Muay Thai is a truly remarkable form of martial art, suitable for all ages and abilities. It is also sometimes called Thai Boxing by many authors. It promotes morale, discipline and spirituality, as well as physical well-being. The art of movement also has a significance in the sport, as when the fighters enter the stadium, they usually perform an introduction which resembles dancing. The fight itself also has music playing in the background, helping people focus and concentrate on the different moves and tasks. Muay Thai involves using the arms, feet, elbows, shin and knees. Therefore, it is fair to say that Muay Thai is a sport and art in one. It is also a good way of learning self-defense skills; for men, women and children.
Misconceptions about Muay Thai
The real techniques and skills of Muay Thai can only be learned from authentic trainers, and often there are courses promoting Thai Boxing training with different moves. These side branches of Muay Thai should not be called the real thing. Going back to the centuries old roots of the martial art developed in Thailand would be the best way to gain maximum benefits from the sport. Some people also think that Thai Box is originated from Kick-boxing. This is far from the truth. While Kickboxing originates from Japan and North America, the homeland of Muay Thai is in Thailand. It is true that masters over the centuries opened schools in Japan and other Asian countries, however, the cultural background of the sport is in Thailand itself. Some other people, who never tried martial arts fear that the sport would cause multiple injuries and it is indeed too aggressive. As Muay Thai focuses on defense skills, concentration and movement, this is not true either. It is not only about fighting; more like connecting with others, one’s self, listening to the body and getting more energy. Still, this form of martial art is great for building strength, improve balancing skills and even for losing weight.
Traditions of Muay Thai
One of the main aspects of Muay Thai is that it focuses on a deep and harmonious relationship between the master and the student. Also, the purpose of training is not to become fitter, stronger; one needs to go for the whole package. Masters do not train students who do not believe in the long term spiritual benefits of the martial art or the principles learned. The main principles include respecting one’s self, as well as other human beings. Indeed, the student-master relationship goes on even after the training is completed. And in Thailand, many students pay a visit to their former teachers even years after they finished their course. Muay Thai, indeed is a democratic martial art form, as the classes are available for everyone, independent of their social background or financial situation. The willingness to learn is more important than money for Thai masters.
Different Forms of Muay Thai
There are several traditions of Muay Thai; namely: Mong Kon, Pra Jiad, Ram Muay and Whai Khru. There are still some common principles of all traditions, including listening, respecting, accepting and effectively communicating with fellow students, masters and opponents alike. There are also different styles of Muay Thai developed throughout the centuries, and every competitive fighter would need to create their own personal approach as a part of the development process. When a teacher accepts a student, they become responsible for their spiritual, mental and physical development, just as if they were their father. They set individual challenges and put students into tests. The general principles are to control one’s negative thoughts and emotions; suppress anger and never use the student’s physical advantage to harm others, except for self-defense. Overcoming the ego is a route of spiritual development, taught by masters and teachers, alongside with movements and techniques.
The Rules of Muay Thai
There are some basic rules of fighting in Muay Thai, just like in many other forms of martial arts. There are some body parts which are forbidden to attack like genitals and eyes. Head-butts are also not allowed. Fighters who are already on the ground or injured should not be attacked, and in women’s competitions, the use of elbows is not permitted. The fighters usually wear boxing gloves, however, the improper execution of the techniques can still result in a few injuries, not more than in case of ball games.
Training for Muay Thai
Some people believe that students are made to train on trees. This might have been a case a couple of hundred years back, but today, that is not a form of teaching. Instead, professional masters use punching bags. Because there are different levels of training, anyone is able to start this martial art form; men, women or even children. There are even senior classes available for those who are looking to improve inside and in the body at an older age. As the risks of injuries and muscle strains are low, the classes are provided for anyone interested; provided that they are not solely looking for a form of exercise, and are open to the spiritual and mental benefits of the training. It is advisable that one would choose a teacher who completed a training in Thailand; one of the leading traditional schools, in order to ensure that they are taught the original principles and techniques.
The Significance of Muay Thai Today
Muay Thai is one of the fastest growing form of martial arts around the world. It is a competitive sport, and there are regional, national and international events organized around the sport every year. In Thailand, there are many festivals featuring the martial art in the program, even during small local celebrations. The Thai Government is looking to promote the spiritual and cultural side of the martial art and has put a lot of effort in this work. Due to the featuring of the sport in movies and international events, it is important to build upon the popularity of the martial art and communicate the heritage of the country through different programs.