Vicious kicks using the shins. Destructive knee strikes. Powerful elbow strikes to the head. This description of combat is linked to one of the most popular martial arts in the United States and the world. Its effectiveness has made it useful to military forces, police and for people who want to use it for self-defense. With the rise of mixed martial arts, it has become just as popular as Western boxing, despite this, many people know very little about the origins of Muay Thai.
Since its inception, Thai boxing was developed to use the entire body as a weapon. Muay Thai is commonly known as "The Art of Eight Limbs." Using the hands, forearms, shins, elbow, legs, and knees. In addition, grappling was added, to take an opponent to the ground.
Initially, Thai boxing was used by the military in the 13th century. The martial art was used by the army and eventually learned by common people. Thailand was constantly at war with Cambodia and Burma and as a result, martial training became a core component of society. Muay Thai developed and reached significant prominence in the 16th and 17th century, under King Naresuan. This king loved Muay Thai and was fond of fighting tournaments.
Muay Thai boxing has been deeply attached to the monarchy in Thailand. Many kings would study Muay Thai boxing and one named King Prachao Sua would often travel to villages disguised as a commoner so he could engage in combat with those who practiced. In the 19th century, King Rama often organized Muay Thai tournaments.
Thai Boxing got its exposure during World War I. Thai soldiers who were stationed in France, had the opportunity to put on exhibition matches. During this time, the French got their first exposure to the ferocious boxing style. In the early 1900s, it became more popular in the West. Many Thai fighters begin fighting as early as 6 years of age.