Workouts Across the World: Muay Thai

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muay thai

Boxingkickboxing, and other forms of martial arts have become increasingly popular as both sport spectacles, and as a burgeoning style of everyday exercise. There is now a staggering amount of martial arts influence popping up in local fitness studios, in our favorite workout videos and even classes at our local gyms. One style in particular has been gaining ground in popularity throughout the United States: Muay Thai.

According to the International Federation of Muaythai Amateur, Muay Thai has become " ...a fighting art with no equal in terms of unarmed combat and spectator appeal," and has grown exponentially in recent years as a form of self defence and as a fitness craze. If you are ready to crank up the heat and get in touch with your inner warrior, then Muay Thai may be your perfect fit!

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 It is widely believed that Muay Thai originated in Thailand hundred of years ago, primarily as the most effective method of self defense used by warriors on the battlefield. The underlying philosophy behind this ancient art of war was that fighting is much more than just the use of weapons. War should require the complete commitment of the mind, body, and soul. Ultimately, the body was seen as the most lethal weapon.

The Mixed Martial Arts Academy explains that the name can be traced back to Sanskrit, where "muay" can be translated as "to bind together." The art of Muay Thai is referred to as the "Art of Eight Limbs" or the "Science of Eight Limbs," because the fighting focuses on the use of punches, kicks, elbows, and knee strikes, all of which are commonly referenced as the "Eight Points of Contact." Other styles of martial arts don't even approach the 8 points of contact. Boxing only has 2 (the fists), and kickboxing has 4 (hands and feet). Muay Thai requires the full integration of the body in combat.

(Photo: muay thai 3 Photo Credit: Tokyo Joe's Studio of Self Defense )

For many years, Muay Thai was more than just a combat strategy for the nobility of Thailand. National issues were decided by Muay Thai contests. Muay Thai did not evolve into a sport until the late 17th century, when the king insisted upon local competitions to be held during times of peace, in order to keep warriors prepared for war. In fact, even today the Thailand army still trains soldiers in Muay Thai. As competitions became more popular, it became a pastime for citizens. Even children were encouraged to participated, and Muay Thai eventually became an integral part of childhood.

In 1930 Muay Thai was officially codified as an international "safe ring sport" (a standard ring surrounded by ropes; basically what we imagine when we think of boxing) and became recognized as not just a sport, but as a form of self defense and a fitness program as well. Today, Muay Thai has become one of the most respected and popular forms of martial arts throughout the world.

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Whether you are looking for a new fitness trend to try out, or you are looking for a sport that will allow you to bring out your more primal side, Muay Thai will kick your butt into shape. It is a full-body workout that brings out the warrior in everyone.

For more information on Muay Thai, check out our helpful sources: Mixed Martial Arts AcademyInternational Federation of Muaythai AmateurMuay Thai Fighting

Interested in other Workouts Across the World? Check out some of our previous features: Pole Dancing, Kundalini Yoga, and Capoeira.