Muay Thai History

According to some scholars, Muay Thai history began in A.D. 947 when a group of Thais settled in the north.

Pu Chao Lao Chok was the leader of the settlement. 

Pu Chao Lao Chok went on to become the ruler of Fang, which was a region in the northern part of present-day Chiang Mai province.

He became the first king of the house of Lawachakarat, which was the predecessor of Mung Rai’s dynastic rulers of the Lanna Kingdom.

Over time, the kingdom’s influence gradually increased and eventually reigned over the Khmer empire.

As time passed, the Thai people expanded and established the kingdom of Sukothai.

Later, the Thai people expanded again to the Chao Phraya river area and established the kingdom of Ayutthaya.

It is written that the warrior-instinct Thais began developing bare-handed fighting skill during these settlements, which became their martial art for close-quarter engagements.

The Thais fighting skill improved over time as new techniques were invented to employ various body parts as weapons.

Later, bare-handed skills were transferred to weapons like swords and shields. This transfer and adaptation increased the Thais efficiency of fighting and self-defense.

The first evidence of the word “muay” can be traced to a chapter of the Mung Rai Sat – the law of Mung Rai.  The inscription, which was believed to be from A.D. 1296, was written in Lanna or Thai Yuan language.

Based on this inscription, Muay Thai history began at least as early as A.D. 1296.

A Most Ancient Text & Muay Thai History

It is believed that the most ancient Muay Thai text was written during the reign of King Rama III which was from A.D. 1824-1851.

The ancient text, which can be seen at the National Library, described the four basic attacks, among other things, with regards to Muay Thai history.

The four basic attacks were:

  • Thum

  • Thap

  • Chap

  • Hak

Thum refers to grappling and throwing.

Thap refers to jumping and attacking with the buttocks.

Chap refers to holding or locking.

Hak refers to physically damaging an opponent’s arms.

Nai Khanom Tom

According to Thai history, invading Burmese troops took Thai prisoners during the fall of Ayutthaya in 1767.

The prisoners, which included a large number of Thai boxers, were held by the Burmese ruler Suki Phra Nai Kong of Kai Pho Sam Ton at the city of Ungwa.

In Rangoon, Burma in 1774, the Burmese king Lord Mangra, decided to organize a seven-day, seven-night celebration in honor of the pagoda that houses the preserved relics of the Buddha.

As part of this celebration, he ordered a royal presentation of boxing between Thai and Burmese fighters.

On the first day of the celebration, a famous Thai fighter from Ayutthaya, Nai Khanom Tom, entered the ring.

Prior to the match beginning, Nai Khanom Tom danced around his opponent, which amazed and confused the Burmese. The referee announced that the dance was a Thai tradition called the Wai Kru and that the dance was a way for the fighter to pay his respects to his mentor. 

Despite knocking out his opponent Nai Khanom Tom was not awarded a victory because the referee ruled that the opponent had been distracted by the dance. 

Thai history relates that Nai Khanom Tom was then presented with a challenge to face nine other Burmese boxers. 

To uphold the reputation of Thai boxing, he agreed to the challenge. 

Nai Khanom Tom defeated every Burmese boxer he faced. 

In time, Nai Khanom Tom returned to Thailand with two Burmese wives, which were a reward from the Burmese king Lord Mangra because he was so fascinated with Thai boxing.

Nai Khanom Tom was the first Thai boxer to imprint the art of Muay Thai with dignity beyond the borders of Thailand. 

His actions gave Muay Thai a grand reputation.

Nai Khanom Tom’s actions are engraved in the histories of Burma and Thailand to this day.

It is for these reasons that Nai Khanom Tom is known as the Father of Muay Thai.

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