Muay Thai is a combat martial art originating from Thailand. There are countless of introductions and videos available that contain a lot of useful information about Muay Thai so I would rather not bore you with the technical details. I would like to avoid repeating information that abundantly available and to a varying degree, common knowledge. Instead, I will attempt to grasp the essence of the art, the quintessential qualities, mental, physical, and spiritual alike that a great Muay Thai fighter seeks to posess. (You can learn Mauy Thai in Essex.)
In order to help us understand what sets Muay Thai apart from other martial arts, allow me to begin with an old tale. Legend tells us the story of Nai Khanom Tom, a Muay Thai fighter of the eighteenth century who was taken hostage as a prisoner of war by the Burmese Emperor. He was asked to fight 10 of the most outstanding Burmese boxers and he single-handedly defeated all 10 of them in a row. His opponents were mesmerized not only by the morose pre-fight dance he performed at the begining of each fight, but also by the flurry of blows that were impossible to foresee, not to mention block. Unsuccesful to defend against his elusive moves, his intimidated opponents thought in panic that he had used black magic to
sprout a multitude of limbs to attack with. When asked by the Burmese Emperor whether he would like riches, or wives for his astonishing victory, he humbly chose the latter saying that riches are easier to come by than good wives.
The figure of Nai Khanom Tom helps us distill the essence of Muay Thai. The pre-fight dance he performed was a ceremonial display of respect towards his ancestors as well as towards the spectators. His unknowing opponents were frightened by this silent, unsettling dance; he summoned an air of confidence and mystique which helped him win the fight long before it had even begun. Thus is the mindset of a Muay Thai warrior; respect and discipline are the shield with which he stuns his opponents and honours his friends.
On the other hand, his lightening fast, relentless attacks showered his opponents with a flurry of blows; creating an impression of posessing more than two arms. Naturally, Nai Khanom Tom never posessed more than two arms. However, he utilized all four limbs, including elbows and knees both as a means of offense and defense. This way he was able to attack from virtually any distance with unprecedented velocity, and always with an element of surprise. It is this peculiar use of fists, feet, knees, and elbows that sets Muay Thai apart from other oriental martial arts, earning it the name „Art of Eight Limbs”.
Nai Khanom Tom shows us the way of the Muay Thai champion. Clad in an armour of respect, confidence and disipline, wielding the art of the eight limbs, a Muay Thai warrior sets out on the journey towards self-perfection. Overcoming shortcomings by the day, nourishing virtues, while weeding out bad habits; a Muay Thai fighter is always on the lookout for chances of improvement. Muay Thai is not merely a means of self defense. As Nai Khanom Tom demonstrated, we strive to better ourself mentally, physically, and spiritually until we learn to enter the ring with silent confidence, and leave it with humble victory even in the face of deepest despair.