They call Thai Boxing the art of eight limbs. When you break it all down, that's perhaps what makes this Thailand national sport so effective in combat. You see, it doesn't just focus on punches; nor does it simply focus on shin-connecting kicks. Rather, elbows, knees, and more are combined with the aforementioned with one idea in mind.

To defeat one's opponent.

Thai Boxing History

The history of the Asian martial arts styles are often difficult to uncover due to the sheer age of them and what can best be summarized as a lack of record keeping. Thai Boxing is no different in that regard. Some theorize that it came from China when the Tai people immigrated to the Southeastern portion of Asia. Others believe that it emanated from Khmer martial arts like Pradal Serey, and some of the similarities between the two fighting styles would seem to strengthen that argument. The most popular theory is that like most martial arts styles with a significant history, Thai Boxing was influenced by several factors including the Khmer or Cambodian martial arts styles, as well as those brought from China during immigration. Regardless, it is accepted that Thai Boxing emerged from an ancient Siamese or Thai fighting style called Muay Boran (ancient boxing), which was likely influenced by the aforementioned as well as Krabi Krabong (a weapons based Thai martial art).

What is certain is that during the early stages of Thai history there were a significant numbers of invaders which prompted the need for their people to learn how to defend themselves in hand-to-hand combat.

Thai Boxing The Sport

What at first was almost exclusively about self-defense, eventually morphed into a sport. Along with this, Thai Boxing competitions came to the forefront during the Sukothai era (1238-1377), a time when competitors began earning money for their fighting prowess. Initially, Thai boxers or competitors fought without the use of gloves (strictly a striking competition- no grappling). Strikes to the groin and headbutting were acceptable, weight classes were ignored, and the ring generally comprised wherever you were at the time. At some point, rounds came to be implemented. What's more, during the Sukothai era Thai Boxing became a way to impress the Thai nobility, which could lead to advancements in life.

Characteristics of Thai Boxing

Thai Boxing is primarily a hard, striking martial art where all eight limbs- shins, elbows, knees, and hands- are used to strike opponents. Today, the blocks and strikes of Thai Boxing are often seen in the kickboxing ring and/or MMA, a sport where Thai Boxing has become a staple of training.

One of the many things that sets Thai Boxing apart from other striking styles is the use of the clinch. Where many other styles such as Japanese kickboxing and western boxing separate fighters when they begin to grab one another inside, Thai Boxing welcomes this. Along with this, practitioners will oftentimes grab the back of their opponents' necks in such situations and utilize knee strikes to the midsection. Consistent and effective use of elbow strikes is also something that sets Thai Boxing apart from many other martial arts styles.