For all their reputation of being a warm and welcoming society, the Thais are also famous for their martial arts. Developed over the course of Thailand’s history where they had to continuously fight for their land to defend themselves against any invaders that tried to overpower them.
Six main martial arts were employed during this tumultuous period that is associated with Thailand and almost all techniques of Thai boxing were developed as close quarter combat styles.
Muay Boran includes all ancient styles of unarmed Siamese martial arts such as Muay Chaiya, Muay Korat, and Muay Tasao. Prior to the introduction of modern equipment and styles, all Thai martial arts were a part of this style. All ancient styles have their own stances, blocks, and punches. While Muay Thai is considered the eight-limb sport, Muay Boran is considered a nine-limb boxing style as it employs the head as a weapon in addition to the eight-limbs.
While Muay Thai is the martial art that we all associate with Thailand, Muay Chaiya is comparatively older and more technique oriented as opposed to the brute force approach of Muay Thai. Typically what is taught when you start training with Muay Chaiya is movement, it is the essence of this martial art. Muay Chaiya is not so much about strength as it is about technique, and is mainly practised as an exercise by the locals. The fighting techniques are very diverse from the other martial art forms practised within Thailand.
Taught and used by the Royal army, Lerdrit is a fighting style derived from Muay Boran. A variety of techniques were hand-picked from the vast accumulation of techniques in Muay Boran, that were considered most effective and adapted to close quarter combat. Lerdrit is slowly gaining popularity over in Europe, owing to tours conducted by the professionals of the sport.
Slightly weapon oriented, this martial arts is said to have been mastered by the royal bodyguard corps of King Rama IX. The name of this system is a reference to the main weapons that are used, Krabi (a sword) and Krabong (a staff).
Silat Pattani is said to have originated from the Pattani kingdom, now a state of Thailand. Its origin is attributed to Pandita Guru, the youngest of the three brothers who had been trained to be warriors. They crossed a bloody battle while they were heading north to attain Moksha (enlightenment) as directed by their master. The youngest escaped into a forest upon being wounded and began to incorporate the trait of animals in his fighting technique and Silat Pattani was born. There are five basic animal forms that he focused on- deer, monkey, snake, bird, tiger, and dragon.
The two main philosophies that Silat Pattani revolves around are Jantan Betina, which is similar to the Chinese yin-yang and panchabhuta, the five elements that humans are believed to be made of according to Malay philosophy.
Considered as the national sport of Thailand, Muay Thai employs a technique that was part of the basic training of the Thai army. This technique is also used in many tournaments and competitions around the world. Find out more about Muay Thai in our in-depth article here.
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