Muay Boran is the Other name of Ancient Thai Boxing. It is a traditional form of Muay Thai which is still taught and practiced in Thailand.
Muay Boran is still practiced and taught in order to preserve the Boxing Techniques from Muay Thai’s History before the introduction of formalized rules and the introduction of gloves in the 1930s. Muay Boran is the ancestor of the modern day Muay Thai Boxing.
Most of the Facts of Muay Boran have been extinct now, many of the original records from Thailand regarding this fascinating subject were destroyed in the sacking of Ayuddhaya in 1767 and others lost in the mists of time. The late Arjarn Samai Messamarn from the Buddhai Swan Institute in Thailand was able to make a study of the Thai empty hand system using the scant resources available in Thailand. This research also took him to Burma where he was able to gain access to historical records on the subject of the Siamese systems of warfare.
Using this information and the painstaking research done within Thailand, Arjarn Samai was able to document and confirm 60 Awudt Muay Boran techniques and fighting methods. Only two records of the techniques, hand-painted on parchment now exist. Arjarn Samai’s son, Arjarn Werayut Messamarn recently visited England bringing with him one of these unique documents.
It is believed that the Siamese people had their own styles of fighting, in each Kingdom a different style. These fighting systems have clearly been evolving for many hundreds of years and have been known under many different names such as; "Arwut Thai" (meaning Thai Weapons), "Pahuyut" (armed, unarmed combat).
Much later, at the end of the Ayuthaya Period, or around the beginning of the Thonburi
Teaching Ancient Muay Thai" Period after a long history of fighting against the Burmese, King Phra Thaksin "The Great" finally pushed all invaders from the Kingdoms of Siam and with this the Chakri dynasty began. The Chakri dynasty with King Rama I on the throne, marked a period when nearly all of the separate Kingdoms of Siam joined together to become the country we now know as Thailand.
At the end of the 1700's, with wars against invaders over,fighters began to compete locally, and often in front of the King to see who had the best style. Most people recognize this period in the history of Muay Thai as fighters used to wrap their hands in cotton twine. Today, people refer to this style of fighting (during this period) as "Muay Kaad Chuak" although at the time, this isn't the term people used. "Muay Kaad Chuak" began to decline around the 1920's, finally ending in 1929 with a death in the ring.
Although the government of the time prohibited this style of fighting(with wrapped hands) people still continued to practice the arts and fight underground. Eventually, by introducing rules, and providing fighters with better protection, competition became safer, and the sport of Muay Thai was born.
Here are some information of the techniques used:
Technique 6 (Buddhai Swan) – The boxer grabs the opponent’s neck twisting him from side to side, and then throwing a knee to the opponent’s body, finally the boxer will push the opponent away finishing with a high kick to the opponent’s neck.
To clarify, the name given to the technique usually refers to an action within that technique, not necessarily the whole technique or even the end result but for instance the action of breaking (hak) the neck (kor) in Hak Kor Erawan or the action of presenting or offering something up in Hanuman Tawai Wen.
From the 60 major techniques in the Buddhai Swan syllabus there are other minor techniques plus many different variations and additional moves that can follow on from the main techniques. A good example of this is the technique “GAA JIK KAI” translated Crow pecks the egg which is basically fast jabs to the opponent’s face but from the jab one could choose any technique e.g. round kick (daet), front kick (teep), right uppercut (uppercut kwaa) or many others.
Besides the Buddhai Swan techniques, we have uncovered at least another 60 different techniques from various sources including Arjarn Yodthong from the Sityodthong Camp, Arjarn Panya Kraitus author of the book “Muay Thai Most Distinguished Art of Fighting”, the late Khun Bunyuen Suvanatdha former head of the Amateur Muay Thai Association of Thailand and Kru Lang of the Sitpralang Camp in Ayuddhaya.
The discovery of Muay Boran in the West has taken us on a journey back through time. The modern sport of Muay Thai has been established here for nearly 30 years, we are now moving backwards and have discovered the time before sport when contests were fought for honour or freedom. It is merely a blink of the eye in time before we reach our final destination and find the mother of the Thai martial arts – Krabi Krabong.
This article was published on Friday 06 June, 2008.