Muay Thai is one of the most popular sports on the planet. Boasting a rich history alongside truly amazing techniques, competitions are frequently held in various parts of the world.
Like any modern sport, there are certain rules and regulations that must be adhered to during the match.
Let us therefore have an in-depth look at some examples of the most prevalent and important and rules.
Amateur Muay Thai
(Please note that all of these rules are officially sanctioned by the International Federation of Muaythai Amateur (IMFA). Subordinate organisations such as the European Muaythai Federation must adhere to these regulations as well.)
Before delving into specifics, it is wise to appreciate some of the more fundamental rules. Any formal match must take no longer than three minutes to complete and there is a maximum of five rounds permitted. Competitors will rest a full two minutes between each round. The gloves of either fighter must weigh six ounces or more (172 grams). It is forbidden the the gloves be kneaded, squeezed or otherwise changed shape. Trunks of red or blue are the only two colours allowed. These will depend upon the corner from which the boxer is fighting. Although ankle caps can be worn, the contestants must not wear any type of shirt. The Mongkol (a traditional ornament displayed at the beginning of a fight) must be removed before the first round can begin. As in most contact sports, a groin cup or similar athletic supporter is mandatory.
Rules of the Ring Itself
Muay Thai is quite strict in terms of the design of the boxing ring. Each side can be either 20 or 24 feet in length (6.1 or 7.3 metres). This determines whether the ring is “small” or “large”. Three feet (91 centimetres) of space must be provided between the exterior of the ring and the audience. Each corner needs to be free of any obstructions that could potentially harm the combatants. Every one of the corner posts will likewise be provided with the proper amount of cushioning. The floor should be at least 1.5 centimetres thick and comprised of rubber, cloth or a similar soft substance. Finally, four ropes are required between each post. These ropes also should be covered with a soft material.
The Attire of the Boxer
There are several rules governing how the boxer should appear and what he or she is permitted to wear. For example, all contestants must have short hair. Long hair and beards are not allowed. All types of jewellery are absolutely forbidden in the ring. While the traditional head ornament is allowed during the traditional prayer ceremony, it needs to be removed and placed outside of the ring before the match can commence. Although elastic bandages can be worn (on the forearm or shins for example), any type of support such as a brace is considered illegal. The use of agents including wax, Vaseline or fat is prohibited; they may give one boxer an unfair advantage. We should note that a violation of these rules will cause the match to immediately be suspended. However, an issue with the weight or shape of the gloves may only cause a temporary halt to the competition until the problem is rectified.
The Classification of Weight Divisions
Muay Thai is known for having numerous different weight divisions. This was not always the case, but official rules state that such categories will help to provide more fair fights between athletes of similar sizes. These bullet points outline some of the main categories:
Mini Flyweight: 47.7 kilogrammes.
Flyweight: 50.8 kilogrammes.
Bantamweight: 53.5 kilogrammes.
Featherweight: 57 kilogrammes.
Lightweight: 61 kilogrammes.
Welterweight: 66.6 kilogrammes.
Middleweight: 71.5 kilogrammes.
Heavyweight: 81.6 kilogrammes and up.
All boxers will need to be weighed in without clothes three hours before the match. If one fails to make weight, he or she may ask to be reweighed.
The Wai Kru Prayer
It is also mandatory that a set of traditional prayers known as the Wai Kru be performed by each fighter before the match begins. This is meant to show respect to the teacher and the Mongkol headdress is worn during this time. Musical instruments such as the ching (cymbal) and the Pee Java (a type of Thai reed pipe) are permitted.
The Eligibility to Fight
Another important set of rules is intended to keep the fighter safe. First and foremost, any boxer needs to prove that he or she is at least 15 years old before entering the ring. A minimum weight of 43.5 kilogrammes (100 pounds) is also necessary. Any physical disabilities are forbidden and medical examiners will assess the health of all patients as determined by the regulations of the World Muay Thai Council.
There are two other individuals besides the main trainer who are known as “seconds”. These helpers are only allowed to address the attire of the boxer while in between the rounds. They are forbidden to speak to the boxer in any way regarding tips, advice or instruction. Should this occur, the entire team may very well be disqualified. Also, the seconds are not allowed to talk to any one outside of the ring. These helpers are also responsible for removing all water bottles and towels from the ring before subsequent rounds commence.
The primary job of the referee is to make certain that both fighters remain safe during the bout. He must wear the official uniform while glasses and any type of jewellery is prohibited. He is required to be fair to both parties and show no signs of bias towards one fighter or the other. Should a weaker fighter suffer a potentially serious injury, the referee will stop the match immediately. He is also responsible to make sure the the gloves fall within regulations. There are three commands that are universally recognised throughout the world of Muay Thai. These are “STOP”, “FIGHT”, and “BREAK”. Hand signals are also used to make sure that the competitors are aware of these commands. Should the referee accidentally become harmed during a match, it is the responsibility of the senior judge to take over his role.
While this section can be a bit complicated, it is still worthwhile to review the basic components of how a match is scored by the judges. There are several instances when a specific strike will signify a point. These are:
a hard and accurate strike that reflects Thai boxing.
Dominating and aggressive Muay Thai skill.
The display of traditional defences and counter attacks.
There are also non-scoring strikes. These include defensive strikes, weak strikes and any strike that is prohibited in the rules.
Similarly, there are some situations when a foul could be called. This is normally seen by the referee and forwarded to the judges. However, the judges themselves may note a foul that the referee missed. In this case, a deduction will occur as normal. Some fouls include head butts, eye gouging, biting or holding. Groin strikes are prohibited and the boxer must not intentionally hold on to the ropes during the match.
A Knock Down
A knock down occurs when any other part of the body besides the feet touch the floor. Other instances can be when a boxer is unconscious and leaning against the ropes or he cannot adequately defend himself as determined by the referee. A count from 1 to 10 will be given at one-second intervals. If the boxer reaches a count of ten and cannot continue, the match will be stopped. If he does not fully understand the commands of the referee, it will likewise cease. Even if the boxer claims that he is fine, he still cannot resume the match until a count of eight her been reached.
These are some of the most important rules regarding Muay Thai boxing. Of course, there are more detailed versions that can be found online via official organisation websites. The ultimate goal of these rules if to guarantee the fairness of the fight as well as the safety of both competitors. Anyone who is thinking about competing in such an event should always understand each and every regulation.