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Muay Thai

To Westerners, Thai martial arts is Thai kickboxing or, as it is more commonly known, muay Thai. However, muay Thai is technically not a martial art. Instead, it is a sport that’s been around since 1930. Its techniques are taken from the more lethal art of muay boran, which originated from the older fighting style of ling lom (air monkey) via the ancient mother art of krabi krabong (stick and sword fighting).

Thai fighting arts evolved because of the country’s historical conflicts with Burma. Muay Thai’s ancestral arts were first described in King Ramkamheng’s (1275-1317) Book of War Learning. In 1560, King Nareusan was captured by the Burmese. He was released when he defeated the top Burmese boxers. It was this event that brought about the birth of muay Thai. However, a similar story describes how Nai Khanom Tom took on 12 Burmese fighters while imprisoned in Burma and was released in 1560.

Although the ancient forms of muay Thai are Buddhist in nature, ling lom has its foundation in the Hindu legend of Ramayana, specifically the monkey god Hanuman, wherein the muay Thai fights traditionally re-enacted the battling gods.

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  1. Felice Herrig: Former Muay Thai Kickboxer Is Now a Female MMA Fighter

    Felice Herrig: Former Muay Thai Kickboxer Is Now a Female MMA Fighter

    Anyone who watched the Oxygen network’s Fight Girls reality-TV series remembers Felice Herrig. She fared well training under Master Toddy and actually defeated her opponent, a Thai champion. Soon afterward, she made the jump from muay Thai to MMA.
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  2. Learn 3 Grappling Techniques From UFC Star Chael Sonnen

    Learn 3 Grappling Techniques From UFC Star Chael Sonnen

    Chael Sonnen isn’t your typical politician. For one, he actually answered our questions. But more important, the All-American wrestler from Oregon taught us some of the best tricks from his playbook.

    Despite his reputation as one of the UFC’s loudest stars, he doesn’t have a bad word to say about
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  3. Dr. Mark Cheng’s Top 10 Martial Arts for Self-Defense

    Dr. Mark Cheng’s Top 10 Martial Arts for Self-Defense

    Almost every day at Black Belt, we’re asked the same question: “What’s the best martial art for self-defense?” To find out the answer, we asked Dr. Mark Cheng, an expert in Chinese medicine and martial arts.

    “I chose the following arts because of my personal experience with them,” Dr. Mark Cheng
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  4. Muay Boran Technique and Accessories Demonstration

    Muay Boran Technique and Accessories Demonstration

    Col. Nattapong Buayam, a former Thai spec-ops hand-to-hand and weapons instructor, trained elite troops in Southeast Asia on the combative essence of krabi krabong (Thai traditional weaponry) and muay Boran (the forefather to muay Thai) for decades. The aggressive footwork and rapid-fire weapon attacks make it a nightmare to defend
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  5. Antonio Graceffo Travels to Thailand (Part 1)

    Antonio Graceffo Travels to Thailand (Part 1)

    Antonio Graceffo takes you to the other side of the world in this video supplement for his Destinations column, appearing monthly in Black Belt magazine. In Part 1 of his trip to Thailand, he discusses martial arts training and the variety of styles available to partake in, including muay Thai,
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  6. “Mack” Shows You How to Counter a Muay Thai Kick

    “Mack” Shows You How to Counter a Muay Thai Kick

    Richard “Mack” Machowicz, an ex-Navy SEAL and former host of the cable-TV series Future Weapons, as well as a student of taekwondo, muay Thai, kali, boxing, Brazilian jiu-jitsu and Paul Vunak’s jeet kune do, shows how counter a muay Thai kick in this exclusive footage from the cover shoot for
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  7. Learn UFC Champ Georges St-Pierre’s MMA Training Tactics

    Learn UFC Champ Georges St-Pierre’s MMA Training Tactics

    Even if you’re not a fan of the Ultimate Fighting Championship, by now you’ve probably heard about the ease with which Georges St-Pierre systematically dismantled B.J. Penn at the UFC 94. The victory is just part of a five-bout winning streak for the 27-year-old Canadian karateka. If that doesn’t sound
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  8. Master Toddy: “The Cobra” Technique (Part 3)

    Master Toddy: “The Cobra” Technique (Part 3)

    Famed muay Thai instructor and character-at-large Master Toddy, who’s trained MMA fighters Felice Herrig, Maurice Smith, Gina Carano, Marvin Eastman, Lisa King and many others, talks about training his fighters using a technique called “The Cobra.” In this third installment, he and Black Belt Executive Editor Robert Young discuss some
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  9. Master Toddy: “The Cobra” Technique (Part 2)

    Master Toddy: “The Cobra” Technique (Part 2)

    Famed muay Thai instructor and character-at-large Master Toddy, who’s trained MMA fighters Felice Herrig, Maurice Smith, Gina Carano, Marvin Eastman, Lisa King and many others, talks about training his fighters using a technique called “The Cobra.” In this second installment, he focuses on how the Cobra works with other strikes,
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  10. Master Toddy: “The Cobra” Technique (Part 1)

    Master Toddy: “The Cobra” Technique (Part 1)

    Famed muay Thai instructor and character-at-large Master Toddy, who’s trained MMA fighters Felice Herrig, Maurice Smith, Gina Carano, Marvin Eastman, Lisa King and many others, talks about training his fighters using a technique called “The Cobra.” In this first installment, he focuses mainly on what the Cobra is and how
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