The origins of Muay Boran can be traced back to the Ayuthaya Kingdom, which is now known as Thailand. During the war of the 18th century, The Burmese army invaded and captured the capital. Among those captured were many Thai boxers. King Mangra of Burma held a week-long festival to celebrate their victory over Thailand and honour the Buddha. As part of the festival, the Burmese decided to hold fighting matches. They were, of course, riding high on confidence with their recent victory! However, there was something the Burmese did not take into consideration. And that was losing the fighting match to an opponent from the losing Thai side. And that is where the legendary hero of the Thai people – Nai Khanomtom enters the picture. The legendary Thai fighter started with a Wai Kru performance which was a traditional dance done pre-fight. This itself is said to have captivated the Burmese audience. As the legend goes, much to the disappointment of the Burmese, Nai Khanomtom defeated Ten Burmese fighters one after the other, including their champion. Watching this magnificent performance by the Thai fighter, the Burmese king was very impressed and decided to grant the Nai Khanomtom and his fellow captives their freedom. The fighting style used by Nai Khanomtom was Muay Boran.
Before the 1930s, there existed many variations of the Thai combat style. All of these different variations were collectively known as Muay Boran. After the 1930s, over time, the different combat styles began to be regulated as a combat sport. This later formed into the Muay Thai that we know of today. Muay Thai translates to Thai Boxing, whereas Muay Boran translates to Ancient Boxing! Muay Boran or Muay Thai Boran was no sport. It was an unarmed combat style to be used on the battlefield and not in the ring with a referee. There are no fighting rules on a battlefield that exists in the ring, and pretty much anything goes. For this reason, you will find many deadly Muay Boran moves that are, for obvious reasons, not allowed in a ring match! Many moves, such as going for the groin or striking the throat, which is considered dirty moves in Muay Thai, are permitted in Muay Boran.
MUAY BORAN VARIATIONS:
MUAY THASAO: Thasao translates to “monkey feet”. It is called so because of its fluid movements.
MUAY LOPBURI: This is the Thai Boxing style used in central Thailand and focuses on the efficient use of punches and kicks.
MUAY KORAT: This combat style from East Thailand prefers heavy attacks like the Buffalo Punch.
MUAY CHAIYA: The Thai Boxing style from South Thailand. It also utilises a weapon system called Krabi Krabong and uses many hard elbow and knee strikes.