Thaiboxing in Frankfurt
Thaiboxing is a combat sport (martial art) that has been developed in Thailand. It is known also as “the art of all the members”, because the hands, the feet, the elbows and the knees are used very much. Similar martial arts exist in Cambodia, Laos, Burma and Malaysia. In the competition, the high kicks in the head can seem to make a stronger effect. In spite of this, the persons with special skills and knowledge of this sport declare that the low kicks, the elbows, an the knees are more causing destruction for the persons who fight. A person, who takes part in the competition, does the long ceremony and the act established by custom before the fight. They exist for religious reasons and they serve as stretching the muscles and as preparation. The training for Thaiboxing is known for its being strong and its firmness. It aims to harden the eight members of the body, so that being hit with the shinbone of the Thai boxer is often compared to being hit with a baseball stick. The Thai boxers usually kick with the shinbone instead of with the foot. Thaiboxing has influenced a lot on developing of Kickboxing which afterwards has been created in Japan, in Europe, and in North America. Almost every act of moving in Thaiboxing use the whole body, while turning the hip to every kick and every blow with the fist. As a result, the attacks and the defence in Thai boxing are slower but more powerful for example than those of boxing or of karate.
Various forms of Kickboxing have long been practiced throughout mainland Southeast Asia. Based on a combination of Chinese and Indian martial arts, practitioners claim they date back two thousand years. In Thailand, Muay Thai evolved from Muay Boran (ancient Boxing), an unarmed combat method which would probably have been used by Siamese soldiers after losing their weapons in battle. Some believe that the ancient Siamese military created Muay Thai from the weapon-based art of Krabi Krabong but others contend that the two were merely developed alongside each other. Krabi Krabong nevertheless was an important influence on Muay Thai as can be seen in several kicks, holds and the movements in the Wai Khru which have their origins in armed combat. Muay Boran, and therefore Muay Thai, was originally called dhoi muay or simply muay. As well as being a practical fighting technique for use in actual warfare, muay became a sport in which the opponents fought in front of spectators who went to watch for entertainment. These muay contests gradually became an integral part of local festivals and celebrations, especially those held at temples. It was even used as entertainment for kings. Eventually, the previously bare-fisted fighters started wearing lengths of hemp rope around their hands and forearms. This type of match was called Muay Kaad Cheuk. Muay gradually became a possible means of personal advancement as the nobility increasingly esteemed skillful practitioners of the art and invited selected fighters to come to live in the royal palace to teach muay to the staff of the royal household, soldiers, princes or the king’s personal guards. This “royal muay” was called muay luang . Some time during the Ayutthaya period, a platoon of royal guards was established, whose duty was to protect king and the country. They were known as Grom Nak Muay (Muay Fighters’ Regiment). This royal patronage of muay continued through the reigns of Rama V and VII. The ascension of King Chulalongkorn (Rama V) to the throne in 1868 ushered in a golden age not only for muay but for the whole country of Thailand. Muay progressed greatly during the reign of Rama V as a direct result of the king’s personal interest in the art. The country was at peace and muay functioned as a means of physical exercise, self-defense, recreation, and personal advancement. Masters of the art began teaching Muay in training camps where students were provided with food and shelter. Trainees would be treated as one family and it was customary for students to adopt the camp’s name as their own surname. Scouts would be sent by the royal family to organise matches between different camps. King Rama the VII pushed for codified rules for Muay Thai, and they were put into place. Thailand’s first boxing ring was built in 1921 at Suan Kularp. Referees were introduced and rounds were now timed by clock. Fighters at the Lumpinee Boxing Stadium began wearing modern gloves during training and in Boxing matches against foreigners. Rope-binding was still used in fights between Thais but after the occurrence of a death in the ring, it was decided that fighters should wear gloves and cotton coverlets over the feet and ankles. It was also around this time that the term Muay Thai became commonly used while the older form of the style was referred to as Muay Boran. With the success of Muay Thai in the mixed martial arts, it has become the de facto style of choice for competitive stand-up fighters. As a result, western practitioners have incorporated much more powerful hand striking techniques from Boxing although some Thai purists accuse them of diluting the art. The most popular folklore regarding Muay Thai is that of Nai Khanom Tom. At the time of the fall of the ancient Siam capital of Ayutthaya in 1763, the invading Burmese troops rounded up a group of Thai residents and took them as prisoners. Among them were a large number of Thaiboxers, who were taken by the Burmese to the city of Ungwa. In 1774, in the Burmese city of Rangoon, the king of the Burmese, Hsinbyushin (known in Thai as “King Mangra”), decided to organize a seven-day, seven-night religious festival in honor of Buddha’s relics. The festivities included many forms of entertainment, such as the costume plays called likay, comedies and farces, and sword-fighting matches. At one point, King Hsinbyushin wanted to see how Muay Boran would compare to the Burmese art Lethwei. Nai Khanom Tom was selected to fight against the Burmese champion. The Boxing ring was set up in front of the throne and Nai Khanom Tom did a traditional Wai Kru pre-fight dance, to pay his respects to the Burmese king, as well as for all the spectators, dancing around his opponent, which amazed and perplexed all the Burmese people. When the fight began, he charged out, using punches, kicks, elbows, and knees, pummeling his opponent until he collapsed. The referee however stated that the Burmese opponent was too distracted by the Wai Kru, and the knockout was invalid. The King then asked if Nai Khanom Tom would fight nine other Burmese champions to prove himself. He agreed and fought them all, one after the other with no rest periods in between. His last opponent was a great Boxing teacher from Ya Kai City. Nai Khanom Tom mangled him by his kicks and no one else dared to challenge him any further. King Mangra was so impressed that he remarked, “Every part of the Thai is blessed with venom. Even with his bare hands, he can fell nine or ten opponents. But his Lord was incompetent and lost the country to the enemy. If he would have been any good, there was no way the City of Ayutthaya would ever have fallen.” King Mangra granted Nai Khanom Tom freedom along with either riches or two beautiful Burmese wives. Nai Khanom Tom chose the wives as he said that money was easier to find. He then departed with his wives for Siam. Other variations of this story had him also winning the release of his fellow Thai prisoners. His feat is celebrated every March 17 as “Boxer’s Day” or “National Muay Thai Day” in his honor and that of Muay Thai’s. Today, some have wrongly attributed the legend of “Nai Khanom Tom” to King Naresuan, who was once taken by the Burmese. However, Nai Khanom Tom and King Naresuan were almost two centuries apart.