MUAY THAI - HISTORY

Thai Boxing Started in 1650 when King Naresuen of Siam was captured by the Burmese, he was offered freedom if he could defeat Burmese champions. He successfully defeated 12 of the finest Burmese boxers and became a national hero. This made Thai Boxing a national pastime. The actual origins may date back further but this is unknown due to the Burmese book burnings in 1776.

Thai Boxing is an adaptation of the Thai military arts. In peacetime the weapons of the battlefield were laid down and the soldiers would fight empty hand to keep their edge. At that time there were few rules, no rounds, and no weight classes. In this time period boxers fought barefooted, their fists and forearms wrapped in hemp rope and combat was extremely brutal. Training methods were vast and varied. Banana trees were kicked, kneed, and elbowed, softening the tree until it could be wrapped on the trainers arms for kicking. This is where the unique creation of the Thai pad got it's start.

Thai Boxing also find much of it's root's in Buddhism. People who see Thai Boxing for the first time often wonder about the pre-fight ritual that takes place before every authentic Thai fight. This ceremony called the "Ram Muay," is a spiritual ceremony which seals off the ring from outside influences, pays homage to gods, parents, teachers, loved ones, king and country. A great deal of significance is placed on the Ram Muay since it displays the spirit and heart of the fighter. Both the Ram Muay and the fight itself are accompanied by music from a four piece ensemble. The pace of the fight is often dictated by the music played on the side of the ring.

Because the Thais quickly adapt to anything which may give them an edge, Thai Boxing has evolved towards greater efficiency for centuries. Most recently they have adapted various Western Boxing techniques, training methods, and strategies to their already formidable tools. In the past 50 years Thai Boxing has enjoyed even greater popularity. Modern western style gloves, weight classes, and 3-minute rounds have been adopted. Because of the rigorous nature of it's testing ground and the directness of it's techniques, Thai Boxing and Thai Boxers are some of the most highly respected martial artists throughout the world.

Do not be fooled by inexperienced instructors that try to tell you that Thai boxing or Muay Thai are the same as kickboxing. This simply isn't true....

Both of the terms "Thai boxing" and "Muay thai" translate to the same Thai word of  มวยไทย. This word can be seen on Thai Boxing shorts all over the world

The term Thai Kickboxing however translates to the Thai phrase of คิกบ็อกซิ่งไทย which is never used anywhere in the sport of Thai Boxing.



 

SOME INTERESTING POLITICAL HISTORY.........

 

It is difficult to determine the type of culture which existed in Thailand before the Christian era, since no written records or chronologies exist. However, by the 6th century AD thriving agricultural communities were established from as far north as Lamphun to Pattani in Southern Thailand. Theravada Buddhism was flourishing, and probably entered the region around the 2nd or 3rd centuries BC when Indian missionaries were said to have been sent to a land called "Suvarnabhumi". (An area comprising Burma, Central Thailand and Cambodia).

The Dvaravati period, a loose collection of city states, centred around the Nakhon Pathom area, and lasted until the 11th century when it quickly declined under the political domination of invading Khmers.

 


Bridge over the river Kwai

During the 13th century several Thai principalities in the Mekong valley united and took Haripunchai from the Mons and the Sukhothai area from the Khmers. The Sukhothai kingdom declared its independence in 1238 and quickly began to expand. At its height the kingdom stretched from Nakhon Si Thammarat in the south to Vientiane in Laos, and Pegu in Burma. Sukhothai is considered by most Thai historians to be the first true Thai kingdom. King Rham Khamhaeng, the second king of the Sukhothai era, organised a system of writing which became the basis for modern Thai. He also codified the Thai form of Theravada Buddhism.

 

Hill tribe village in Northern Thailand
During the 14th and 15th centuries the Thai kings of Ayuthaya became very powerful and began to expand their kingdom eastward until they took Angkor from the Khmers in 1431. By the mid-16th century Ayuthaya and the independent kingdom of Chiang Mai had came under the control of the Burmese, but the Thais regained control of both areas by the end of the century.

Burma again invaded Ayuthaya in 1765 and fought a fierce battle with the Thais for two years before gaining control of the capital. During the process the Burmese destroyed large numbers of manuscripts, religious sculptures, and many temples.

 

The Burmese made no further inroads into Thailand and, in 1769, a new Thai capital was established at Thonburi, on the banks of the Chao Phraya river opposite Bangkok, by general Phya Taksin. The Thais quickly regained control of their country and began to further unite the provinces in the north and south of the country.

 
In 1782 king Rama I was crowned. He moved the capital across the river to Bangkok, and ruled as the first king of the Chakri dynasty. In 1809 Rama II, son of Rama I, took the throne and ruled until 1824. King Rama III (1824-1851) began to develop trade with China and increase domestic agricultural production.

When king Mongkut (Rama IV) took the throne in 1851 he quickly established diplomatic relations with European nations, while at the same time astutely avoiding colonisation. He also began a period of trade reform and modernisation of the Thai education system. His son, King Chulalongkorn (Rama V 1868-1910, also see picture), continued this tradition with the modernisation of the legal and administrative systems, and the construction of railways. During his 15 year reign from 1910 to 1925 king Vajiravudha (Rama VI) introduced compulsory education and other reforms.

In 1925 the brother of king Vajiravudha, king Prajadhipok (Rama VII 1925-1935) ascended the throne. Seven years later a group of Thai students living in Paris mounted a successful bloodless coup d'etat which led to the establishment of a constitutional monarchy similar to that which existed in Britain. A key military leader in the coup, Phibul Songkhram, took power and maintained control until after the end or WW II. Rama VIII, Ananda Mahidol, became king in 1935 but was assassinated in rather mysterious circumstances in 1946. He was succeeded by his younger brother Bhumipol Aduldej who became Rama IX. His Majesty King Bhumipol Adujdej remains on the throne today, and he commands great respect in both Thailand and throughout the rest of the world.

Today Thailand has a democratic government led by Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, who was elected in January 2001. He has taken over from Chuan Leekpai, who has put the first steps towards economic recovery after the crisis. Thaksins party, Thai Rak Thai ( Thai love Thai), has proposed a rather radical strategy for economic recovery. In the next few years we will see if this proves successful.


Statue of King Chulalongkorn

Thailand's Prehistory

Tens of thousand years ago, this land was covered with lush tropical rain forests. The fertile land, temperate climatic conditions, abundant natural resources attracted early settlers and migrants throughout the subsequent periods, even up to the present. Rich cultures amalgamated into distinct life styles. Emerging out of a thousand years of consciously striving for unity were the Thai people. City states soon unified into an independent kingdom. Emergent also was a distinct culture known as Thai.

Stone tools and implements of prehistoric man dating to the Palaeolithic Period have been found throughout this country. Over 10,000 years ago, man lived near the waterways in the north and central Thailand. Archaeological evidence of Neolithic settlements has been discovered in an area covering no less than 40 provinces. They include tools and decorative objects made of flint, bone and shells. Primitive paintings dating to this period exist in a number of caves. Metal works, both bronze and iron, appeared almost simultaneously some 2,700 years ago.

A part of prehistory in Thailand has become a subject for intensive study shedding new light on the evolution of man in southeast Asia. "Ban Chiang" used to be the name of a small village in Udonthani Province. Since the discovery that this modern settlement had been founded on top of an area rich in prehistoric archaeological evidence, the name has become well known worldwide and synonymous with an important prehistoric culture.

Ancient Ban Chiang culture existed in scattered areas throughout the North-eastern region of Thailand. The people lived near water sources in dense forests. They gradually cleared the forest for settlements, They hunted with axes, spears, arrows, sling shots and fishing hooks. They cultivated rice in irrigated paddies and learnt to use buffaloes in farming. They wove cloth out of natural fibres and might have printed patterns on the fabric by using rollers. They made and wore decorative ornaments such as glass beads, earthenware amulets and bronze bangles. They made stylistic pottery which had applied or hand painted decorations both for household use and for ritualistic burial. They became proficient metal workers quite early in prehistory, and discovered the use of iron almost contemporaneous with bronze.

The Ban Chiang people believed in the afterlife. They buried the dead accompanied with personal belongings, perhaps insignia of rank, containers of food and other burial goods. Theirs was a structured society which existed for thousands of years until unknown causes disrupted their stable existence. There is no historical evidence of a direct link with the inhabitants of modern Ban Chiang. who are said to have migrated into the area from Laos some 200 years ago. Nevertheless, certain aspects of the contemporary lifestyle indicate some heritage from the past. However vague this link may be, modern Ban Chiang has benefited from the fame of the ancient people.

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