History of Muay Thai
Various forms of kickboxing have long been practiced throughout Southeast Asia. Muay Thai or Thai Boxing can be traced back several hundred years to its ancestor Muay Boran which was used by Siamese military fighters in battle. This form of unarmed combat utilized the hands, elbows, knees and shins and was hence referred to as the “Art of Eight Limbs”. This effectively gave the practitioner the ability to debilitate opponents with any combination of the eight limbs.
As time progressed the practice of Muay Thai was later kept up largely by Buddhist monks who were the keepers and teachers of all arts both practical and spiritual. As most Thai men lived as a monk at least once in their life they were exposed to the art and its popularity grew among the common people. As well as continuing to function as a practical fighting technique for use in actual warfare, Muay Thai became a sport in which the opponents fought in front of spectators who went to watch for entertainment. These contests gradually became an integral part of local festivals and celebrations held at temples.
Muay Thai gradually became a possible means of personal advancement as the nobility increasingly chose skillful practitioners of the art and invited them to come to live in the Royal palace. Their job was to teach muay to the staff of the royal household, soldiers, princes and the king's personal guards.
The ascension of King Chulalongkorn (Rama V) to the throne in 1868 ushered in a Golden Age not only for the whole country of Thailand but for Muay Thai as well. The king himself took a great personal interest in the art of Muay Thai. The country was at peace and muay functioned as a means of physical exercise, self-defense, recreation, and personal advancement. Specific rules were established for the sport and fighters began to wear modern gloves to ensure safety.
Today Muay Thai continues to be a popular part of Thai culture. It is recognized as the national sport and is proudly practiced thought the country.
Muay Thai Training
Muay Thai has four distinct styles that are taught in different regions of the country. The northern style known as Muay Pra Nakorn emphasizes speed particularly in kicking. Because of its faster speed, it is also known as "Ling Lom" or windy monkey style. In the northeast there is Muay Korat which utilizes the fighter’s strength in all techniques. Muay Lopburi is taught in the center region and focuses on emphasized movements while Muay Chaiya is taught in the south and centers on posture and defense using more of the elbows and knees.
Although located on the island of Koh Phangan in the south of Thailand, at Kobra Stadium Master Kongpipop teaches the northern style of Thai boxing. Along with his techniques he instills the values of patience, personal discipline, confidence and respect for self and others. He believes that the fundamentals are the foundation for any great fighter and requires his students to master each step of training before proceeding to the next. Beginner students will focus on learning to use upper and lower body techniques. Once mastered the intermediate student will then learn to apply these basics to real fighting situations.