The sheer spectacle of physicality and pomp (complete with wild musical accompaniment) that is the phenomenon of Muay Thai is something that must be witnessed to be believed. Even travelers who aren’t ordinarily interested in combat sports should go out on a limb and count themselves among the frenzied crowds of enthusiasts and gamblers (most attendees are both) that fill the stadiums all over Thailand.
With a tradition that dates back to the 15th century (where it was employed in combat between Thailand and Burma), modern Muay Thai features bouts consisting of five three-minute rounds separated with two-minute breaks. Common blows include knee hooks, elbow thrusts to the head and neck, and flying high kicks of astonishing martial severity.
Often referred to as “the Art of Eight Limbs” or “the Science of Eight Limbs”, the sport features more points of contact than western boxing or other forms of martial arts that do not make use of elbows or knees. The most popular venues in Thai kickboxing in Bangkok are Lumpini and Ratchadamneon Stadiums. Lumpini is operated by the Royal Thai Army on behalf of the Thai Government, and claims to be the symbol of modern Muay Thai. There are countless opportunities to take in the sport at smaller venues throughout the country.