The Muay Boran is a form of unarmed combat originating in ancient Thailand. It was the precursor to Muay Thai, which is still practiced today.

Muay Boran was developed as a complete system with full-contact sparring that included punching, elbow strikes, kicking, and kneeing.

Muay Boran practitioners do not use weapons or padded gloves. Instead, their focus is on hand strikes, elbow strikes, and kicking techniques using feet and legs.

Which are the Muay Boran Fighting Techniques?

Unlike Muay Thai, which is the art of Eight Limbs” (two fists, two feet, two elbows, and two knees), Muay Boran incorporates an extra limb; the head. As such, it is renowned as the martial art of “Nine Limbs.”

Muay Boran involves a large number of techniques that can be applied to multiple situations, with the hands and feet being particularly versatile weapons. The most common uses for these weapons are striking, trapping, and grappling ability.

As such, Muay Boran involves a wide range of fighting techniques, enhanced by the application of many drills. The fundamental techniques of Muay Boran are divided into two groups;

  • Mae Mai- Basic Techniques
  • Look Mai- Advanced Techniques

Both techniques employ counter moves for defense and attack. The main goal of Muay Boran is to inflict pain on an opponent through multiple strikes, with the intent of ending a fight. With each technique, there are variations of styles employed.

Mae Mai

1. Hak Nguang Aiyara (Breaking the Elephant’s Trunk)

The technique involves holding an attacker’s leg from a middle kick position and applying an elbow strike to the thigh muscles of the caught leg. This action resembles breaking an elephant’s trunk.

2. Jorakhe Fad Hang (Crocodile Tail Kick)

Jorakhe employs a spinning back kick aimed at the opponent’s head or neck area. The leg is straightened, and the tip of the heel is aimed at the target.

The strength of this kick depends on how much the leg is extended. It can also be used to attack an opponent from behind, in which case it would resemble a crocodile tail. This technique requires a lot of body strength due to its spinning motion.

3. Nao Taeng Krit (Piercing the Dagger)

In this style, the boxer employs a defensive arm to block an opponent’s punch. Simultaneously, he uses his elbow to strike the attacker’s ribs and chest in a piercing dagger motion.

Look Mai Techniques

1. Hanuman Thawai Waen (Monkey Presents the Ring)

Named after the Hindu God, Hanuman resembles an uppercut; however, it employs two hands. The points aimed at are the opponent’s throat or chin.

This technique can be turned into a flurry of attacks if the two hands are combined. The emphasis here is on accuracy rather than power.

2. Ruesi Bod Ya

Ruesi Bod Ya is a Thai phrase that means “hermit-crushing medicine.” The technique employs hopping onto the attacker’s knee and delivering an elbow strike right on top of their skull.

The technique is used as a finisher stance for Muay Boran to incapacitate an opponent.

3. Hirun Muan Phaendin (Flipping the Earth)

Here, the boxer makes a 180-degree elbow-flipping turn that lands on the opponent’s neck or throat. This move flips the earth around the attacker.

4. Hong Peek Hak (Breaking the Swan’s Wing)

The technique involves intercepting a punch and, in turn, launching an elbow strike to the shoulder of the punching arm (Breaking the Swan’s wing).

If the elbow makes a perfect landing, this could lead to the dislocation of the opponent’s arm.

Muay Boran Variations

Muay Boran was a collection of Thai Boxing techniques, and thus, there are many variations to the style. Majorly known variations are;

  • Muay Thasao- It is a speed-based Muay Boran variation with an emphasis on the fluidity of moves.
  • Muay Chaiya- involves the use of a weapons system, Krabi Krabong. Also employs the use of elbows and knee strikes.
  • Muay Lopburi- emphasizes the efficient use of kicks and punches.
  • Muay Korat- Employs force and heavy punches.


Muay Boran is a martial art that is brutal and employs deadly techniques. The emphasis here is on inflicting maximum pain on an opponent to finish a fight quickly.

As such, Muay Boran is not for beginners who are inexperienced in sparring. In Muay Boran, fights remain to be full-contact with no restrictions on attacks.

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