What is Muay Farang?

  1. Term for a non-Thai Muay Thai fighter.
  2. Term for non-Thai types of combat sports derived from Muay Thai.

Muay Farang as a term for foreign fighters

Muay Farang (Foreigner Muay) is a term for a non-Thai Muay Thai fighter. This often also refers to tourists who take part in Muay Thai courses during their holidays. Muay Farang is a derogatory term that has its roots in Thai national pride.

Muay Farang as a term for foreign Muay Thai

In order to promote tourism and shape the image of the country, the Thai government decided in the seventies and eighties of the twentieth century to promote Muay Thai abroad. Muay Thai (see also Muay Veti, Muay Rajadamnern, Muay Lumpinee) gained worldwide popularity as the “national sport of Thailand” or “toughest martial art in the world”.

As a result, various offshoots of Muay Thai emerged outside Thailand, which differ from the Muay Thai practiced in the country of origin Thailand.

Usually, this is, for example, a modified set of rules (e.B. changed round times or additional protective equipment), partly changed techniques (e.B. no elbow use or no knee techniques) and above all, from the point of view of the Thai, a different cultural understanding (e.g. no Wai Khru Ram Muay, no betting business or even a noticeably “non-Thai” fighting style).

These non-Thai offshoots of Muay are also positioned on the market by their practitioners as “Muay Thai” or “Thaiboxing”. However, from the perspective of the Thais, they have little in common with actual Muay Thai. In order to create a distinction to these non-pure and thus from the point of view of the Thai just not authentic Muay styles, the collective term “Muay Farang” was created, which, like the term for non-Thai fighters, is characterized by Thai national pride and a certain contempt.

For a fighting style to be classified as “Muay Farang”, it is sufficient for most Thais if the fighter, trainer or organizer is not a purebred Thai. Whether or not there is training or certification from Thai officials does not matter, because then the economic interests are in more important. Unless the general understanding of Thais changes fundamentally, it is and always will be Muay Farang.

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