Wednesday, 2 June 2010

History of Muay Thai

The Thonburi period extended from B.E. 2310-2324 (1767-1781 CE). It was a period of reconstruction after the restoration of peace in the Kingdom. MuayThai training was primarily for man-to-man conflict during wars and or military service.
The arrangement of competitive boxing bouts during that period involved the matching of different training camps, usually from remote areas of the country. There is no evidence of rules or regulations, and it is thought that boxers fought without any official points system. So, they would fight until one dropped or gave up, leaving the man standing as the obvious winner.
Bouts took place on open grounds, mostly in temple areas. Boxers wrapped their hands and wrists in thread, wore a head band or mongkon, and an amulet or pa-pra-jiat usually around their right arm.

MuayThai in Ratanakosin Period

The first era of this period encompasses the rule of King Rama I to King Rama IV (B.E. 2325-2411, 1782-1868 CE). At this time, MuayThai was considered the national fighting art. It was an essential part of every festival.
Eventually, it was decided that rules and regulations were necessary, especially regarding the length of rounds. An intriguing method of timekeeping was then developed. A coconut shell would have a hole punched in it and be floated in a water tank. When the coconut shell sank, a drum signaled the end of the round. There was no limit to the number of rounds, so the boxers fought until there was a clear winner or until one of them gave up.

King Rama I Period
Pra Puttha Yord Fa Chula Loke, The Great (B.E. 2325-2352, 1782-1809 CE)

King Rama I, himself, trained as a boxer from a very early age. He expressed keen interest in, and often watched, boxing matches. In B.E. 2331 (1788 CE), two foreigners, brothers who traveled around the world trading goods, arrived in Bangkok. The younger of the two proved to be quite a good boxer and won prizes from matches around the world quite often. He told Pra Ya Pra Klang that he wanted to fight for prizes against Thai boxers. This request was relayed to King Rama I and, after consulting with Pra Raja Wangboworn, the Director of the Boxing Department, a bet of 50 changs (4,000 Baht) was agreed upon. Pra Raja Wangboworn selected a good boxer named Muen Han to fight the foreigner in a ring set up behind the Temple of the Emerald Buddha at the Grand Palace. It was 20 by 20 meters square and there was a reception area set up nearby. The fight was not to be scored, but to continue until a decisive winner emerged. Before the fight, Muen Han was oiled with herbal ointment, and he wore amulets on his upper arms. He was then carried to the ring on the shoulders of a friend.
When the fight began, it was clear that the foreigner was much heavier, taller, and stronger than Muen Han. When the foreigner got in close he employed wresting tactics to try to break the Thai boxer’s neck and collarbone. To counter these tactics, Muen Han tried kicking and using stepping kicks. He tried to control the fight and his footwork was very quick. Eventually, the foreigner began to tire and it seemed he was going to lose. His brother, realizing this, jumped into the ring to help his younger brother. This caused a riot to break out among the spectators. Many foreigners were injured. The two brothers, after recovering from their injuries, left Thailand.

King Rama II Period
King Pra Buddha Lert La Napa-Lai (B.E. 2352-2367, 1809-1824 CE)

While young, this King trained as a boxer at Bang Wa Yai Training Center (Wat Rakangkositaram) with the boxing master, and army general, Somdet Prawanarat (Tong You). At age 16, he learned more about MuayThai from the Boxing Department. He changed the sport’s name from its previous name, Ram Mad Ram Muay, to MuayThai.

King Rama III Period
King Pra Nangklao (B.E. 2367-2394, 1824-1851 CE)

King Rama III learned MuayThai from the Boxing Department. During his reign, Thai boys loved to fight, and they learned MuayThai and the sword of Khun Ying Moe. Khun Ying Moe is renowned for leading many brave women to defeat the invading soldiers of Prince Anuwong from Vientienne, Laos, who were attacking the city of Korat.

King Rama IV Period
King Chomklao (B.E. 2394-2411, 1851-1868 CE)

When young, King Rama IV loved to dress himself up as a boxer. He also loved sword and pole fighting. Often, he would box and compete in sword and pole fighting during festivals in the grounds of the Temple of the Emerald Buddha. During this time, Thailand saw the growth of western sports and culture. However, MuayThai remained a popular activity and a strong symbol of Thai culture.

King Rama V Period
King Chulachomklao (B.E. 2411-2453, 1868-1910 CE)

King Rama V learned MuayThai from the Boxing Department with boxing master Luang Pola Yotanuyoke. The King loved MuayThai and loved watching boxing matches. From time to time he would order Royal officers to arrange for good boxers to fight for him. Such tournaments were used to recruit men for His Majesty the King’s Royal Guards.
King Rama V recognized the value of MuayThai. In order to promote interest in Thai sports, the King encouraged MuayThai tournaments. He also encouraged the promotion of Muay Luang, or royal boxing centers to train youngsters. These Muay Luang also organized and controlled MuayThai tournaments. The royal office would also send official invitations to the heads of Muay Luang inviting their boxers to participate in particular events and festivals. Winners at such events were promoted by His Majesty the King to a position callen ‘Muen’, or first-rank officer.
In B.E. 2430 (1887 CE), King Rama V established the Department of Education. MuayThai was a subject in the curriculum of the physical education teacher’s training school and at Prachufachomktao Royal Military Cadet School. This period is considered the golden age of MuayThai.

King Rama VI Period
King Mongkhut Klao Chao Yu Hua (B.E. 2453-2468, 1910-1925 CE)

During this period, Thailand went to World War I. The Thai army was stationed in France with General Praya Dhepasadin as Commander. He loved MuayThai and he organized a bout to entertain the European servicemen and laymen. They enjoyed the bout very much and thus was born European interest in MuayThai.
In B.E. 2464 (1921 AD), after the war, the first permanent boxing stadium was built on the football ground at Suan Khulab School. It was named the Suan Khulab Boxing Stadium. At first, spectators would sit or stand around the ring.
The ring itself was a square, 26 meters by 26 meters. Boxers wrapped their hands with cotton threads, wore a head band or mongkon, and an amulet or pa-pra-jiat around their upper arms. They wore shorts with a protective cup and their waists were belted by a long piece of cloth. They wore neither a shirt nor shoes. The referee would wear an old style Thai dress uniform with a royal white shirt and white socks.
One great fight from this period was between Muen Mad Man, aged 50, and Nai Pong Prabsabod, a tall man aged 22 who came from Korat. The younger man fought to avenge the death of his father who was killed in a bout with Muen Mad Man that took place at the funeral of Khun Marupongsiripat. Two minutes into the grudge match, Muen Mad Man was knocked out by Nai Pong. The spectators became very excited and went mad trying to congratulate Nai Pong. It took some time for the situation to calm down.
This kind of scene was clearly a problem and a committee was set up to solve it. Finally, it was decided that the ring should be raised to a height of four feet above the ground, be covered with grass mats tied together, and surrounded by a 1 inch think rope. There was to be a space for each boxer to enter the ring near its corner. The referee began wearing a full scouting uniform and there was now a time keeper with two watches. A drum was used as the round signal and a match was established at 11 rounds of three minutes each. Boxers were to break when the referee so ordered, and it was now forbidden to bite one’s opponent or to attack him while he is falling. Boxers had to go to a neutral corner when their opponent fell down. Music for the fights was played by the orchestra of Muen Samak Siangprachit.

King Rama VII Period
King Pok Klaochao Yu Hua (B.E. 2468-2477, 1925-1934 CE)

General Dhepasadin built a boxing stadium called Lak Muang at Tachang (near the present day National Theatre). The ring rope was thicker and tighter and without a space to protect the boxers. Bouts were organized regularly.
In B.E. 2472 (1929 CE) governmental orders required all boxers to wear boxing gloves. Boxing gloves were introduced to Thailand by a Philippine boxer who came to Thailand for an international boxing match. Prior to the introduction of boxing gloves there was a tragic and fatal accident when Nai Pae Liangprasert from Ta Sao, Uttaradit province, killed Nai Jia Kakamen in a boxing match which was fought in the Kad-Chuck style where boxers’ hands were wrapped in cotton strips.
In November B.E. 2472 (1929 CE) Chao Khun Katatorabodee first organized a boxing bout along with other festivities at a fun park in Lumpini Park. He chose only good boxers to fight every Saturday. An educated and worldly man, he built an international standard boxing ring with three ropes and a canvas floor. There were red and blue corners, two judges, and a referee in the ring. It was here that a bell was first used as the round signal.
To celebrate on New Year’s Eve of that year, a match was scheduled between Samarn Dilokwilas and Det Poopinyae, accompanied by a special bout between Nai Air Muangdee and Nai Suwan Niwasawat. Nai Air Muangdee was the first boxer to use a metal protective cup. It has since been in general use.

King Rama VIII Period
King Ananddhamahidol (B.E. 2477-2489, 1934-1946 CE)

Between B.E. 2478-2484 (1935-1941 CE), a rich and well-known man built a boxing stadium on Chao Chate’s ground. It was called Suan Chao Chate Boxing Stadium. At present it is the Department of Reserved Officers Training Corps.
The stadium was run by military personnel and it did very good business. Some of the income was donated to support military activities. After several years, the Second World War broke out. At that time the boxing stadium was closed. Japanese troops arrived in Thailand on December 8 B.E. 2484 (1941 CE).
From B.E. 2485-2487 (1942-1944 CE), while the war was still going on, boxing bouts were organized in movie theaters during the daytime. There were boxing stadiums at Patanakarn, Ta Prachan, and Wongwian Yai where the public could be entertained.
On the 23rd of December, B.E. 2488 (1945 CE), Ratchadamnern boxing Stadium was opened officially. Mr. Pramote Puengsoonthorn was its chairman and Praya Chindharak was its administrator. The promoter was Mr. Chit Ampolsin (Kru Chit). Bouts were organized every Sunday from 4 to 7 p.m. The rules were those of the Department of Physical Education. Bouts were five three-minute rounds in length, with two minutes rest between rounds. The boxers were weighed by stone. Two years later, weight was measured in kilograms, and in B.E. 2491 (1948 CE) pounds were adopted as the measure of a boxer’s weight so as to be in accord with international standards. Divisions were assigned by weight, for example, not over 112 pounds. International names were given for each weight group, such as flyweight, and bantamweight. Matches were arranged to select a champion for each class, following the international style. Many additions have been made to the regulations of Muay Thai. It is forbidden now to hit the private parts since this technique has become quite infamous as a form of attack and is considered debasing for the fine art of Thai boxing.
Muay Thai remains a national art form. If all parties concerned help to uplift and conserve this form of martial arts, and pass it onto following generations, it will remain a valuable possession of the Thai nation.

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