Muay Thai is an ancient martial art that has its origins hundreds of years ago. Throughout the centuries the sport has changed and evolved somewhat; different forms of the sport have developed over the years from the origins of Muay Boran (ancient boxing) into the form of Thai boxing that we see today. As well as being a sport, Thai แทงมวย has been a form of warfare as well. Armies were trained in the art of Muay Thai in order to protect kings, and with a history like this you can easily see how it has become such a highly regarded sport in Thailand!
Nowadays boxers do not use their bare hands as they used to, but have gloves very similar to those used in Western boxing. Obviously punching is utilized, though the gloves and the punching are where the similarities between these two types of boxing end! Muay Thai is often referred to as ‘The Art of Eight Limbs’ because eight parts of the body are used by Muay Thai boxers – both hands, elbows, knees and shins are all used. This contrasts to Western boxing where there are just two limbs, or two points of contact – the fists.
For each point of contact there are many different moves that the Thai boxer can use, making this an interesting and quite technical sport, and one that is often learnt from an early age. Children regularly compete for titles and while it is often the children who draw the larger crowds, some Western visitors may find that watching such young children fighting goes against their values and beliefs. There’s no doubt that watching an evening of Muay Thai is great entertainment and if there’s a competition on while you’re visiting Thailand you should try to get along and watch a couple of rounds at least, after all, this is the country’s national sport!
Despite the entertainment value some tourists may find it just a little too controversial when young children, including girls, take to the ring and start punching and kicking each other! This isn’t something you would expect to see in the Western world after all, and can leave some tourists a little shocked. Why would their parents push them into a dangerous sport at such a young age? Are they being exploited so that parents and trainers can make money out of them? These are the kind of questions that run through many visitors’ minds, but there are both pros and cons to children competing in Muay Thai.