The Origins of Thai Boxing
Reprint fromMuay Thai: The Most Distinguished Art of Fighting
by Panya Kraitus and Dr. Pitisuk Kraitus
The Origins of Thai Boxing
by Panra Kratius & Dr. Pitisuk Kraitus
In the days when Thailand was in the process of forming and gathering strength, wars were perpetually being waged with neighboring countries. I could almost be said that the Thai national profession at the time was to prepare for conflict.
Attacks and invasions took place all the time. Combat methods differed from those used today primarily n that the weapons used were short-range ones. Spears, javelins, large, curved-bladed pikes called Khaw-ngao, ad even short wooden clubs, all of which, it should be remembered could only be used in hand-to-hand combat. Thus the earliest weapons, including natural weapons such as the fist, elbow and foot came into use in fighting enemies, and the systematized use of these natural weapons came to be called “Classical Thai Boxing”.
Thai boxing is a weapon that is always at the ready. It is the ancestor of all other types of weapons, and is superior to them all. Any combatant who doesn’t know how to use such natural weapons, even though he is skilled in the use of external and artificial weapons, will be at a disadvantage to the fighter who can use both. Phrayaa Phichai of the Broken Sword, otherwise known as Thongdii Fankhao, is an example of such a warrior. When still a child he loved to practice boxing and was always running away from his parents to train and improve himself in the art. Later, after he had risen to the estate of a brave and triumphant fighter uner the reign of King Taskin, he was the commander-in-chief of the army who led the common people in bravely resisting the enemy without giving thought to the possibility of his own death. For love of his country he pushed fiercely forward in battle until his sword broke. Throwing it down he continued the fight with his fists, knees and elbows. Because of his knowledge of Thai boxing, he came out of the battle alive and victorious.
Thai boxing has been studied regularly by soldiers since early times. Whether in times of war, when it was necessary to confront enemies, or in peaceful times, when emphasis was placed on preparation, self-defense techniques have always been of great importance to military leaders and to the monarchy. This is because, down through the ages, fighting wars has often come dow to hand-to-hand combat in which weapons and methods of combat change rapidly and unexpectedly until a winner and loser emerge.
Thai boxing is an art loved by Thai people in every stratum of society, including the nobility and royalty, who were not satisfied merely to watch but enjoyed participating in the sport. The historical chronicles of the Ayudhya Period, is described the reign of Phra Sanphetch VIII, who was called Khun Luang Sarasak, a title known to the commoners as Phra Chao Suua, or “Lord of the Tigers”. He would be so keen on Thai boxing that h would often disguise himself in order to participate in matches lowering himself to fight with commoners in order to preserve the tradition-a [sic] remarkable act considering the intense reverence with which Thais regard heir monarch, and the usually uncrossable barrier this put in the way of their physical interaction.