Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Traditional Muay Thai has a long history in Thailand as a martial art used by the military. The military style of Muay Thai is called Lerdrit, while today's "sport Muay Thai" slightly varies from the original art and uses kicks and punches in a ring and with gloves similar to those used in boxing. Muay Thai is referred to as "The Science of Eight Limbs", as the hands, feet, elbows and knees are all used extensively in this art.
The basic offensive techniques in Muay Thai use hands, elbows, kicks and knees to strike the opponent. To bind the opponent for both offensive and defensive purposes, small amounts of stand-up grappling are used: the clinch. The clinch is applied by holding the opponent either around the neck or around the body. In Western Boxing, the two fighters are separated when they clinch. Defensively, the concept of "wall of defense" is used, in which shoulders, arms and legs are used to hinder the attacker from successfully executing his techniques. Because of the power involved with Muay Thai techniques, fighters do not often block strikes like in other martial arts. Fighters prefer to evade attacks by stepping out of range or moving toward their opponent in order to buffer techniques such as kicks.
Though the high kicks to the head appear spectacular during a competition, insiders of the sport claim that the elbows and the knees are most damaging -- sometimes deadly.
Two Muay Thai techniques became popular in other martial arts: The Thai low kick and the Thai roundhouse kick. The low kick uses a circular movement of the entire body to kick the opponent's leg with the upper part of the shin. When not correctly defended against, this technique often leads to the end of the fight, as the opponent can not stand anymore after a few low-kicks. The Thai roundhouse kick is also unique and was adapted for its efficiency. The kick is carried out with a straight leg and the entire body rotating from the hip, which is "locked" right before the leg makes contact to the opponent. At closer ranges, Thai boxers hit with the shin. At longer distances, the foot is the striking surface. Other martial arts, such as Shotokan Karate tend to prefer "snappy" kicks, which are faster but less powerful.
Almost all techniques in Muay Thai use the entire body movement, rotating the hip with each kick, punch and block. This results in most techniques being slower but more powerful than techniques from boxing or karate. The rotation of the hips in Muay Thai techniqes is very distinctive and is what sets Muay Thai apart from other styles.
During a competition, the participants perform a lengthy ritual and ceremony before the fight (wai khru ram muay). The ritual is both for religious reasons and as a stretching warmup.
The conditioning regimen in Muay Thai is legendary for its intensity and rigour. Its focus is on hardening the eight anatomical weapons in the Muay Thai arsenal to an incredible degree, so much so that getting hit with a shin kick from a Muay Thai fighter is often likened to being hit by a baseball bat.
A quite common, mistakenly held belief is that Muay Thai training includes special exercises for hardening shins and other body parts. In reality, Muay Thai training does not include any special hardening exercises in addition to heavy bag training.
Muay Thai heavily influenced the development of kickboxing, which was later created in Japan, Europe and North America.
In the last decade, Muay Thai has enjoyed a boost in popularity in the whole world as it turned out to be very effective in popular no holds barred events, such as Pride Fighting Championship and the UFC (Ultimate Fighting Championship) competitions. It is widely recognized that a combination of a grappling art, such as Judo or Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, with Muay Thai is very effective in such fights.
There exists a Malaysian derivative of Muay Thai known as tomoi that is practised primarily in northern Malaysia, in the states that share a border with Thailand. The ethnic Malays in southern Thailand also refer to Muay Thai as tomoi.
Recently the film Ong-Bak helped to popularize Muay Thai.
- Khmer Boxing
- Muay Boran
- Pradal Serey
- List of kickboxers
- Muaythai Online - worlds top muaythai portal.
- Martial Art FAQ entry on muay Thai details the history and current aspects of the sport
- Caledonian Muay Thai - Scottish muay Thai site
- House of Muay Thai - Canadian Muay Thai Organization
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