December 2012
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Thailand – Muay Thai – the martial art of kickboxing

Muay Thai is a combat sport from Thailand that uses stand-up striking along with various clinching techniques.

Overview of Muay Thai

• It is similar to other Indochinese kickboxing systems.
• Some of them are pradal serey from Cambodia, tomoi from Malaysia, lethwei from Burma and muay Lao from Laos.
• The word muay derives from the Sanskrit mavya which means “to bind together”.
• Muay Thai is referred to as the “Art of Eight Limbs” or the “Science of Eight Limbs”
• This is because it makes use of punches, kicks, elbows and knee strikes.
• It uses eight “points of contact”, as opposed to “two points” (fists) in boxing and “four points” (hands and feet) used in other more regulated combat sports, such as kickboxing and savate.
• A practitioner of muay Thai is known as a nak muay.
• Western practitioners are sometimes called nak muay farang, meaning “foreign boxer.

History of Muay Thai

• Various forms of kickboxing have long been practiced throughout Southeast Asia.
• Based on Chinese and Indian martial arts, practitioners claim that these systems can be traced back to a thousand years.
• In Thailand, Muay Thai evolved from the older muay boran (ancient boxing).
• This is an unarmed combat method which would have been used by Siamese soldiers after losing their weapons in battle.
• Some believe that the ancient Siamese military created muay boran from the weapon-based art, krabi krabong.
• Krabi krabong nevertheless was an important influence on muay Thai as seen in the movements in the wai khru.
• Muay boran, and therefore Muay Thai, was originally called by more generic names such as pahuyuth , dhoi muay or simply muay.
• Muay became a sport in which the opponents fought in front of spectators who went to watch for entertainment.
• These muay contests gradually became an integral part of local festivals and celebrations.
• The previously bare-fisted fighters started wearing lengths of hemp rope around their hands and forearms.
• This type of match was called muay khat chueak.

Technique of Muay Thai

Formal muay Thai techniques are divided into two groups:
• Mae mai or major techniques
• Luk mai or minor techniques

• Muay Thai is often a fighting art of attrition, where opponents exchange blows with one another.
• This is certainly the case with traditional stylists in Thailand.
• It is a less popular form of fighting in the contemporary world fighting circuit.
• This is because the Thai style of exchanging blow for blow is no longer favorable.
• Almost all techniques in muay Thai use the entire body movement, rotating the hip with each kick, punch, elbow and block.

Body Movement Names in Muay Thai

1. Punching (Chok)
• Jab
• Cross
• Hook
• Swing
• Spinning Backfist
• Uppercut
• Cobra Punch

2. Elbow (Ti sok)
The elbow can be used in several ways as a striking weapon:
• Horizontal
• Diagonal-upwards
• Diagonal-downwards
• Uppercut
• Downward
• Backward-spinning
• Flying
Movement names:
• Elbow Slash
• Horizontal Elbow
• Uppercut Elbow
• Forward Elbow Thrust
• Reverse Horizontal Elbow
• Spinning Elbow
• Elbow Chop
• Double Elbow Chop
• Mid-Air Elbow Strike

Elbows can also be utilized to great effect as blocks or defenses against:
• Spring knees
• Side body knees
• Body kicks or punches.

3. Kicking (Te)
• Straight Kick
• Roundhouse Kick
• Diagonal Kick
• Half-Shin, Half-Knee Kick
• Spinning Heel Kick
• Down Roundhouse Kick
• Axe Heel Kick
• Jump Kick
• Step-Up Kick
The two most common kicks in Muay Thai are known as:
– The thip (literally “foot jab”).
– The te chiang (kicking upwards in the shape of a triangle cutting under the arm and ribs) or roundhouse kick.
– It is superficially similar to a karate roundhouse kick, but includes the rotation of the standing leg, like in Kyukushin, Goju, Kojosho and Kenpo.

4. Knee (Ti khao)
• Straight Knee Strike
• Diagonal Knee Strike
• Curving Knee Strike
• Horizontal Knee Strike
• Knee Slap
• Knee Bomb
• Flying Knee
• Step-Up Knee Strike
Movement Names
– Khao dot (Jumping knee strike)
– Khao loi (Flying knee strike)
– Khao thon (Straight knee strike)

5. Foot-thrust (Thip)
• The foot-thrust or literally “foot jab” is one of the techniques in Muay Thai.
• It is mainly used as a defensive technique to control distance or block attacks.
• Foot-thrusts should be thrown quickly but yet with enough force to knock an opponent off balance.
English names for the movements:
– Straight Foot-Thrust
– Sideways Foot-Thrust
– Reverse Foot-Thrust
– Slapping Foot-Thrust
– Jumping Foot-Thrust

6. Clinch and neck wrestling (Chap kho)
Muay Thai has several other variants of the clinch or chap kho including:
• Arm clinch
• Side clinch
• Low clinch
• Swan-neck

How to defend against attacks?

Defenses in Muay Thai are categorized in six groups:
Blocking – Defender’s hard blocks to stop a strike in its path so preventing it reaching its target.
Redirection – Defender’s soft parries to change the direction of a strike so that it misses the target.
Avoidance – Moving a body part out of the way or range of a strike so the defender remains in range for a counter-strike.
Evasion – Moving the body out of the way or range of a strike so the defender has to move close again to counter-attack.
Disruption – Pre-empting an attack e.g. with defender using disruptive techniques like jab, foot-thrust or low roundhouse kick as the attacker attempts to close distance.
Anticipation – Defender catching a strike (e.g. catching an roundhouse kick to the body) or countering it before it lands.

Rules of Muay Thai

• Muay Thai is practiced in many different countries and there are different rules depending on which country the fight is in.
• It is also dependent on under what organization the fight is arranged.
• The following is a link to the rules section of the Sports Authority of Thailand.
• A popular rule that many organizations use is the banning of elbow strikes.
• Often Muay Thai rules are often similar to those of kickboxing.
• Many believe this is because of the cuts they leave.

Best time to visit / climate

• Thailand is largely tropical.
• It’s hot and humid all year around with temperatures in the 28-35°C range (82-95°F).
• From November to the end of February, it doesn’t rain much and temperatures are at their lowest.
• From March to June, Thailand swelters in temperatures as high as 40°C (104°F).
• From July to October, although it only really gets underway in September, tropical monsoons hit most of the country.

Location on Google Maps

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How to get there?

1. By plane
• The main international airports in Thailand are at Bangkok and Phuket.
• Both are well-served by intercontinental flights.
• Practically every airline that flies to Asia also flies into Bangkok.
• International airports are also located at Hat Yai, Krabi, Koh Samui and Chiang Mai.
• Kuala Lumpur and Singapore make excellent places to catch flights into these smaller Thai cities.
• The national carrier is the well-regarded THAI Airways with Bangkok Airways filling in some gaps in the nearby region.
• Bangkok Airways offers free internet access while you wait for boarding to start at your gate.
• Chartered flights from and to Thailand from international destinations are operated by Hi Flying group.
• They fly to Bangkok, Phuket, Koh Samui and Udon Thani.

2. By Road
Cambodia – six international border crossings.
Laos – The busiest border crossing is at the Friendship Bridge across the Mekong between Nong Khai and the Lao capital Vientiane.
It’s also possible to cross the Mekong at Chiang Khong / Huay Xai, Nakhon Phanom /Tha Khaek, Mukdahan / Savannakhet, and elsewhere.
Vientiane / Udon Thani: A bus service runs from the Morning Market bus station in Vientiane to the bus station in Udon Thani. The cost is 80 Baht or 22,000 Kip and the journey takes two hours. The Udon Thani airport is 30 minutes by Tuk Tuk from the bus station and is served by Thai Airways, Nok Air and Air Asia.
• Malaysia and Singapore – driving up is entirely possible. Main crossings between Thailand and Malaysia are Padang Besar (Padang Besar) and Sadao (Bukit Kayu Hitam) in Songkhla province, Betong in Yala province, and Sungai Kolok in Narathiwat province. There are regular buses from Singapore to the southern hub of Hat Yai.

3. By Train
Thailand’s sole international train service links to Butterworth (near Penang) and Kuala Lumpur in Malaysia, continuing all the way to Singapore.

4. By Ferry
• It is possible to travel by ferries in high season (Nov-May) from Phuket and island hop your way down the coast all the way to Indonesia.
• This can now be done without ever touching the mainland, Phuket (Thailand) to Padang (Indonesia). Islands en route:
– Ko Phi Phi
– Ko Lanta
– Ko Ngai
– Ko Mook
– Ko Bulon
– Ko Lipe
– Langkawi
– Penang

Some Travel Books about Thailand

Lonely Planet Discover Thailand Thailand PhotoMazing Thailand

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