Muay Thai originated when battles were fought with bow and arrows, swords and pikes. During hand-to-hand combat, arms legs knees and elbows were also used as weapons. This art, which was included in military training, was made famous by King Naresuan in 1560 AD. During one of the many battles between Burma and Siam he was captured. The Burmese knew of his prowess as the best unarmed fighter in the realm and gave him a chance to fight with their best for his freedom. Upon his return to Siam, he was hailed as a hero and Siamese style boxing, as it was called then, was soon recognized as a national sport. Boxing in this style reached its zenith of popularity about two hundred years ago, i.e., in the reign of Prachao Sua (King Tiger) when it was indulged in by all classes of the population.
From those days until the early part of this century, the fighters, particularly those in provinces, used horsehide strips and later hemp in lieu of gloves. It was also a practice, at one time, to grind pieces of glass into the hemp if both contestants agreed. Since these practices were obviously dangerous to the fighters’ health, regular boxing gloves were introduced about 50 years ago and have been used ever since.
To the Thais, Muay Thai is regarded as a prestigious national sport. Most Thai boys learn how to box Thai style. Even Thai girls will learn enough of the basic principles to use it for self-defense when necessary.
Arizona Martial Arts Academy teaches Muay Thai on Saturdays as self-defense and physical fitness.