Muay Thai, translated into English as Thai Boxing, is the national sport of Thailand and is a martial art with origins in the ancient battlefield tactics of the Siamese (or Thai) army. It evolved from Krabi Krabong, literally long and short weapons, the weapons tactics of the Thai army. The early Muay Thai bouts pitted different companies within the Siamese army against each other in unarmed combat (Muay Boran) with few rules and no weight divisions or time limits. They became quite popular and eventually were shown in stadia across the country. In the early 20th century, time limits, boxing gloves as well as a uniform set of rules were introduced. During the latter half of the 20th century Muay Thai was exported to many countries and is now practiced by hundreds of thousands of people all over the world.
Muay Thai is known as “King of the Ring” in kickboxing circles. These fights feature punches, kicks, elbows, knees, standing grappling and head-butts to wear down and knock out their opponent. Thai training methods develop devastating power, speed and superb cardio-vascular endurance as well as fighting spirit. Muay Thai training is also quite safe thanks to sophisticated pad training that evolved to keep fighters healthy between fights. Muay Thai has also proven very effective outside the ring and has been embraced enthusiastically by practitioners of a variety of self-defense, sporting, military and law enforcement activities.
Kickboxing started in the US during the 1970's when American karate practitioners became frustrated with strict controls on martial arts competitions that didn't allow full contact kicks and punches. As this is a relatively new sport there are no long-term traditions. The sport has undergone changes and been refined during the last two decades.