Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Thai Kickboxing: The Body As a Lethal Weapon

Thai Kickboxing (Muay Thai) is one of the remarkable features of Thailand's culture. Earliest accounts tells of the Thai children being encouraged to use their bodies to play games, thus the development of the basic exercises for their induction into Muay Thai in later years.

Thai Kickboxing is more about being acquainted with the body's weak and strong points in preparation for the art of unarmed combat. The body is divided into the nine principle weapons (Nawa Attawat): head, two fists, two elbows, two knees and two feet. There are combination weapons that can be used together with the primary ones. The combination weapons are the shoulders, arms, outer parts of the ankle and even the bottom.

The typical Thai Kickboxing move is the shin kick. The practitioner intends and exhibits a focused kick on the shins of the opponent in the objective of crippling his movement. Thai boxers, who have not trained enough, often fall on the ground when delivered a powerful shin blow. That is why no Thai kickboxer enters the ring without proper shin conditioning.

Mastering Thai kickboxing is not an easy task and requires complete dedication. The training is hard and long. Students are subjected to a punishing regime that includes shadow boxing, running and plenty of bag work. There are drills that one has to practice with Thai pads.

These Thai pads weigh five to ten pounds and cover the wearer's forearm. The trainer usually wears them to absorb the student's kicks, punches and other strikes. At times, the trainer uses them to punch the trainees too. These pads are in a way similar to boxing mitts worn by the modern boxers. So is the training.

Interestingly, there is little or no free sparring in Muay Thai training. Students usually box wearing ordinary boxing gloves. Another popular technique is to grapple standing up with the aim being to land a kick on the knee. However, such kicks and contacts are not overly encouraged.

So if you are planning on learning Thai Kickboxing be prepared for a grueling regimen. More importantly be prepared for the consequences of an art form that was born to meet the needs of the battlefield. Such an art form cannot be anything but potentially lethal. So either steel yourself for the kicks and punches or kick your desire to learn this martial art.

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