Muay Boran

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Muay Boran (Thai: ????????), which translates to “Ancient Boxing”, is the term Thai people called their fighting art and competition during the fists binding or “Kaard Chuerg”(????????) era ,to differentiate it from the modern rules Muay Thai. Eventually, regional styles of Muay Boran were developed such as Muay Thasao (North), Muay Korat (Eastern or North-East), Muay Lopburi (Central) and Muay Chaiya (South). There is the phrase “Punch Korat, Wit Lopburi, Posture Chaiya, Faster Thasao” (????????????? ?????????? ????????? ??????????????).

The practice of Muay Boran was kept up largely by Buddhist monks who were the keepers and teachers of all arts both practical and spiritual. Temples began holding fights during festive occasions. As every Thai man is expected to live as a monk at least once in his life the art grew in popularity among common people, so much so that it was said that any man worth his salt would practice it.

Muay Boran’s form is quite efficient, in that it maximizes the amount of damage that each blow can inflict, and effective, in that it can easily lead to the death or serious injury of the opponent. Most notably, Muay Boran emphasizes the use of extremely powerful elbow and knee techniques, and combinations thereof, always thrown at full force and speed, with the intent to overcome one’s adversary as quickly as possible, because another one might already be coming close or attacking. Muay Boran has been influenced by neighboring martial arts and vice versa such as the Kamae Kham Sao which is a technique borrowed from Cambodia. [1]

Traditionally, Muay Thai masters would teach the techniques of Muay Boran as advanced Muay Thai but this is not often done today. Various moves in Muay Boran are forbidden in present-day Muay Thai tournaments and competitions. Even in Thailand it is becoming increasingly difficult to find a school willing to teach it; they prefer to focus on “modern” Muay Thai, as this is more easily exploitable as a form of income. Many schools nowadays who claim to offer Muay Boran just teach Muay Thai and sell it under the name of Muay Boran.

Muay Boran was previously not well-known in the West outside a small circle of practitioners. The art was featured in the 2003 Thai film Ong Bak starring Tony Jaa.