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Michael Stolberg
Michael Stolberg's picture
Muay Thai Boran forms


I saw this video of Muay Thai Boran on youtube.

It depicts a form. I found the following things interesting in the form's relation to Karate forms

Before you read on please be aware that when I use the term "form" I am refering to a form as a kata or sequence of movements as opposed to the way the term is used in the video where it means a particular movement.

1. Notice that the form begins and ends with a salute and a "ready position" 

2. Notice the "rising block" (0:12) (I also find it interesting how the commentator refers to many movements as blocks e.g. "double X block", has the idea that forms consist mainly of blocks permeated even Thai forms? Also in the application demonstarations the tori uses the "rising block" as a block against a face level attack). Also I would argue that the X-block seems to be ineffective as a block against the double attack i.e. the uke seems to stop short of tori's head (3:43)

3. Notice the "square block" (0:20) which is almost identical to the 1st move of Heian Nidan/ Pinan Shodan. In the application part it is used as Iain's secondary bunkai application of this movemnt from the kata as shown the the Bunkai-Jutsu vol.1 DVD.

4. Notice the use of hikite (3:10) and limb control (3:20)

5. The use of angles seems to be important and moreover the tori makes great uses of this strategy in the application of the movements e.g. (3:35)

Additionaly I would say that some of the leg techniques are inefectively applied e.g. knee strike to pectoral muscle or shoulder (3:51) and round house kick to the shoulder blade (3:56). Could it be that both attacks are supposed to be for the opponent's head which is lowered to chest level but that the practitioners are unaware of this just like often karatekas will apply a middle level punch to the chest when it is really intended for a head that was brought down to chest level?

Also the 2nd form, starting at (4:48), depicted makes great use of very high level kicks which demand great athleticism which do not have their place in a functional self-protection system (does anyone know if Muay Thai Boran, which I assume is at least partly different from Muay Thai (or at least the ring sport part of it), is supposed to be such a system or is it more of a martial i.e. warfare art which still would not explain the use of these kicks) 

Would love to hear comments. 

Does anyone here have any experience with Muay Thai forms? 



Iain Abernethy
Iain Abernethy's picture

I found that a very interesting video and this is definitely something I’d like to know more about. Perhaps some of our members who have studied Muay Thai can shed a little extra light on things and recommend some good sources of information?

I did a quick web search and wikipedia has a page that may be of interest: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Muay_boran

This paragraph stood out as we can see some parallels with karate’s development (and Judo, Boxing, etc too):

“Traditionally, Muay Thai masters would teach the techniques of muay boran to advanced students but this is not often done today. Professional boxers consider it a waste of training time for them to learn techniques that they won't be able to use in competitions and tournaments. Even in Thailand it is becoming increasingly difficult to find a school willing to teach it; they prefer to focus on "modern" Muay Thai, as this is more easily exploitable as a form of income. A number of styles and techniques have been lost,”

Interesting stuff this Michael and thanks for sharing!

All the best,


miket's picture

Persoanlly, I am convinced that the culktural context in hiostoric Asia was a lot more fluid than we give credit for. It's reasonable to suppose that there were... call them 'connections' between cultures, and therefore, between the artys of different cultures.  For instance, consider the Japanese settlement in Siam and the Red Seal ships (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Red_seal_ships). 

So, beofre its evolution into a modern ring sport, its reasonable to suppose that 'kata' or somekind (perhaps the kind illustrated) might have been used in BOTH nascent thai boxing and nascent karate.

Another thing I have always been interested in is the 'French connection' to Indochina and therefore, potentially, between Savate and other arts, the way that Spanish culture ultimately came to influence, be influenced by, and ultimately fuse with the indigenous arts of the Phillipines. That one is pure speculation on my part however, and so far as I know, impossible to substantiate.

I like the forms that are illustrated, and one thing I noted is that they are direct combat rehearsals.  Personally, my beleif is that this is the form that 'original' kata / forms took in most cultrues.

Another point is that 'Western' knowledge of Thai/ Siamese (or earlier) history is in very early stages, so therefore, without criticizng you vid, I tend to take everything I see presented as fact with a grain of salt... consider 40 years of misinformation and rumor similarly presented as 'fact' in western karate.

Nice find. 

Zach Zinn
Zach Zinn's picture

e wrote:
I like the forms that are illustrated, and one thing I noted is that they are direct combat rehearsals.  Personally, my beleif is that this is the form that 'original' kata / forms took in most cultrues.

You could argue that this is basically what Karate kata look like when you remove the embusen and the repatitions, couldn't you?

I thought it was funny that it had beginnings and ending with heiko-kamae..anyone know any history there? I had always assumed heiko was a Japanese and Okinawan thing, I haven't seen any Chinese forms yet starting with it, though admittedly, haven't seen that many Chinese forms.

Michael Stolberg
Michael Stolberg's picture


well I'm glad that I sparked some interest within the forum (though not as much as I thought) I guess we don't have any experts on Thai combat arts here...

On another note I found another set of videos and can make the following preliminary comments:

- the "dance" that precedes the fights looks like a highly ritualized warm-up/stretching routine.

- the posture at (2:50) on the Muay Thai video looks exactly like the stance and arm motion in the openning move of Shotokan's Sochin (0:25) in the video of Sochin below.

Muay Thai Video:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LYNdZcpHrGI [I could not embed this one - Iain]

Shotokan Sochin video:

By the way the Muay Thai video is part of a set of 6 videos which themselves are a part of a set of videos. These can all be viewed from the Muay Thai video user's youtube page


Black Tiger
Black Tiger's picture

Good Find

After Speaking to a good friend of mine, who is a Muay Thai Instructor for over 30 years (and has a Home in Thailand too) about the videos on Muay Thai/Boran forms.

He said "These are recent inventions from people wanting to "cash in" on the whole "Muay Boran" ethos as highlighted by Tony Jaa. The 2 person Mai Mae and Luke Mai techniques are the Muay Thai Version of forms. He contiuned to add that Muay Boran is just Muay Thai in "Fisherman's Pants""

Looking at it from my own experience of Muay Thai and Karate, I would say that the forms look very similar to Ashihara Karate Kata.


DaveB's picture

Hello all. While I can't speak to the history or authenticity of the forms shown, I can't see much wrong with them tactically. I think high kicks are as useful in self defence as the culture and competency of the fighter allows them to be. I also can't see what is wrong with blocks simply being blocks if the tactics being employed make good use of them. I think the problem occurs in karate where anything not a punch kick or chop was called a "block" and "blocks" occured 2 and 4 in a row with no logical explanation. I don't see the same situation in this thai form.