Sitsiam Camp

History
of
Muay Thai

A Brief History and
Inspirational Figures:

Muay Thai History

An introduction to Muay Thai History by
 Kru Tony Moore


Muay Thai history can trace its origins back over 2000 years to the Ao Lai tribes who migrated from southern China. Settling on the central plains of Siam, known today as Thailand. It is difficult to prove conclusively when and where the art originated, because all records of Thai history were destroyed in the Ayuddhaya period.  As Burmese invaders ransacked the ancient capital. Thus,  Muay Thai history has been pieced together from remnants of information that escaped this destruction. Moreover this knowledge was passed down the generations by word of mouth from teacher to student.

Thai Boxing in Europe

During the mid 1970s, Muay Thai spread to Europe. The Europeans, contrary to the Americans, kept the name Muay Thai, translated as Thai Boxing, along with all the traditions, rituals, rules and regulations.

In January 1984 the World Muay Thai Association was founded in Amsterdam. Countries represented at the meeting to formalize this were Thailand, Netherlands, England, France, Italy, Norway, Sweden and Spain. Dutch representative, Mr. Thom Harinck later founded the European Muay Thai Association. Working in conjunction these associations were very successful in promoting the art of Muay Thai throughout Europe. As, for the first time, foreign boxers were allowed to compete in Thailand. Success followed success. Very soon it was not unusual to see Muay Thai fighters from all over the world training at the boxing camps in Thailand. Eventually fighting in the renowned Rajadamnern and Lumpini stadiums in Bangkok. Further developments in this fascinating martial art were soon to follow.

Amateur Muay Thai

In 1986 Mr Bunyuen Suvanatadha founded the Amateur Muay Thai Association of Thailand (AMTAT). Following this, the association expanded its interests to cover south-east Asia and then internationally with the formation of the International Federation of Muay Thai Amateurs (IFMA). The amateur system of Muay Thai requires boxers to wear body shields and head guards. Furthermore this safety precaution encouraged more people to take up the art because it made the sport very much safer for participants.

Although the Association had, for a number of years, organised the Princes' Cup competition for Thai competitors, equally important in 1994 an international event, the King’s Cup was organised. By the second King’s Cup event in 1997, there were no less than 25 nations taking part in the competition.

The first European Amateur Muay Thai Championship was held in Manchester, England in 1997 and was organised by the British Thai Boxing Council (BTBC). Eight European nations participated. Notably the Vice-President of the International Federation of Muay Thai Amateurs, Mr Bunyuen Suvanatadha himself as special guest was a very proud witness of this first, successful amateur Muay Thai event held outside of Thailand.

Today, professional and amateur Muay Thai associations co-exist in nearly every country throughout the world and many world governments have now accepted Muay Thai as a sport. In conclusion and of even greater importance is that Muay Thai has taken its rightful position as one of the world’s most respected martial arts.

Kru Tony Moore Muay Thai Book

King Naresuan

The Black Prince

King Naresuan the Great, ascended the throne of Siam in 1590 and reigned during the Ayuddhaya period. Formerly known popularly as the Black Prince, as a child he was captured by Burmese troops. As a result he was kept hostage until  the age of 16.
 In 1584 he returned to Siam renouncing allegiance to Burma on behalf of his father the King.
He was renowned for his bravery even prior to later freeing Siam from the chains of Burmese slavery. 

Maha Tammaraja.
The King of Burma took great exception to losing his Siamese provinces and sent an increasing number of soldiers to fight against the Siamese. Siam, under King Naresuan, defeated the Burmese in successive battles. Finally, an army of approximately 250,000 men was despatched from Burma to try to subdue Siam once and for all. History tells many tales of King Naresuan’s courage but perhaps the greatest feat of all was what happened in this final battle.

King Naresuan faced overwhelming odds as the Burmese army far outnumbered the Siamese forces. This great warrior mounted an armoured war elephant and charged through his army to the front line. Seeing the Crown Prince of Burma also seated on a war elephant, he challenged the Prince to single combat. After a fierce skirmish, the King cut the Crown Prince in half from shoulder to hip. The Burmese army seeing their leader slain, turned and fled back to Burma. Through this singular act of bravery, King Naresuan freed Siam forever.
Every year on 25th April the Thai people and all Thai Martial Arts schools around the world remember this great warrior King. Particularly the students of Buddhai Swan.
Thai King Naresuan

King Taksin

King Taksin the Great

King Taksin the Great ruled from 1767 to 1782. He rose to fame, like the legendary phoenix, from the ashes of Ayuddhaya, then capital of Siam. 

The Burmese invaders had plundered and looted the city, vandalizing and destroying all of Siam’s historical records in 1767. 

After a great battle in which the Burmese took Ayuddhaya, King Taksin, with 500 followers, managed to escape, traveling east to Rayong.

Phraya Pichai Daab Hak

 Here he began to build a new army with the renowned warrior Phraya Pichai Daab Hak as his commander in chief.

Daab Hak means ‘broken sword’; which nickname was earned during a fierce battle. As one of Phraya Pichai’s swords was broken in two, the brave general continued to fight on, ultimately leading King Taksin’s army to yet another glorious victory.

Guerilla Warfare

With his miniscule army, King Taksin declared war on Burma. Using guerilla tactics, the army attacked Burma in small bands, continuously harrying the enemy and totally destroying their supply routes. As word of his exploits spread, so inspired were the Siamese people that many more rallied to his cause. Eventually the army was large enough to make an all-out counterattack on Ayuddhaya, still under Burmese control. Although still outnumbered two to one, he attacked and routed the Burmese with great losses amid the enemy ranks. This was only the beginning, for throughout his reign the country was constantly at war.

Military Might

King Taksin many times distinguished himself in battle. As a bold and courageous military strategist, he decided to move the Siamese capital to Thonburi which was easier to defend. At this stage, Ayuddhaya lay in uninhabitable ruins. After many hard-fought battles, he eventually managed to reunite the kingdom.

In battle King Taksin’s strategy and fighting spirit was unsurpassed. 
Thailand King Taksin

Pra Chao Suua

The Tiger King
Pra Chao Suua (1662-1709) 

Famous in Muay Thai history, Pra Chao Suua loved all sports but especially Muay Thai.

He was renowned for disguising himself as a peasant and traveling around the country to public festivals. Here he participated very successfully in Muay Thai bouts.

At one such festival, he fought two champions, defeating both, and was paid two ticals by the ringmaster. He then left undetected, nobody having been aware of the royal presence in their midst. 

Panthainorasingh

At another village he came up against a fighter know as Panthainorasingh. The bout was very well matched with neither boxer gaining the upper hand.

When tax collectors arrived at the village they interrupted the bout. Worried that his identity might be revealed, the King had to escape quickly.

However, so impressed was he with Panthainorasingh’s fighting skill that he asked the talented pugilist to come to work for him. Appointing him Steersman of his royal barge (today’s equivalent of a personal bodyguard who drives the getaway car!)
Thai King Pra Chao Suua

Nai Khanom Dtom

Father of Muay Thai

Probably the most famous Muay Thai boxer of all time was Nai Khanom Dtom, known as the Father of Muay Thai.

 He was the first ever Muay Thai boxer to fight in another country. In 1774, the Burmese monarch, King Mangra, captured him during battle with Siamese forces. 

Nai Khanom Dtom’s prowess as a boxer was to save his life and win him his freedom.

 Challenged to fight against 10 of Burma’s best Bando boxers, he defeated them all and was granted his freedom.

Annually, 17th March is a very special date in the Muay Thai calendar, being Nai Khanom Dtom Night, when a special event is promoted to commemorate this exceptional Muay Thai boxer.

In conclusion King Naresuan the Great, King Taksin and the Tiger King, Pra Chao Suua, were all exponents of Muay Thai and were influential in shaping it into the art it is today. The bravery of King Naresuan, the tactics of King Taksin, and Pra Chao Suua’s love of Muay Thai are integral to the warrior spirit that lies at the heart of this fascinating martial art.
Nai Khanom Dtom Muay Thai
You-Tube Golden Age of Muay Thai
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