Muay Thai is a very old Martial Art.
Many forms of kickboxing have long been practiced around Southeast Asia. Based on Chinese and Indian Martial Arts, trainees state that these arts can be traced back to a thousand years.
In Thailand, Muay Thai turned from the older Muay Boran, an unarmed combat art which would have been used by Siamese soldiers after losing their weapons in battle. Some state that the old Siamese military created Muay Boran from the weapon-based art, Krabi Krabong, but some state that the two systems were developed at the same time. Krabi Krabong nonetheless was an important influence on Muay Thai as seen in the practices in the Wai Khru.
Muay boran, and therefore Muay Thai, was initially known as Dhoi Muay or just Muay. As well as being a perfect fighting technique for use in real warfare, Muay Thai became a Martial Art in which the adversaries battled in front of spectators who went to see for entertainment. These Muay Thai battles eventually evolved into an integral part of local festivals and celebrations, especially those held at temples. Eventually, the previously unprotected fighters started wearing lengths of hemp rope (as a type of glove) around their hands and forearms. These types of fights were called Muay Khat Chueak.
Muay Thai, like boxing and various forms of kickboxing, is recognized as a very effective striking base within MMA, and is very commonly practiced among MMA fighters. Fighters (some of whom have won several titles) such as Gina Carano, Jon Jones, Wanderlei Silva, Mauricio Rua, Thiago Silva, Alistair Overeem, Duane Ludwig, Jose Aldo, Anderson Silva, Amir Sadollah, and Cristiane Santos employ a wide range of tactics born from Muay Thai. Many other mixed martial artists have trained in the art, and it is commonly taught at MMA, BJJ, and Wrestling gyms.
Many techniques associated with Muay Thai are often seen in MMA, such as knees, elbows, clinching, high/low leg kicks and punches.
For further reading on the subject, check out my Muay Thai blog.
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