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Muay Thai – History And The Basics
Thailand’s national sport, Muay Thai or Thai Boxing is more popularly known as “The Art of the Eight Limbs”; with the ‘eight limbs’ referring to the elbows, hands, knees and shins, all of which are extensively used in this sport. An experienced exponent of Muay Thai would have mastered the art of executing strikes using these “eight limbs” as eight points of contact as opposed to the fist and feet or “four points” that are used in other martial arts forms or the fists; “two points” used in western boxing. Muay Thai is also known as Muay Lao in Laos, Tomoi in Malaysia or Pradal Serey in Cambodia.
History of Muay Thai
The history of Muay Thai is an intrinsic part of the history of Thailand. An inherently peaceful and unwarlike people, for centuries the Thais were forced to defend their land and themselves from hostile and aggressive powers. They adopted and soon perfected a form of hand-to-hand combat, which over time became a rite of passage for the males and all Thai men took up training in this martial art form. It later became a necessary part of military training and went on to become the national sport of the country.
In recent years, this traditionally Thai sport has attracted a huge following world-wide and training facilities have been established in almost all countries of the world.
Muay Thai can be categorized into two major groups; Muay Kiew, which is the more popular form, is full of feints and tricks that are designed to catch the opponent off guard. The second from, Muay lak, emphasizes on patience and caution and is very rarely seen nowadays.
A Muay Thai match has a maximum of 5 rounds with each round lasting 3 minutes. There is a two minute rest period in between each of the 5 rounds. Match rules are rigid and no extra rounds are allowed. Contestants are required to weigh in naked prior to the fight.
Basic Rules on clothing and equipment
In its most traditional form, Muay Thai was very dangerous sport with fighters using no safety gear of any kind except for lengths of cords wrapped around the fists instead of gloves. Safety regulations have been changed over the years and Muay Thai fighters now use gloves that are similar to those worn in Western boxing. Each glove should not weight less than 172 grams or 6 ounces. The gloves should be in good condition and should not be crushed, kneaded or squeezed in order to alter its original shape.
Only red or blue trunks can be worn, with the contestant choosing the color of his corner. The two contestants do not wear either shoes or shirt.
Contestants must wear gum shields for gum protection, ankle cap for ankle protection and sturdy athletic cups or supporters for groin protection.
Mongkol, a sacred cord worn by many Thai men, is permitted to be worn around the head only during the pre-fight ritual where both contestants pay homage to the ancestral teachers and masters of the sport. However this cord will have to be removed prior to the start of the fight.
Metal in any form is prohibited and cannot form any part of the equipment or apparel.
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