Muay Boran literally means ancient boxing or boxing old-style. It is a traditional form of Muay Thai still taught in Thailand.
As Muay Thai boxing became standardized and internationalized, absorbing many elements of Western boxing some looked back fondly to the days of fewer rules and Muay Kaad Chuek (bound-fist fighting). And so, Muay Boran is essentially an effort to preserve the boxing techniques from Muay Thais history before the introduction of formalised rules and gloves in the 1930s. Muay Boran is the predecessor to modern day Muay Thai boxing.
Muay Kaad Chuek – No gloves boxing
During the Ayuthaya era came the introduction of Muay Kaad Chuek. That is the use of unrefined hemp wrappings to protect the fingers and wrists. A length of around 20 metres was enough to bind one hand. The use of Muay Kaad Chuek quickly spread, as a bound fist is tougher, stronger and better protected against injury than an unbound one. It is said that before a contest fighters immersed their fists in water. This would cause the binding to harden when it dried, making it capable of producing serious injury. Some people go further and claim that fighters dipped their hands in glue and ground glass.
Such a contest would certainly have made a gory sight! To this day an annual Muay Kaad Chuek contest with Laos is held in Nong Khai near the NE border with Laos, on the Thai side of the Mekong River. A Muay Kaad Chuek contest with Burma is staged in the Mae Sot, western Thailand, during the Sonkran (Thai New Year) festivities (April 12-14). Boxers fight until knockout. If both competitors remain standing at the end of the bout a match is declared a draw.