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The History of Muay Thai

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The History of Muay Thai

Muay Thai is a sport with a long and rich history. Often called “the art of eight limbs”, Muay Thai is a traditional martial art that uses punches, kicks, elbows, and knees to strike an opponent. This fighting style originated in Thailand over 2,000 years ago and was used as a form of self-defense and military training. Over the centuries, Muay Thai has evolved into the sport we know today and is practiced all over the world. Let’s take a look at the history of this fascinating sport.

Origins of Muay Thai

Muay Thai has its origins in Thailand’s medieval history. Around the 13th century, the Kingdom of Sukhothai was established. This was a time of great political and social upheaval in Thailand, as various factions fought for control of the country. In order to train their soldiers in hand-to-hand combat, the Sukhothai kings developed a system of close-combat known as muay boran. This early form of Muay Thai incorporated grappling and striking techniques from different martial arts such as krabi krabong and boxing.  


Over time, muay boran became more refined and developed into the organized sport we know today as Muay Thai. The first formal rules were established in the 19th century during the reign of King Rama V. These rules prohibited some of the more dangerous aspects of muay boran such as striking with hardened gloves or using headbutts. However, Muay Thai continued to be a brutal sport; fighters still wrapped their hands in hemp rope and covered them with resin for extra protection, and there were no weight classes or time limits on bouts. In addition, rounds were only ended if one fighter was knocked out or unable to continue fighting.

Evolution of Muay Thai

In 1921, representatives from various boxing associations from across Asia met in Bangkok to discuss standardizing rules for the sport. As a result of this meeting, Muay Thai began to follow many of the same rules as Western boxing such as using gloves, having 3-minute rounds with one minute rest periods in between, and prohibiting headbutts and groin strikes. In addition, weight classes were introduced so that fights could be more evenly matched. 

Although Western boxing influences led to changes in Muay Thai, the sport has retained its unique flavor. For example, Muay Thai fighters still perform the Wai Kru prior to each bout. This traditional dance is used to pay respects to the fighter’s teachers and ancestors; it also serves as a way to psych oneself up for battle! 

Today, Muay Thai is practiced all over the world both as a sport and as a form of self-defense. Although it has come a long way from its humble beginnings, Muay Thai continues to be a powerfully effective striking art that is enjoyed by people of all ages.


Muay Thai is an amazing sport with a long and fascinating history. What started out as a way for medieval soldiers to train for hand-to-hand combat has evolved into a widely popular sport that is enjoyed by people all over the world. Please check out some of the amazing Muay Thai items we stock here at Musclebound such as Muay Thai Boxing Gloves, Muay Thai Shorts, Muay Thai Shin Guards and many more items.


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