Muay boran, and therefore Muay Thai, was originally called by more generic names such as pahuyuth (from the Sanskrit bahu-yuddha meaning unarmed combat), Toi muay or simply muay. As well as being a practical fighting technique for use in actual warfare, muay became a sport in which the opponents fought in front of spectators who went to watch for entertainment. These muay contests gradually became an integral part of local festivals and celebrations, especially those held at temples. Eventually, the previously bare-fisted fighters started wearing lengths of hemp rope around their hands and forearms. This type of match was called muay khat chueak (มวยคาดเชือก). Kickboxing was also a component of military training and gained prominence during the reign of King Naresuan in 1560 CE.Muay Thai is referred to as the “Art of Eight Limbs” or the “Science of Eight Limbs”, because it makes use of punches, kicks, elbows and knee strikes, thus using eight “points of contact”, as opposed to “two points” (fists) in boxing and “four points” (hands and feet) used in other more regulated combat sports, such as kickboxing and savate. A practitioner of muay Thai is known as a nak muay. Western practitioners are sometimes called Nak Muay Farang, meaning “foreign boxer.”The ascension of King Chulalongkorn (Rama V) to the throne in 1868 ushered in a golden age not only for muay but for the whole country of Thailand. Muay progressed greatly during the reign of Rama V as a direct result of the king’s personal interest in the sport. The country was at peace and muay functioned as a means of physical exercise, self-defense, recreation, and personal advancement.Masters of the art began teaching muay in training camps where students were provided with food and shelter. Trainees would be treated as one family, and it was customary for students to adopt the camp’s name as their own surname. Scouts would be sent by the royal family to organize matches between different camps.King Rama VII (r. 1925–35) pushed for codified rules for muay, and they were put into place. Thailand’s first boxing ring was built in 1921 at Suan Kularp. Referees were introduced and rounds were now timed by kick. Fighters at the Lumpinee Kickboxing Stadium began wearing modern gloves, as well as hard groin protectors, during training and in boxing matches against foreigners. Traditional rope-binding (Kaad Chuek) made the hands a hardened, dangerous striking tool. The use of knots in the rope over the knuckles made the strikes more abrasive and damaging for the opponent while protecting the hands of the fighter.[ This rope-binding was still used in fights between Thais but after the occurrence of a death in the ring, it was decided that fighters should wear gloves and cotton coverlets over the feet and ankles. It was also around this time that the term muay Thai became commonly used while the older form of the style came to be known as muay boran, which is now performed primarily as an exhibition art form.With the success of muay Thai in the mixed martial arts, it has become the de facto style of choice for competitive stand-up fighters. As a result, western practitioners have incorporated much more powerful hand striking techniques from boxing although some Thai purists accuse them of diluting the art.In 1993, the International Federation of Muaythai Amateur, or IFMA was inaugurated. It became the governing body of amateur Muay Thai consisting of 128 member countries worldwide and is recognized by Olympic Council of Asia.In 1995, World Muaythai Council, the oldest and largest professional sanctioning organizations of Muay Thai was set up by the Royal Thai Government and sanctioned by the Sports Authority of Thailand.In 1995, the World Muay Thai Federation was founded via the merger of two existing organizations, and established in Bangkok. As of August 2012, it had over 70 member countries. Its President is elected at the World Muay Thai Congress.
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