Muay Thai or Thai Boxing—was born on the battlefields of the 15th century, during the legendary clashes between Thai (or Siamese) armies and their bitter rivals,
the Burmese. Trained in the weapons-based fighting method known as Krabi Krabong, these early Thai soldiers also became famous for their toughness in close-quarters weaponless combat,
where legs, knees, elbows and hands took the place of swords and sticks. This type of weaponless fighting became Muay Thai, known as the “Science of Eight Limbs.
”Though the Thai army still uses its lethal techniques, Muay Thai has also been the country’s most popular spectator sport for hundreds of years.
There are more than 65,000 professional Muay Thai fighters in Thailand today. Many of them are poor peasants who begin training when they are as young as six years old,
studying with highly respected teachers and risking injury or worse for the chance to compete.