Muay Thai is referred to as “The Art of Eight Limbs”; and using eight points of contact the body mimics weapons of war. The hands become the sword and dagger; the shins and forearms were hardened in training to act as armor against blows, and the elbow to fall on opponents like a heavy mace or hammer; the legs and knees became the axes and staff. The body operated as one unit. The knees and elbows constantly searching and testing for an opening while grappling and trying to spin an enemy to the ground for the kill.
The King of Thailand is an avid fan of Muay Thai. Since being crowned its popularity has grown more than in any other era in history.
In 1238 (Buddhist years), the first Thai army was created in the northern city of Sukhothai, Siam being its capital. The recorded history shows that a need to defend the capital city was spawned by many wars being fought between neighboring tribes and kingdoms. The Siamese army was created to protect the government and its inhabitants within the city and surrounding villages. Soldiers were taught hand-to-hand combat and how to use weapons, as well as how to use the entire body as a weapon. Their training is what eventually evolved into Muay Thai and Krabi Krabong.
Learning the military arts or “Muay Thai” became engrained in the culture of the early Siamese people. With the constant threat of war, training centers slowly began to appear throughout the kingdom. These were the first Muay Thai camps. Young men practiced the art form for various reasons: self-defense, exercise, discipline; monks even instructed at many Buddhist temples, passing down knowledge and history from one generation to the next.
As Muay Thai became popular with the poor and common people, it also became a required staple for the high-class and royalty. The two sons of King Phokhun Sri In Tharatit, the first King of Sukhothai, were sent to learn at the Samakorn training center. The common idea was those good warriors made brave leaders and this would prepare them as future rulers of the kingdom.