Muay Thai (Thai: RTGS: Muai Thai, IPA: , lit. Thai Boxing) is a form of hard martial art practiced in large parts of the world, including Thailand and other Southeast Asian countries. The art is similar to others in Southeast Asia such as: pradal serey in Cambodia, lethwei in Myanmar, tomoi in Malaysia and Lao boxing in Laos. Muay Thai has a long history in Thailand and is the country's national sport. Traditional Muay Thai practiced today varies significantly from the ancient art muay boran and uses kicks and punches in a ring with gloves similar to those used in Western boxing. Muay Thai is referred to as "The Art of Eight Limbs", as the hands, shins, elbows, and knees are all used extensively in this art. A practitioner of Muay Thai ("nak muay") thus has the ability to execute strikes using eight "points of contact," as opposed to "two points" (fists) in Western boxing and "four points" (fists, feet) used in the primarily sport-oriented forms of martial arts. A practitioner of Muay Thai who is not of Thai nationality or race, is known as a Falang Nak Muay (foreign boxer). History: Various forms of kickboxing have long been practiced throughout Southeast Asia. As with most countries in the region, Thai culture is highly influenced by ancient civilizations within Southeast Asia. The origin of Muay Thai is unclear. One theory is that it was with the Tai people before the Tai immigration to Southeast Asia from China. Another is that it was adopted and modified off of Khmer martial arts when Thai culture was influenced by Khmer culture. A third theory is that a little bit of both the first and second theory occurred. Muay Thai evolved from its ancestor Muay Boran ("ancient boxing"), an unarmed combat used by Siamese soldiers in conjunction with Krabi Krabong. There is a phrase about Muay Boran that states, "Punch Korat, Wit Lopburi, Posture Chaiya, Faster Thasao. . As well as continuing to function as a practical fighting technique for use in actual warfare, Muay Thai became a sport in which the opponents fought in front of spectators who went to watch for entertainment. This kind of muay contests gradually became an integral part of local festivals and celebrations, especially those held at temples. It was even used as entertainment to kings. Eventually, the previously bare-fisted fighters started wearing lengths of rope wrapped around their hands and forearms. This type of match was called muay kaad chuek. Royal Muay: Muay gradually became a possible means of personal advancement as the nobility increasingly esteemed skillful practitioners of the art and invited selected fighters to come to live in the Royal palace to teach muay to the staff of the royal household, soldiers, princess or the king's personal guards. This "royal muay" was called muay luang . Some time during the Ayutthaya Period, a platoon of royal guards was established, whose duty was to protect king and the country. They were known as Grom Nak Muay (Muay Fighters' Regiment). This royal patronage of muay continued through the reigns of Rama V and VII. Muay Renaissance: The ascension of King Chulalongkorn (Rama V) to the throne in 1868 ushered in a Golden Age not only for muay but for the whole country of Thailand. Muay progressed greatly during the reign of Rama V as a direct result of the king's personal interest in the art. The country was at peace and muay functioned as a means of physical exercise, self-defense, recreation, and personal advancement. Masters of the art such as former fighters or soldiers began teaching muay in training camps where students were provided with food and shelter. Trainees would be treated as one family and it was customary for students to adopt the camp's name as their own surname. Legendary heroes: At the time of the fall of the ancient Siam capital of Ayutthaya in 1763, the invading Burmese troops rounded up a group of Thai residents and took them as prisoners. Among them were a large number of Thai boxers, who were taken by the Burmese to the city of Ungwa. In 1774, in the Burmese city of Rangoon, the king of the Burmese, Hsinbyushin (known in Thai as "King Mangra"), decided to organize a seven-day, seven-night religious festival in honor of Buddha's relics. The festivities included many forms of entertainment, such as the costume plays called likay, comedies and farces, and sword-fighting matches. At one point, King Hsinbyushin wanted to see how Muay Boran would compare to the Burmese art Lethwei. Nai Khanom Tom was selected to fight against the Burmese champion. The boxing ring was set up in front of the throne and Nai Khanom Tom did a traditional Wai Kru pre-fight dance, to pay his respects to the Burmese king, as well as for all the spectators, dancing around his opponent, which amazed and perplexed all the Burmese people. When the fight began, he charged out, using punches, kicks, elbows, and knees, pummeling his opponent until he collapsed. The referee however stated that the Burmese opponent was too distracted by the Wai Kru, and the knockout was invalid. The King then asked if Nai Khanom Tom would fight nine other Burmese champions to prove himself. He agreed and fought them all, one after the other with no rest periods in between. His last opponent was a great boxing teacher from Ya Kai City. Nai Khanom Tom mangled him by his kicks and no one else dared to challenge him any further. King Mangra was so impressed that he remarked, "Every part of the Thai is blessed with venom. Even with his bare hands, he can fell nine or ten opponents. But his Lord was incompetent and lost the country to the enemy. If he would have been any good, there was no way the City of Ayutthaya would ever have fallen." King Mangra granted Nai Khanom Tom freedom along with either riches or two beautiful Burmese wives. Nai Khanom Tom chose the wives as he said that money was easier to find. He then departed with his wives for Siam. Other variations of this story had him also winning the release of his fellow Thai prisoners. His feat is celebrated every March 17 as "Boxer's Day" or "National Muay Thai Day" in his honor and that of Muay Thai's. Today, some have wrongly attributed the legend of "Nai Khanom Tom" to King Naresuan, who was once taken by the Burmese. However, Nai Khanom Tom and King Naresuan were almost two centuries apart. (As their name they are "legends" and there is no concrete proof in this concern, however it is sure that there have been many fighters kept in the kingdom for entertainment purposes as keeping wrestlers in other kingdoms worldwide. The most important "rennaissance" is the erection of modern "fight stadiums" such as "rajandamnern" and "lumpini" after 1950's with the erection of those stadiums the task is oriented to improve the "technics, capability etc" of fighters considering the needs and backbone of muay thai, many techniques have been created, adopted especially from wrestling.