About Muay Boran
Muay Boran (translated into English as “ancient boxing”) is the term used to encompass the various styles of Thai martial arts before they were modernized in the early 20th century with the introduction of rules, western boxing rings and equipment. Muay boran utilizes all kinds of striking attacks as well as joint locks, throws and even ground grappling. Muay boran does not have one uniform style. Rather, each area of Thailand developed their own unique fighting style. For example the fighting style of Korat province in north eastern Thailand is known as “Muay Korat”, “Muay Lopburi” is a style from central Thailand and another style from north Thailand is called “Muay Thasao”. Perhaps the most famous style is “Muay Chaiya”, a southern style still taught to the Thai army to this day.
Muay boran was originally developed for self defence and also taught to the Thai military for use in warfare. Matches between exponents of the art then began to be held. These soon became an integral part of Thai culture with fights being held at festivals and fighters from the different areas of Thailand testing their styles against each other. Fighters began to wrap their hands and forearms in hemp rope which not only protected their fists from injury but also made their strikes more likely to cut an opponent. Muay boran fighters were highly respected and the best were enlisted into the King’s royal guard.
The most famous muay boran practitioner was Nai Khanomtom. In 1774 he fought the 10 best Burmese fighters one after the other, knocking them all out. During the 1920′s-30′s King Rama VII modernized the Thai martial arts competitions, introducing referees, boxing gloves, rounds and western boxing rings. Many of the traditional muay boran techniques were banned or were not practical with the addition of the new rules, and so muay boran went into decline.