fight itself are accompanied by music from a four piece ensemble.
Most recently Thais have adapted various Western Boxing techniques, training methods, and strategies. In the past 50 years Thai Boxing has enjoyed even greater popularity. Modern western style gloves, weight classes, and 3-minute rounds have been adopted. Because of the rigorous nature of it's testing ground and the directness of it's techniques, Thai Boxing and Thai Boxers are some of the most highly respected martial artists throughout the world.
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