Muay Thai is a combat sport from Thailand that uses stand-up striking along with various clinching techniques. It is similar to other Indochinese styles, namely pradal serey from Cambodia, tomoi from Malaysia, lethwei from Myanmar and Muay Lao from Laos. Descended from muay boran, Muay Thai is Thailand's national sport.
The word muay derives from the Sanskrit mavya. Muay Thai is referred to as the "Art of Eight Limbs" or the "Science Of Eight Limbs" because it makes use of punches, kicks, elbows and knee strikes, thus using eight "points of contact", as opposed to "two points" (fists) in boxing and "four points" (hands and feet) used in other more regulated martial arts sports, such as kickboxing, boxing, and savate. A practitioner of Muay Thai is known as a nak muay. Western practitioners are sometimes called nak muay farang, meaning "foreign boxer.
In Thailand, Muay Thai is a modern integration of traditional regional muays, be Muay Chaiya, Muay Korat, Muay Tarsao, Muay Jearng, which can be collectively called muay boran or "ancient boxing". Krabi krabong nevertheless was an important influence on Muay Boran and so Muay Thai can be seen in several kicks, holds and the movements in the wai khru which have their origins in armed combat.
Muay Thai, like boxing and various forms of kickboxing, is recognised as a very effective striking base within MMA, and is very widely trained among MMA fighters. Fighters (some of whom have won titles) such as Anderson Silva, Lyoto Machida, Wanderlei Silva, Mauricio Rua, Thiago Silva, Alistair Overeem, Jose Aldo, Amir Sadollah, Gina Carano, cristine cyborg santos, Chan Sung Jung(Known as Korean Jombie) employ a broad range of tactics born of Muay Thai. Countless other mixed martial artists have trained in the art, and it is often taught at MMA gyms as is BJJ and Wrestling.
Many techniques associated with Muay Thai are often seen in MMA, such as punches, elbows, clinch fighting, leg kicks and knees.
Interest in Muay Thai has risen in the past ten years, due to the popularity of martial arts in film and television. The most notable practitioner of Muay Thai is martial arts sensation, Tony Jaa. Yet one of the first popular films that included Muay Thai was Jean-Claude Van Damme's 1989 movie Kickboxer.
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