Monday, 31 May 2010

Muay Thai History

Muay Thai Chronology

MuayThai in the Sukhothai Era

Thailand’s capital was situated at Sukhothai from around the Buddhist years 1781-1951 (1238-1408 CE). Inscriptions in stone columns at Sukhothai indicate that Sukhothai fought with its neighbors quite often. Consequently, the city had to instill in her soldiers knowledge and skills concerning the use of weapons such as swords and spears, and also how to use the body as a weapon in situations of close person-to-person combat. Skills such as kicking, kneeing, punching, and elbowing were thus developed.
During peacetime, young men in Sukhothai practiced MuayThai to build character and their self-defense skills. These skills would serve them well during their time in the military and thus the practice of MuayThai became a good custom. MuayThai training centers arose around the city, for example, the Samakorn Training Center in Lopburi. Some were in temple areas where monks doubled as instructors.
During this period, MuayThai was considered a higher art and was a part of the royal curriculum. It was intended to develop good and brave warriors with great physical fitness into great and brave rulers. The first King of Sukhothai, Phokhun Sri In Tharatit, believed in the benefits of MuayThai so much that he sent his two sons to train MuayThai at the Samakorn Training Center to prepare them to take the throne. In B.E. 1818-1860 (1275-1317 CE) Phokhun Ram Khamhaeng wrote a war text that included the teachings of MuayThai as well as instruction in other fighting skills.

MuayThai in the Krungsri Ayutthaya Era

The Ayutthaya Era lasted from B.E. 1988-2310 (1445-1767 CE). This period was characterized by frequent wars between Thailand, Burma, and Cambodia. Therefore, young men had to prepare themselves by developing self-defense skills. These skills were taught by experienced masters. The training spread from the Royal Palace out to the public. The Phudaisawan Sword Training Center was very famous in that era, and it had many pupils. They were trained with wicker swords in the arts of sword and pole fighting. They were also trained to fight barehanded and thus learned MuayThai skills. In addition to fighting, such training centers also gave education in everyday matters.

King Naresuan The Great Era (B.E. 2133-2147, 1590-1604 CE)

King Naresuan would call for young men of his age to train with him. They were trained to be brave, self-confident warriors. They had to be skilful with all weapons and in boxing. King Naresuan set up the Scouting Corps to fight in guerrilla warfare. It was this Corps of soldiers that were able to free Thailand from Burma during this time.

King Narai The Great Era (B.E. 2147-2233, 1604-1690 CE)

During this period Thailand was very much at peace and there were many developments in the Kingdom. King Narai supported and promoted sports, especially MuayThai, which became a professional sport. At this time there were many boxing training centers. The boxing ring was set up in regular playgrounds where a rope would be laid out in a square shape to indicate the fighting area. Boxers wrapped their hands with threads that were dipped in thick starch or tar. This technique was called Kad-Chuck (wrapped with threads) or Muay Kad-Chuck (boxing with thread-wrapped hands). Boxers wore a head band, called the mongkon, and an amulet, or pa-pra-jiat, wrapped around their upper arms when they fought. Boxers did not fight according to weight, height, or age. The rules were simple: Fights lasted until there was a clear winner. Gambling accompanied the bouts. Villages would often challenge each other to boxing matches and boxing became an activity central to folk plays and festivals.

King Prachao Sua Era (B.E. 2240-2252, 1697-1709 CE)

King Prachao Sua, also known as the Tiger King as well as Khun Luang Sorasak, loved MuayThai very much. Once he went, dressed in plain clothes, to a district called Tambol Talad-guad with four royal guards. There he entered a boxing competition. The promoter did not recognize the King, but knew that the boxer came from Ayutthaya. He let the King fight against very good fighters from the town of Wisetchaichan. They were Nai Klan Madtai (killing fists), Nai Yai Madlek (iron fists), and Nai Lek Madnak (hard fists or punches). The Tiger King won all three fights. King Prachao Sua also trained his two sons, Prince Petch and Prince Porn, in MuayThai, sword fighting, and wrestling.
During the early part of the Ayutthaya period the Department of Royal Boxing was founded. One of its responsibilities was to recruit young talented boxers to fight for the King’s entertainment. The top boxers were chosen for the Royal Quarries, called Thani Lir (chosen guards). They were responsible for the security of the royal palace and the King at all times. These boxers were to become the boxing masters who trained the soldiers and the Princes.
In the later part of the Ayutthaya Period, after the second loss to Burma in B.E. 2310 (1767 CE), there was one boxer of note.

Nai Khanomtom

Nai Khanomtom was a prisoner of war captured by the Burmese when Ayutthaya was sacked for the second time in B.E. 2310 (1767 CE). In B.E. 2317 (1774 CE), the Burmese King, King Angwa, wanted to hold a celebration for the Great Pagoda in Rangoon. Boxing was included in the celebrations. Good Thai boxers were called on to fight with Burmese boxers. On the 17th of March of that year, Nai Khanomtom fought and defeated 10 Burmese boxers in succession with no rest period between fights. It was the first time that MuayThai was used in competition outside of Thailand. For his achievements, Nai Khanomtom was honored as the Father or MuayThai or the Inventor of MuayThai, and the 17th of March is now named MuayThai Day.

source: various sources

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