What's the difference between Muay Thai and Muay Boran? - Montrait Muay Thai

What’s the difference between Muay Thai and Muay Boran?

The Kru training his student in a muay thai gym

What’s the difference between Muay Thai and Muay Boran?

If you’ve ever been intrigued by the world of martial arts, you’ve likely come across Muay Thai and Muay Boran. These two Thai fighting arts share a rich history and cultural significance, yet they are distinct in many ways. 

Let’s unravel the complexities and nuances that set these two martial arts apart. From their origins to techniques, rules, and cultural impact, we’ll explore every facet to give you a wholesome understanding.

1. Origins and History

Muay Thai: The Modern Marvel

Muay Thai, often referred to as the “Art of Eight Limbs,” is a martial art that has gained international recognition. It originated in the mid-18th century and was influenced by military training. Over the years, it has evolved into a competition-based sport with specific rules and regulations. It is also practiced as an intense workout to help you lose fat in targeted areas of your body. 

Muay Boran: The Ancient Ancestor

Muay Boran, on the other hand, is the predecessor of Muay Thai and dates back to as early as the 16th century. It was developed for self-defense and used in warfare. Unlike Muay Thai, Muay Boran is not confined to a set of standardized rules, making it a more “free-form” martial art.

2. Techniques and Styles

While Muay Thai focuses on striking techniques using the fists, elbows, knees, and shins, Muay Boran encompasses a broader range of techniques, which include throws, joint locks, and even strikes to vulnerable areas like the eyes or throat. Styles can vary significantly depending on the region, such as Muay Chaiya, Muay Korat, and Muay Lopburi.

A muay thai trainer performing a shin kick in front of a student

3. Rules and Regulations

Muay Thai is governed by a specific set of rules, including weight classes, round lengths, and permissible strikes. Fighters wear gloves and shorts and compete in a ring.

On the other hand, Muay Boran has fewer rules and restrictions. Traditionally, fighters’ fists were wrapped in hemp rope, and the fighting area was less defined.

4. Training and Practicing

Training in Muay Thai is rigorous and structured, focusing on physical conditioning, pad work, and sparring. It’s common to see Muay Thai gyms equipped with heavy bags, pads, and a ring for sparring. Training in Muay Boran is less formalized but equally intense. It often includes practicing with wooden dummies and emphasizes real-world applications of techniques.

While both martial arts share a focus on striking and originate from Thailand, they diverge significantly in their approach to techniques, rules, and training. Muay Thai is more streamlined and sport-oriented, whereas Muay Boran is more comprehensive and geared towards self-defense.

5. Cultural Significance

Muay Thai is not just a sport; it’s a cornerstone of Thai culture. In Thailand, it’s celebrated with religious ceremonies and is a staple in major stadiums like Rajadamnern and Lumpinee. Internationally, its appeal has skyrocketed, gaining a diverse following and even securing a spot in global sports events, including the Olympics.

While Muay Boran may not share the international limelight, its cultural significance within Thailand is profound. Often showcased during cultural festivals, Muay Boran serves as a living testament to Thailand’s rich martial arts heritage. It’s a cherished art form that connects the Thai people to their ancient traditions and history.

While the world of traditional sports is constantly evolving, it is important to train for them with the same respect.