Thailand's National Holiday - Nai Khanom Tom Day

Muay Thai is a martial art, sport, and cultural phenomenon that has grown to become a way of life for the people of Thailand. In fact, it is so much a part of their culture that many consider it more than just an art or sport: Muay Thai is also considered to be a religion.

It may seem strange at first glance to call one's national fighting style (or any martial art) religious, but when you look into it further you'll begin to see how this could be true.

The first historical documentation of Muay Thai was during the Ayutthaya era when the Burmese King Mangrai attacked Siam. To prepare its soldiers for battle, Ayutthaya established a fighting system that used the body as weapon.

Through this foundation, warriors trained to fight using their fists, legs, elbows and knees. The origins behind Muay Thai go back many centuries before modern times.

Big Buddha in Phuket, Thailand.

The principles behind this ancient fighting style were originally developed by monks who were skilled in using weapons such as staffs and knives in battle against foreign invaders from neighboring countries like Burma (modern day Myanmar).

However these monks soon found out that they needed another method of defending themselves without having access to weapons like swords or spears because those items were not always readily available when needed.

How Did Muay Thai Become Thailand's National Sport?

Muay Thai, Thailand's national sport and martial art, is a symbol of Thai strength and pride. It has been in existence for centuries and was originally created as a means to defend against invading countries.

How did Muay Thai become Thailand's national sport? To answer that, first you need to understand Nai Khanom Tom and what he did to put Muay Thai under the spotlight.

Nai Khanom Tom - The Father of Muay Thai

Nai Khanom Tom was a famous Muay Thai fighter, who was born in Bangkok, Thailand. He is considered to be one of the fathers of Muay Thai.

This is not because he invented the martial art, but because of the way he used it in time of war. According to legend, Nai Khanom Tom was captured by the Burmese and forced to fight in their ring against his will.

While imprisoned, Nai Khanom Tom fought against ten fighters from the Burmese army when they invaded his country in 1774. The King of Burma sent their first fighter who was (according to legend) easily dismantled by Nai Khanom Tom.

The King of Burma claimed the victory was a fluke and sent nine more Burmese fighters into the ring without giving Nai Khanom Tom any time to rest in between "rounds".

Fighting For Freedom From Burma

Nai Khanom Tom defeated all ten of the Burmese fighters using Muay Thai techniques. As a result of his victory, the King of Burma granted Nai Khanom Tom and the rest of the Thai prisoners their freedom.

Nai Khanom Tom is credited with sparking the legend and effectiveness of Muay Thai as a martial art and viable form of self defense.

The story of Nai Khanom Tom isn't just a legend, however; there are records that prove that he existed.

Muay Thai Today

Muay Thai, or “Thai boxing” as it is commonly known today, is a martial art that originated in Thailand. It is also known as the “Art of Eight Limbs” because it uses punches and kicks as well as elbows and knees during fighting.

Shirtless man wearing Muay Thai shorts throwing his right knee at an imaginary opponent.

Today, Muay Thai is becoming more and more popular as a sport practiced worldwide although its origins remain rooted within Thailand and its military history. It has grown into a major international sport with millions of practitioners across the globe.

Muay Thai is a martial art that uses the entire body as a weapon. It combines elements of boxing, kickboxing and arguably greco-roman wrestling but has its own unique style. Today, the sport is characterized by powerful kicks, the stand-up clinch and punches while wearing gloves or hand wraps.

In many modern day rulesets, Muay Thai fights last for three rounds at five minutes each round.

The Legend Lives On

Muay Thai is one of the oldest martial arts in the world. It was created by Thai warriors in order to fight better against their enemies. As a result, they were able to defeat their enemies and maintain their status as a sovereign nation and called Siam (which is now known as Thailand).

The legend of Nai Khanom Tom will live on forever and his name and legacy is cemented as an integral part of Thailand's national history.