What does Muai / Muay mean?

The free translation of the term Muai or Muay describes entangled hair, which was braided in a tuber. In the further use of this term it describes a “wrestling of two people”. Over time, this term has evolved into a fixed description of a stand-up fight with fist, foot, knee and elbow as bodily weapons.

Muay and Muai

The difference between the term in Thai pronunciation and the description does not reveal any acoustic distinction as in the written translation. Today, a distinction is made between MUAI as martial art (sub-discipline of the Pahuyuth) and Muay as a combat sport (see Muay Thai).

Combat sport (Muay) is determined by competition rules, so the scope of fighting techniques for sporting purposes is limited. This is not the case in the Pahuyuth martial art (MUAI).


The additional term “Thai” originated from the distinction to international boxing (see Muay Sakon) and was introduced very late in time. The addition “Thai” refers to Thailand as its origin.

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