History of Kickboxing

History of Kickboxing

Muay Thai kickboxing is a martial art that originated with the Thai military. It is sometimes referred to as “the science of eight limbs” since two arms are used for punching, two feet for kicking, two elbows for striking, and two knees for striking.

Various forms of kickboxing have long been practiced throughout Southeast Asia. As with most countries in the region, Thai culture is highly influenced by ancient civilizations within Southeast Asia. The origins of Muay Thai are unclear. One theory is that it was with the Thai people before the Thai immigration to Southeast Asia from China. Another is that it was adopted from Khmer martial arts. A third theory is that a little bit of both theories occurred. Muay Thai evolved from its ancestor, Muay Boron (“ancient boxing”), an unarmed combat used by Siamese soldiers in conjunction with Krabi Krabong, the weapon-based style.

As well as continuing to function as a practical fighting technique for use in actual warfare, Muay Thai became a sport in which the opponents fought in front of spectators who went for entertainment. These contests gradually became an integral part of local festivals and celebrations, especially those held at temples. It was even used to entertain kings. Eventually, the previously bare-fisted fighters started wearing lengths of rope wrapped around their hands and forearms. This type of match was called Muay Kadar Chuek.

Muay gradually became a possible means of personal advancement as the nobility 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.

Sometime 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 also 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, such as former fighters or soldiers, began teaching Muay in training camps where students were provided with food and shelter. Trainees were treated as one family, and it was customary for students to adopt the camp’s name as their own surname.

After the occurrence of a death in the ring, King Rama the VII pushed for codified rules for Muay Thai, and they were put into place. These included the rules that the fighters should wear modern gloves and cotton coverlets over the feet and ankles. It was also around this time in the 1920s that the term “Muay Thai” became commonly used while the older form of the style was referred to as Muay Boran.


Muay Thai heavily influenced the development of kickboxing, which was later introduced in Japan, Europe, and North America. While the terms Kickboxing and Muay Thai are often used as synonyms today, kickboxing was actually developed as an independent martial arts sport in the 1950s. In this form of kickboxing, opponents are allowed to hit each other with fists and feet, hitting above the hip. Using elbows or knees is forbidden and the use of the shins is seldom allowed.

Muay Thai Techniques

Elite Training Center teaches Muay Thai as a self-defense technique, as aerobic exercise, and as cross-training for Mixed Martial Arts and our Krav Maga systems. Basic movements include punches, elbow strikes, a variety of kicks, and knee strikes. Additionally, clinches are used both offensively and defensively. The “wall of defense” uses shoulders, arms, and legs to block the attacker’s moves, and is also taught for self-defense. Most Muay Thai techniques use the entire body movement, rotating the hip with each kick, punch, and block. That is why these techniques are so very powerful.

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