Muay Boran (ancient Muay ), is the original, traditional form of Muay Thai (Thai Boxing), prior to its transformation in the early 1900′s into a modern ring sport, with rules, weight divisions, etc,…influenced in part by modern western boxing.
Whereas in modern Muay Thai the main objective is to make a career as a professional or amateur boxer, becoming a champion, for pride, money and glory,… in ancient times, it’s objective was a form of self-defense and warfare used in the battlefields and in conjunction with (or without) weapons! Any part of the body was used (including the head) to strike down an an opponent as quickly as possible, no matter what size, weight or how many.
Still in the past during peaceful times contests were held between Muay Boran boxers, and famous soldiers, but without weight divisions, and as many regulations! Fights were often to the finish, without gloves…until one of the fighters gave up…or first blood was drawn!
A form of Muay Boran contests developed during these times which became standard, using ropes around the fists (Muay Kaad Cheurk) and forearms, for defense against shin kicks and also for protecting the hands at the same time causing more damage to the opponent ! Some say that ground glass mixed with glue or resign was applied on the fist bindings to cause more dammage…but that hasn’t been proved yet! According to some historians it may have been true however during wars, on the battlefield…but it is doubtful that it was used in one on one contests, for the entertainment of the crowds.
Muay Boran (like in modern Muay Thai) has a few regional varieties: in the north boxers were known more for their strong punches, in the south for their kicks, in the center around Bangkok and Korat areas, for their knees and elbows, and in eastern Thailand (Isaan region) near Laos, boxers were known for their heart, strength and stamina. But nowadays the differences between these varieties (as in modern Muay Thai) are few. Most camps or schools teach and are strong at all of these aspects.
For many years Muay Boran was thought of as being a forgotten art by the general public, almost to the point of extinction, as the financial benefits of modern, professional Muay Thai and its popularity abroad spread!
But in reality Muay Boran has never been forgotten by those people concerned, and it is still taught and practiced by a few masters and boxers all over Thailand! Contests are still held and the training is still as traditional and much more ritualized than its modern version! Teachers of Muay Boran put the emphasis on progressing slowly, from one technique to the other, until the student grasps its essence and shows the correct attitude of mind and body!
Traditional Muay Boran techniques range from the simple realistic and effective techniques to the more spectacular and difficult, such as spinning jump kicks and double jump knee strikes with elbow to face. Some varieties of Muay Boran also include the training in joint locking and breaking, as well as in leg, arm and body throws …even ground fighting.
Muay Boran must be understood in its proper context: battlefields, open plains, hot weather, multiple attackers, rough terrain, swords, elephants, one-on-one duels… No rules!
Like with most traditional martial arts and modern fight sports, some of its skills would be inappropriate for the common modern day person walking around in a business suit …but most of the techniques are simple, and easy to use!
At Daosawan Muay Thai, like in most pro camps of Thailand, students progress from the basic skills to the advanced and later, to traditional Muay Boran techniques, often called Mae Mai and Luk Mai Muay Thai (major and minor tricks).
Every authentic modern Muay Thai instructor should have been taught some of those skills, because in reality Muay Boran is Muay Thai…and in Muay Thai there is Muay Boran! However some instructors focus on the sport, professional and amateur, while others focus and specialize on the traditional, for the Art and beauty of “Muay”!