Muaythai is also known as the science of eight limbs in which fists, knees, elbows and legs are used to defend and attack. Therefore, muaythai will be fought in all three ranges – long, middle and close, which makes it both unique and spectacular. One of the main differences between muaythai and other ring sports is the grappling in the close range which take special skill and stamina. Despite the extreme physical and combative nature of the muaythai, it takes a lot of skill to become a proficient fighter and win matches at the elite levels of competition.
Muaythai has been a part of Thai history and heritage for hundreds of years, as with most traditions from ancient times. Many different versions of the history of Muaythai exist, but all sources agree that Muaythai was the primary and most effective method of self-defence used by Thai warriors on the battlefields of conflicts and wars that occurred countless times throughout the history of the nation now known as Thailand. During this time, a warfare manual named “Chupasart” was written. This manual emphasised the martial uses of each body part. The underlying philosophy of this manual implied that fighting was more than the use of weapons, but most importantly, should engage total commitment from mind, body and soul.
In the early 1930s, Muaythai was officially codified, with rules and regulations being created and introduced into the sporting world, to make Muaythai an international sport of the early 20th century and a safe ring sport. Round contests were introduced along with eight divisions based on international boxing. Queensbury rules boxing gloves replaced the rope bindings on the fighters’ hands.
With a centuries long history, Muaythai has progressed and is now recognised in many countries worldwide, creating a new era of a proud world history. In recent years Muaythai, both amateur and professional, has swept across the world like wildfire and developed into a premier ring sport – a fighting art with no equal in terms of unarmed combat and spectator appeal, as well as being a form of self-defence and a fitness programme.
Format & Rules
Opponents compete in a boxing ring wearing 10 oz. gloves over 3 rounds of 3 minutes each with a 1-minute rest between the rounds. Fighters are all classified into weight divisions.
For The Arafura Games, 7 divisions have been chosen (8 male, 3 female), including:
Men’s 54, 57, 63.5, 71, 75, 81, 91 and Women’s 51, 54 and 60 KGs
The main competition is Elite level or A Class with participation of around 25 countries. Competitive level or B Class competition will also be held however this will be restricted to local NT athletes as an opportunity to compete and develop their skill and experience in competition.
All boxers must wear a Mongkol which is a sacred headband before the bout commences and each boxer may also wear a charm or inscribed cloth around their upper arm or their waist. No footwear is to be worn as fighters compete barefoot. Before the bout, athletes must perform the traditional muaythai ritual of homage “Wai Kru” or “Ram Muay” accompanied by live music in which the athletes pay homage and respect to their opponents, their teachers, families and the officials. This ritual is what separates muaythai to any other ring sport.
Points are awarded in a “Ten Point System”. whenever the athlete hits the opponent by punching, kicking, kneeing or elbowing with force, lands on target, no infringement without being blocked or guarded against. The target for muaythai means any part of the body except for the groin. Ten points shall be awarded for each round. No fraction of points may be given. At the end of each round, the better (more skillful in muaythai) athlete shall receive 10 points and his/her opponent proportionately less. When athletes are equal in merit, each shall receive 10 points.
After each round the points are displayed so everyone watching the match is informed, which then makes the final round (Round 3) a game of chess for the boxer ahead to hold his or her advantage and the boxer behind to try to turn the tables.
While IFMA’s Rules & Regulations stipulate the rounds of a muaythai bout to last 3 minutes each, the sport’s original method for timing these rounds around the 1900s was quite unique: a pierced coconut shell placed in water!!
When the coconut filled with water and sunk, the round was over.