Muay Thai: “Intangible Cultural Heritage” 

Hurts Like Hell
Muay Thai: Thailand’s Word-Famous "Intangible Cultural Heritage"

Netflix’s limited series Hurts Like Hell is a 4-episode semi-docuseries that takes viewers behind-the-scenes into Muay Thai (Thai boxing) industry to share never-before-seen perspectives that reveal the pain and the beauty of this increasingly-popular combat sport.

Muay Thai is a world-famous combat sport from Thailand that uses 9 fighting techniques called “Nawa Awut” (9 weapons), consisting of 2 fists, 2 elbows, 2 knees, 2 feet, and a head. However, after a rule revision forbade headbutting for safety reasons, it became known as the “Art of Eight Limbs” instead.

Muay-Thai, Thai Boxing

Before boxers used boxing gloves as they do nowadays, they used to fight with bare hands. This meant that expertise and skill were more important than physical strength and forced boxers to showcase their defense and attack techniques, which are the important basics of Muay Thai. Over time, the art of Muay Thai was categorized into the 15 techniques of Mae Mai Muay Thai (Muay Thai Art).

Each technique is named after its characteristic movement, like the Crocodile Tail Whip (kicking to defend against punches), Mon Pushes the Pillar (foot-thrusting to defend against punches), Breaking the Elephant’s Trunk (elbowing the thigh), Inao Stabs His Kris (closeup elbowing), and many more.

Thailand’s intangible cultural heritage prowess

Muay Thai is an ancient sport that became popular during the Sukhothai and early Rattanakosin period. In 2010, The Department of Cultural Promotion under the Ministry of Culture announced that Muay Thai was to be registered as part of Thailand’s National Cultural Heritage (Folk Sports, Games, and Martial Arts) in recognition of the knowledge and value that evolved and was passed down across generations as Muay Thai became one of the world’s leading martial arts.

Moreover, the Thai government also set the 6th of February each year as “Muay Thai Day” to coincide with the coronation day of King Suriyenthrathibodi (Sanphet VIII, a.k.a. Tiger King) and celebrate his boxing skills. The Tiger King is the only Thai monarch ever to compete with commoners. He also wrote “The Boxing Book by Tiger King” whose techniques have been inherited and are still used by boxers today.

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