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Muay Thai Thai Boxing
Muay Thai has a long history in Thailand. Traditional Muay Thai, as it is practiced today, varies slightly from the original art and uses kicks and punches in a ring with gloves similar to those used in Western boxing. Muay Thai is referred to as "The Science of Eight Limbs", as the hands, shins, elbows, and knees are all used extensively in this art. A master practitioner of Muay Thai thus has the ability to execute strikes using eight "points of contact," as opposed to "two points" (fists) in Western boxing and "four points" (fists, feet) used in the primarily sport-oriented forms of martial arts. Muay Thai is an especially versatile, brutal, straightforward martial art.
Even before entering the ring many fighters perform rituals. Some may kneel before the ring; others might pray with their coach or by themselves or perform a series of repetitive movements, such as touching the ring ropes 3 times. Thai boxers always climb over the top rope when entering the ring, because in Thai culture the head is considered to be more important than the feet, which are thought to be dirty. It is therefore important to always have the head above the feet while entering the ring. Once in the ring, a fighter might go to the center and bow to each side.
Now begins the Wai Kru (showing respect to the teacher / trainer) ritual. The Wai Kru usually starts with the fighter walking around the ring, counter-clockwise. This could be described as "sealing the ring", showing that the match is between only these two combatants. The ritual is both practical and spiritual. In a practical sense, it prepares the body for combat. During the Wai Kru there are many different movements and steps that a fighter might perform before the match, along with stretches. Some motions imitate, for example, a swallow, a hunter, a soldier or an executioner. Some fighters use this ritual to attempt to scare their opponents, commonly by stomping around them. But in a deeper sense, the fighter is expressing religious devotion, humility and gratitude. Transcending both physical and temporal limitations, he opens himself to the divine presence and allows it to infuse his heart and soul. In ancient times, the ritual was intended to show devotion to the King and the fighter's mentor. Today, that devotion is given to the organizer of the match and the fighter's trainer. The ritual also gives the fighter some time alone before the fight to collect his thoughts and concentrate on the task ahead.
After this dance, the fighter walks over to his coach who removes the Mongkon and the Pong Malai. The match begins after a review of the rules by the judge and a glove shake.
Techniques: The basic techniques in Muay Thai use fists, elbows, shins, feet, and knees to strike the opponent. Muay Thai is often a fighting art of attrition, where opponents exchange blows with one another. This is certainly the case with traditional stylists in Thailand, but is a less popular form of fighting in the contemporary world fighting circuit. With the success of Muay Thai in mixed martial arts fighting, it has become the de facto martial art of choice for competitive stand-up fighters. As a result, it has evolved accordingly and incorporated much more powerful hand striking techniques used in western style boxing, and the Thai style of exchanging blow for blow is no longer favorable. Almost all techniques in Muay Thai use the entire body movement, rotating the hip with each kick, punch, and block. The rotation of the hips in Muay Thai techniques, and intensive focus on "core muscles" (such as abdominal muscles and surrounding muscles) is very distinctive and is what sets Muay Thai apart from other styles of martial arts.
Training: Training that is specific to a Muay Thai fighter includes training with coaches on Thai pads, focus mitts, heavy bag, and sparring. The daily training includes many rounds (3-5 minute periods broken up by a short rest, often 1-2 minutes) of these various methods of practice. Thai pad training is a cornerstone of Muay Thai conditioning which involves practicing punches, kicks, knees, and elbow strikes with a trainer wearing thick pads which cover the forearms and hands. These special pads are used to absorb the impact of the fighters strikes, and allow the fighter to react to the attacks of the pad holder. The trainer will often also wear a belly pad around the abdominal area so that the fighter can attack with straight kicks to the body at anytime during the round.
Due to the rigorous fighting and training regimen (some Thai boxers fight almost every other week) professional Muay Thai fighters have relatively short careers in the ring. Many retire from competition to begin instructing the next generation of Thai fighters. Most professional Thai boxers come from the lower economic backgrounds and the fight money (after the other parties get their cut) is sought as means of support for the fighters and their families. Very few higher economic strata Thais join the professional Muay Thai ranks; they usually practice the sport as amateur Muay Thai boxers.
Venues: In Bangkok you can experience thaiboxing at two venues :
On Ratchadamnoen Nok Road which is open Monday and Wednesday at 6:00 P.M., Thursday at 5:00 P.M. and 9.00 P.M., and Sunday at 4:00 P.M. and 8:00 P.M.
Lumpini Stadium on Rama IV Road, it is open every Tuesday and Friday at 6:00 P.M., and Saturday at 5:00 P.M.