Today’s muay thai (English: thai boxing) is a ring combat sport. It is a stand-up style (a fighter lying on the boards does not participate in a fight). The fighting formula is exclusively full-contact, where the blows are inflicted with full force. There are also schools teaching traditional muay boran techniques (“old (ancient) boxing”). In Poland, Thai boxing has been practised since the early 1990s.

What distinguishes Thai boxing from other popular styles is the extensive use of elbow and knee strikes (in amateur formula elbows, knees and body are protected, in professional fights they are unprotected). This kind of strikes often result in quick knockouts.

Thai boxing also places particular emphasis on the use of low roundhouse kicks. The basis of the style is a low kick on the thigh (called lowkick in English). It has many variants – among others, as a descending kick from the top down. It is performed with strong tightening of the body, and even with rotation of the fighter after not hitting the target. The kicking surface in it is the shin, less often the foot.

Thai boxing attaches great importance to the clinch, or fighting in close quarters. It is an easily recognisable element of Thai boxing. The fighting position is mainly frontal and the hands are held wider than in a boxing stance, which makes it more difficult to get caught in a clinch. Intercepting kicks, takedowns and uppercuts are allowed, but throws as used in judo are forbidden. The weakness of Thai boxing is the lack of ground fighting, chokes and levers.


K-1 is an organization founded in 1993 in Japan which promotes fights based on modified Japanese kick-boxing principles enriched with techniques from other styles. It is often regarded as the most prestigious professional kick-boxing organisation in the world. One of the main assumptions behind its creation was to enable representatives of various martial arts and sports to compete against each other. Today, the K-1 rings are mainly populated by kick-boxing, Thai boxing, karate and boxing competitors.

Principles of combat

Technical matters

Contestants compete in a 6 × 6 m square ring. Obligatory protective equipment consists of boxing gloves, crotch protector and mouth guard.
The fight lasts 3 rounds of 3 minutes each (if the referees are unable to decide on a winner, they can order 1 or 2 extra rounds) or less frequently 5 rounds of 3 minutes each (in this case if the referees are unable to decide on a winner, a draw is declared). The possible outcomes are: knockout (KO), technical knockout (TKO), win by referees’ decision, draw or declaration of the fight as not taking place. Three knockdowns in one round means a knockout.

Allowed techniques

The fight is “stand” only (no ground fighting). All boxing blows (plus backfist) and kicks (including knee) are permitted. The striking area is the head, body and legs of the opponent.
Clinching is permitted as long as the aim is to strike (mainly with the knee). Otherwise the ring referee must break the clinch. It is permitted to intercept the leg of the kicking opponent, as well as to hold his head with one hand in order to deliver a blow. However, once this has been done, only one blow may be delivered, after which the leg or head must be released.


The following, among others, are forbidden

  • blows to the head
  • blows to the elbow
  • blows to the groin
  • blows to the back of the head
  • most throws and all types of levers
  • strangulation and punches to the throat
  • biting
  • hitting an opponent on the ground
  • hitting an opponent with his back turned
  • holding onto the ropes
  • persistent clinching in order to avoid a fight

In the event of an offence, the ring judge may draw attention, give a warning, or deduct a point from the fouling competitor. A warning will be given twice and a point deducted twice (yellow card). A deduction of three points in one round equals disqualification (red card). If the referee considers that a foul has been committed intentionally or has caused bodily harm to a competitor, the deduction of points need not be preceded by a warning.

Referees and scoring

The refereeing panel consists of the ring judge and three scoring judges. In order to determine the winner, at least two of the scoring referees must indicate the winner (e.g. if only one of them has done so and the other two have awarded a draw, an extra round or a draw is declared, depending on the type of fight). The fight is judged on the following criteria in a predetermined order:

  • number of knockdowns
  • degree of damage inflicted on the opponent
  • number of accurate punches
  • aggression (offensive activity)

For each round of the fight both competitors receive 10 points, from this pool are deducted:

  • 1 point if in the referee’s opinion the competitor lost the round
  • 2 points for a knockdown (exceptionally 1 point if the knockdown is considered to be momentary, so-called flash knockdown)
  • 3 points for two knockdowns
  • 1 or 2 points for fouls

Submission (Grappling), grappling – a type of hand-to-hand combat which uses grappling techniques, i.e. levers, throws (overthrows), chokes; strikes are forbidden in it.

The word “grappling” The word “grappling” (also “grapling”) is a neologism from English (grapple). The term “grappling styles” often used in Poland is inconsistent with Polish grammar. These styles are commonly referred to as “grappling”, however, this term, although vocabulary-wise correct, has an ironic and humorous character. A person who fights using grappling is referred to as a grappler or grappler.

A modern form of grappling, open to representatives of any style of this type, is submission fighting. The opposite of grappling is striking. Individual grip fighting styles differ significantly in the way they fight and the techniques they use. The most effective are combinations of styles which complement each other in individual combat zones (e.g. judo in standing and Brazilian jiu-jitsu on the ground).

Styles based on grappling include:

  • Brazilian jiu-jitsu (BJJ)
  • jiu-jitsu
  • judo
  • luta livre
  • sambo
  • wrestling

Grapple-based styles are used in most inter-style confrontations (MMA and vale tudo), where they are an effective means against punch-based styles (such as boxing, kick-boxing and karate).

MMA (Mixed Martial Arts) evolved from Vale tudo, but now have a rather loose connection to the original. Vale tudo (Portuguese, literally “anything goes” or “anything can be done”) is the name of hand-to-hand combat duels with very limited rules that have been organised in Brazil for over seventy years.

The original Vale tudo is a formula for organising competitions with very limited rules, where everyone can use such fighting techniques as they deem effective – usually only attacks to the eyes, biting and sometimes kicking in the crotch are forbidden. In traditional Vale Tudo there is no division into weight categories, no division into rounds and the fights last without time limit. Very often the fight was fought with bare fists.

A fight may be settled by:

  • KO (knock-out ) knockout – i.e. temporary or prolonged loss of consciousness by the contestant.
  • TKO (technical knock-out) – e.g. injury, broken nose or bones, cuts, trauma etc.
  • submission by choke, lever or at any time during the fight.
  • referee’s decision, e.g. when the advantage of one of the competitors turned out to be too big.
  • the throwing of the towel by a second person (also a form of submission).

Wrestling – a combat sport consisting of a physical struggle between two competitors – the fight is hand-to-hand through the use of grappling. The origins of this sport date back to ancient times, when wrestling was one of the attractions of the Olympic Games held in Greece. These were the first wrestling competitions of a sporting nature.

Wrestling as a form of bloodless competition has been known since before the Hellenistic culture. In Japan the equivalent of wrestling is sumo competition. A wrestling competition consists of two competitors of equal weight category, one wearing a red leotard and the other a blue one, competing on a mat (usually round).

Wrestling is divided into classical style – only grabs above the waist are allowed free style – you can grab your opponent also by the legs. (before World War II called in Poland respectively French and American wrestling[1]). In wrestling all techniques causing potential danger for the opponent’s health are forbidden, e.g. levers known from judo or strangles. In wrestling strength, speed, cleverness and instinct of the competitor play an important role.


Fist fighting is one of the oldest sports, already known in ancient Greece and Rome[1]. It was on the programme of the ancient Olympic Games. Static brawls between two competitors were very brutal and sometimes ended in death. These fights, fought with a minimum of rules, had little in common with boxing, a sport that was born in England in 1719. It was then that James Figg, reputed to be England’s first ever champion, established a boxing ‘academy’ on Tottenham Court Road in London. Fighters wore no gloves and took blows until one of them was knocked out or fell from strength[2]. Jack Broughton, who succeeded Figg in 1730, retained the championship title for 18 years and was the first to codify the basics of the sport’s rules. Shocked by the death in the ring of one of his opponents, George Stevenson, he formulated and implemented a set of rules known as Broughton’s Rules, which were replaced by the London Prize Ring Rules in the first half of the 19th century. The foundations of modern professional boxing can be traced back to the rules published in 1867 in Britain known as the Queensberry Rules, which first introduced the requirement to wear gloves. At first, they co-existed with the London Rules, but by the end of the 19th century they had practically superseded them and gloved fights had become the standard (e.g. since 1889 they have been obligatory in the USA). The symbol of these changes became John L. Sullivan, who is considered to be the last bare fist champion and at the same time the first world heavyweight champion in glove fighting.
In 1916, an important decision was made to limit official professional world championship fights to 15 rounds of three minutes each, with one-minute breaks. In the 1980s, following the tragic death of the Korean boxer Kim Duk-koo, professional fights were limited to 12 rounds.

Principles of fighting

Boxing blows are the basic element of technique in a boxing fight, boxing blows are correct if they are delivered with the front, stuffed part of a closed glove (often marked in white) to the front and side parts of the head (up to the line of ears) and above the waist in front and from the side up to the line of arms lowered loosely along the torso, a distinction is made between: sickle blows, straight punches, punches from below. Depending on which hand delivers the blows, a distinction is made between left and right blows; depending on the target at which the blow is aimed, a distinction is made between up blows (to the head) and down blows (to the torso); depending on their range, a distinction is made between short and long blows.

Straight punches – boxing punches most often used in fights, characterised by great speed and effectiveness; they are used in attacking at a distance and in the middle distance, as well as in defence; there are four basic straight punches: left straight up (to the head), left straight down (to the body), right straight up (to the head) and right straight down (to the body). In English boxing terminology, a punch delivered with the hand on whose side the forward leg is placed is referred to as a jab, and with the opposite hand as a cross.

Sickle blows – lateral blows which reach the opponent from the side, hitting the side parts of the head and the torso, most often used at half distance, sickle blows are characterised by a strong twisting work of the torso with the transfer of the body weight in the direction of the blow with the participation of leg, hip and shoulder work. The basic sickle punches are left hook, right hook, left extended hook and right extended hook. Referred to as hook in English terminology.

Low blows (chin, hooks) – boxing blows are delivered with the hand bent at the elbow, used at half distance and in close quarters, in attack and defence, basic low blows are right low and left low. In English terminology referred to as an uppercut.

The name taekwondo is composed of Korean language words: tae meaning foot, kwon meaning fist, and do meaning way or philosophy of life. The name taekwondo was adopted on April 11, 1955, with the agreement of most Korean martial arts masters, to combine many diverse styles (such as kongsudo, taekkyon, kwonbop, subak, tangsudo) under the name taesoodo. Master Choi Hong Hi is considered to be the main creator of this martial art. He is also the author of the name taekwondo, which has been in use since 1957.

The basis of taekwondo is a system of philosophical and moral assumptions, basic techniques (mainly footwork), and strictly defined formal systems (in the WTF organisation there are 17 systems called poomsae). Sport competition includes mainly fighting and formal systems.

In WTF competition rules it is only allowed to hit the face with feet (fists can only hit the body – that is why in WTF mainly footwork techniques are used and no gloves are used). In WTF competitions full contact is used.

WTF taekwondo was introduced to the Seoul Olympics (1988) as a show sport due to its clear rules and high level of spectacle. Today, since the Olympic Games in Sydney (2000), Taekwondo WTF is a full-fledged Olympic sport.


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