Muay Thai or Thai boxing is a combat sport of Thailand that uses stand-up striking along with
various clinching techniques. This discipline is known as the "Art of Eight Limbs" because it
is characterized by the combined use of fists, elbows, knees and shins. Muay Thai became
widespread internationally in the twentieth century, when practitioners from Thailand began
competing in Kickboxing, mixed rules matches, as well as matches under Muay Thai rules around
the world. The professional league is governed by The Professional Boxing Association of
Thailand (P.A.T) sanctioned by The Sports Authority of Thailand (S.A.T.).
Formal Muay Thai techniques are divided into two groups: mae mai, or major techniques, and luk mai, or minor techniques. Muay Thai is often a fighting art of attrition, where opponents exchange blows with one another. This is certainly the case with traditional stylists in Thailand, but is a less popular form of fighting in the contemporary world fighting circuit where the Thai style of exchanging blow for blow is no longer favorable. Almost all techniques in Muay Thai use the entire body movement, rotating the hip with each kick, punch, elbow and block.
The punch techniques in Muay Thai were originally quite limited, being crosses and a long (or lazy) circular strike made with a straight (but not locked) arm and landing with the heel of the palm. Cross-fertilization with Western boxing and western martial arts mean the full range of western boxing punches are now used: lead jab, straight/cross, hook, uppercut, shovel and corkscrew punches and overhands as well as hammer fists and back fists.
As a tactic, body punching is used less in Muay Thai than most other striking combat sports to avoid exposing the attacker's head to counter strikes from knees or elbows. To utilize the range of targeting points, in keeping with the center line theory, the fighter can use either the Western or Thai stance which allows for either long range or short range attacks to be undertaken effectively without compromising guard.