The basics of Thailand's fierce sport

Muay Thai Rules

Being the national sport of Thailand, Muay Thai is regarded in almost every corner of the world where martial arts have influenced the people. Though Thai boxing or Muay Thai is a mortal type of stand-up combat style, some set of rules and principles contribute to the beauty of this game.

In simple words, Muay Thai rules were not written or made at a specific time. These rules were evolved over the course of time. There are many rules of modern-day Muay Thai which have not existed in the past.

A Muay Thai match consists of only five rounds. Each round contains 3 minutes. Two minutes are given as the rest period after each round. In Muay Thai, no additional time is given. When it comes to dressing, Muay Thai allows contestants to wear only the selective clothing or attire, including ankle cap, Mongkol (a sacred cord), and sufficient athletic equipment to protect gum groin. Shirts, shoes, and other harmful objects such as metal objects are not allowed to wear.


Thai Boxing


Muay Thai Rules – Let’s Decode

In this article, comprehensive information will be provided that allows anyone to familiarize themselves with the basics of Thai boxing.

The present-day Muay Thai contains many rules which briefly define and describe the acts of the fighters. Unlike the past, many rules have been made to ensure the safety of the competitors because the fatality rate of Muay Thai was once not normal.

Now, without wasting time, let’s discuss the fundamental rules and principles of Muay Thai.


Muay Thai


1. The Ring

Muay Thai is contested in a ring. Just like a boxing ring, Muay Thai’s ring is very similar to a boxing ring. The ring consists of four corners that are adequately cushioned. The height of the ring is almost 4 feet and 5 feet from the building floor. Three steps are required to reach the ring’s base.

Four ropes surround the ring on all four sides. Every rope is covered with cushioning material and rubber, which causes an elastic effect when fighters make contact.


Thai Boxing Rings


2. The Gloves

Depending upon the various weight divisions, the gloves weigh differently and are used in a particular division. There are mainly three categories that divide the gloves separately. These are;

Mini Flyweight to Junior Featherweight:
The contestants of this division wear gloves that weigh almost 132 grams (6 ounces).

Featherweight to Welterweight:
Competitors of this class use gloves that weigh 227 grams (8 ounces).

Junior Middleweight and Beyond:
The fighters of this category tend to wear gloves that carry almost 284 grams (10 ounces).


Two men boxers fighting with gloves


3. Dress Code

Whenever a Muay Thai fighter enters the ring, he should be wearing the recommended attire discussed below.

Boxers are allowed to wear only the shorts, and those shorts must be contrasting the shorts of the opponent in terms of colour. For the safety of the fighters, each fighter must wear a groin protector. In Muay Thai, beards or long hair are also prohibited.

The Mongkol (a sacred cord) is a fundamental component of Muay Thai’s dressing. It is a symbol of good luck. Fighters should wear the Mongkol to pay respect to their trainers or teachers. Players could wear elastic bandages to prevent sprains.

Those things that are made of metal are strictly prohibited from wearing in a Muay Thai match. Competitors cannot insert shin pads as well. Vaseline or any lubricant is not allowed to use before or during the game.

If any boxer does not follow the Muay Thai rule of dress code, then he faces disqualification, which could impact the combatant’s career.


Muay Thai dress


4. Cataloguing of Weight Divisions

Muay Thai rules, just like the game itself, are stringent and precise. There are a total of eighteen (18) categories of weight that start from Mini Flyweight to Super Heavyweight. A complete list of weight divisions is given below:

  • Mini Flyweight: 105 lbs
  • Junior Flyweight: 108 lbs
  • Flyweight: 112 lbs
  • Junior Bantamweight: 115 lbs
  • Bantamweight: 118 lbs
  • Junior Featherweight: 122 lbs
  • Featherweight: 126 lbs
  • Junior Lightweight: 130 lbs
  • Lightweight: 135 lbs
  • Junior Welterweight: 140 lbs
  • Welterweight: 147 lbs
  • Junior Middleweight: 154 lbs
  • Middleweight: 160 lbs
  • Super Middleweight: 168 lbs
  • Light Heavyweight: 175 lbs
  • Cruiserweight: 190 lbs
  • Heavyweight: 190 lbs+
  • Super Heavyweight: 209 lbs+

Before three hours of the match, each fighter is weighted without clothes to get the exact weight. Certified doctors examine the boxers before the Muay Thai match.

5. Wai Kru – The Essence of Thai Boxing

Before starting every Muay Thai match, the Muay Thai fighters are obliged to perform a traditional act of Wai Kru that is committed to paying respect and tribute to the teacher). It is executed with traditional music that includes Pee Java (Thai reed pipe), Ching (cymbal), and Klong Khaek (tom-tom).


Wai Kru in Muay Thai


6. The Scoring

The process of scoring is straightforward in Muay Thai matches. In order to understand, if judges consider that one fighter is the winner of a round, he is awarded ten points. In comparison, the other fighter receives points 7 to 9 depending upon his performance. If both boxers perform outstandingly, then every boxer is given 10 points.

7. Three Ways to Win

Just like the Muay Thai rules, the game is also very straightforward in winning matters. A boxer or fighter has three options to win the fight, and these are:

This is the oldest, simplest, and easiest way to win the match. By knocking out the opponent. One is quickly declared as the winner of a boxing match,

Technical Knockout:
This type of knockout is also known as TKO. When the match referee makes his own decision, he declares one of the two fighters cannot continue fighting.

The third way to win a Muay Thai match is based on points. The more you tally your points, the more the chances to grab the victory and improve your record. Different criteria are used to declare a fighter as the winner. This is officially done by a match’s judges. In case if both boxers receive the same points, then the game is declared as a draw. 

Sometimes, if a fighter receives a warning from the referee over fouls, then one point is deducted from his total points.


Women Muay Thai