Thai Boxing.

Undoubtedly Thai Boxing, known as : Muay Thai", has earned its reputation as one of most spectacularinthe world.

Thai boxing or Muay Thai, this sport developed long ago from combat training. It has become well known throughout the world, and foreigners who watch never cease to be amazed by the strange rules, or rather lack of rules. The boxers may use their fists for punching, their feet and knees for kicking or pushing, and their elbows for jabbing. They may strike any part of the opponent's body. This is a great refinement of the boxing that took place years ago. Then, there were no gloves, the boxers's hands and arms were bound with knotted starched cord, and there were even fewer rules. Now, it is less bloody.
Visitors to the Kingdom should not hesitate to witness the exotic Thai boxing, which heads other renowned self defence disciplines including Kung Fu, Taekwondo and Karate. Muay Thai is the home-grown martial art in which every part of the body including elbows, knees, feet and fists become weapons of combat and are all used to devastating effect.
This classic fighting technique dates back to the days when Siamese warriors fought against the Burmese and other Southern Asian enemies and was developed from the ancient martial art of double sword fighting by King Naresuan, the greatest warrior of the Ayutthaya period in 1584.
Whilst Muay Thai is no longer a close combat battlefield skill, it is a popular sport. Nevertheless it remains an old tradition and their original fighting spirit continues. Muay Thai is not just boxing, but has its own rituals. Traditionally, before starting, contestants perform a Boxing Dance (Ram Muay) to pay homage to their Muay Thai teacher (Wai Kru) in a prayer accompanied by Thai music. The musical instruments include a Java Pipe (Pi, which sounds like discordant bagpipes), two drums (glong chana) and a pair of cymbals (ching). The two contestants, kneeling with hands together, raise their head and bow to the floor three times to pay homeage to their teacher and to pray to the spirits for a victory and protection. Then they perform a strange "boxing dance" emulating their teachers's movements in time to the slow-tempo music. Some boxers tie amulets onto their upper arms. Each boxer wears a mongkon (sacred cord) in a loop on his head. These have been "consecrated" by his own teacher and are removed at the end of the rituals. The music continues during the match to encourage the boxers, but stops during rest periods.
Competitors wear proper boxing attire, either 'red' or 'blue', and enter the ring bare footed. Each hand has a 3 m bandage around the knuckles. Gloves are usually the international 6 ounce standard. The ring, 5 to 7 metres square and not more than 1.2 m above floor level is surrounded by three ropes. The floor is padded with soft material 4 cm thick and covered by canvas.
After a word from the referee, the contestants shake hands, the music quickers, and tension rises as the first round begins, Throughout the bout the drums beat faster and faster, and the Java pipe drones and wails with rising gusto, spurring on the already excited crowd who, in turn, shout vigorously at the boxers who pound and kick each other with ever-increasing frenzy. The boxzers, indefatigable, pour sweat and blood. About comprises five three minute rounds, separated by two minute rest periods.
One the most popular rings in Pattaya is at the Marine Bar, the venue being registered with the Thai Boxing Federation. (Boxing commences at 9 p.m.). In Bangkok, its famous stadiums are Lumphini and Rajadamnern. Lumphini stadium has matches on Tuesdays and Saturdays and Ratchadamnoen stadium on Sunday, Mondays and Wednesdays, both venues commencing their first bouts at 6 p.m..
You can buy the ticket at the entrance gate. There are three classes of tickets, Ratchadamnoen's prices are slightly inexpensive at the approximate rate of 220 baht for the third class, 440 baht for the second, 1,000 baht for ringside. (Prices are subject to change).
At the Lumpini stadium, there are 230 baht for the third class, 460 baht for the second, 900 baht for ringside. (Prices are subject to change).

Equipment used in Thai Boxing Match
Equipment that is necessary for Muay Thai matches must be provided by the stadium. There are a stopwatch, a signal gong, a warning bell, boxing gloves of various sizes according to the rules, equipment to provide water for boxers, and other additional personal accessories for boxers who have not prepared their own such as boxing shorts in red or blue, jock straps, surgical tape, or sacred cords.
Thai Boxing can be classified into two major types, the first is muay lak which puts the emphasis on caution and patience, and is very rare nowadays. Theo- ther is muay klew which is full of tricks and feints performed to catch the opponent off guard.

Basic rules of Thai boxing matches
* A 'Muay Thai' match formally have no more than 5 rounds, each round take 3 minutes to last, with a two-minute rest period in between. No additional rounds is allowed.
* Boxers must regulary wear gloves, each weighing not less than 6 ounces (172 grammes). The gloves must not be squeezed, kneaded or crushed to change its original shjape.
* Rules on contestants' boxing costumes.
- Contestants must wear only trunks (red or blue according to their corners) appropriately fit their bodies.
- Contestants must wear standard supporters or sturdy athletic cups to protect their groin. Gum shield may be used.
- Wear no shirts nor shoes, but ankle cap is permitted.
- A sacred cord know as Mongkol can be worn around the head only during the prefight ritual of paying homage to ancestral teachers of Muay Thai, to be removed before the start of the fight.
- Metal or other equipments that will be harmful to the opponent is prohibited.


From .... Thai Boxing home grown martial art. Guide to the east, September 1996, page 52-57.