If one thinks about fighting sports and Thailand, he has most probably directly to the Muay Thai in his mind. Since it is a competition-based sport, there are, as in every other sport, fixed rules to follow.

Muay Thai is often classified as a traditional fighting style, which is also true on one side. However, the Thaiboxing, as we know it nowadays, exists only since the 1920’s. At that time rules were introduced step by step to equalize the competitions and develop a sport. Gloves, rings, fixed round times, that was not existing before that time in Thailand.

The Sports Muay Thai developed from the traditional Muay Boran, which has been used for centuries by the Siamese warriors as a weaponless defense technique.

In the late 18th century the Siamese warrior Nai Khanomtom was captured by the Burmese king. At an event Nai Khanomtom had to fight several Burmese warriors and he was able to defeat all his opponents. He was given freedom by the Burmese king, while proving that Muay Boran is an extremely effective fighting style.

Nai Khanomtom

Muay Boran (ancient boxing) is, however, only an generic term for various styles, from the different parts of the Kingdom of Siam. For example, there is Muay Chaiya from the south, Muay Lopburi from the center of the country, Muay Korat from the east and Muay Thasao from the north.

Many techniques from the Muay Boran are still used in Muay Thai sports, but there are also many things that are not allowed, as it leads to serious injuries and therefore the rules prohibit this techniques.

There are a few fundamental differences between Muay Thai and Muay Boran, but they are quite easy to understand if both martial arts are practiced.

Muay Thai vs. Muay Boran 1

In Muay Thai you can hear again and again that eight weapons are used. Two fists, two elbows, two knees and two legs. However, Muay Boran consists of nine weapons. In this case, the head is also counted as a weapon; Head bumps. Often, however, there is also the speech about “one weapon”, which means that the whole body can be used.

Muay Boran 9 Waffen

Muay Thai vs. Muay Boran 2

The stance of the Muay Boran is often lower and wider than the Muay Thai (depends on the exact style). This affects on the one hand the stability and on the other the defense of attacks. However, this is dependent on the situation and does not apply in general.

Muay Thai vs. Muay Boran 3

In the Muay Boran many attacks are carried out to the joints, especially in Muay Chaiya. These attacks are partially forbidden in Muay Thai or you won’t get any points. Though, they may have devastating effects on the opponent’s mobility and therefore tend to find application in self-defense.

Block & Strike

Muay Thai vs. Muay Boran 4

Muay Thai is pure striking. Punches, kicks, knees and elbows in all possible variations are permitted. But on the ground is end. The rules only allow fighting in a standing position.

In the Muay Boran there were techniques for the ground fight and the transition phase, the Takedowns. The goal of the Muay Boran is rather to make an opponent harmless, whether on the ground or on the ground. It is not about points or winning competitions. Unfortunately, these ground combat techniques got lost due to the competition sport and the centuries.

Muay Thai vs. Muay Boran 5

The guard in Muay Boran protects the “centerline”, the vertical axis of the body. In the Muay Chaiya for example, the front fist is at the level of the eyes the rear fist at the level of the chin. In the Muay Thai the cover is rather open and sideways from the head. The technique in the Muay Boran makes it easier to defended attacks and immediately transfer to grip and lock techniques.

Muay Chaiya vs. Muay ThaiMuch of the Muay Boran can not be used today in Muay Thai because of the competition rules. Unfortunately, the traditional way of fighting becomes more and more forgotten due to the big business in the competition Muay Thai.

But if you are interested in the traditional martial art of Thailand and would like to have a insight during a Thailand holiday, or just want to train something else instead of just kicking  and punching the bag all the time, then I can recommend you the Muay Boran training with Kru Oh at Tiger Muay Thai on Phuket.

Kru Oh has over 20 years of experience in the Muay Boran and Krabi Krabong (Thai weapon arts) and has been teaching for about 15 years. He proved that Muay Boran is quite feasible for the fight. In 2008 he became M.M.A. Champion in the 60 kg division. In the meantime he has  entirely focused on teaching.

Kru Oh

The Tiger Muay Thai on Phuket is one of the most famous and renowned gyms in the world when it comes to combat sports. There is everything from Muay Thai to yoga. From crossfit to BJJ. Many top fighters from all over the world go in and out. For a training vacation in paradise really recommendable.

Do you have any experience in Muay Boran? What differences do you see compared to Muay Thai? Let us know in the comments!

If you have any further questions or suggestions, then you can leave me a comment below. I will answer you as soon as possible!

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