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Does Muay Thai Use Weapons?

muay thai weapons

Muay Thai is a sport with strict rules, where every single rule-breaker gets penalized for his actions. “The Science of Eight Limbs” allows striking with your legs, elbows, knees, and fists. Headbutts are prohibited.

does muay thai use weapons

But let’s forget about the sports version of Thai boxing. As well as you know, the ancient Siamese martial art was popular centuries ago. It primarily served for military purposes. So, does Muay Thai use weapons?

Well, there are no weapons in the Muay Thai competition. Gloves, groin guards, and mouthpiece are mandatory, ankle pads are optional. Yet, the traditional part of this martial art teaches you to fight with so many wonderful weapons. I bet even a die-hard samurai fan will be surprised after reading this article!

Sports Muay Thai

Nowadays, Muay Thai’s ruleset is strict – five rounds of war with a bit controversial scoring system. But there are few additional traditional elements – Wai Kru dance, headbands around the fighter’s head, and ropes on the arms.

The two ring warriors are armed with their elbows, knees, knuckles, and feet. Any kind of weapon is strictly prohibited. If somebody grabs a bo or any other item and hits the opponent, he’ll immediately lose the fight via disqualification. This rule breaker might even get banned from competitions for years, or life if the offense was too severe.

The clean fight in Muay Thai competition means out-striking and defeating your opponent via “8 Limbs of Thai boxing”, according to a specific ruleset.

But the question is – does Muay Thai use weapons? I mean common guys. It was a part of the military training. A bare-knuckle fighter doesn’t have many chances against an opponent with a sword or a pole.

I bet you’ll be impressed. The answer to the question “does Muay Thai use weapons” demands discussing the non-competitive Thai boxing styles, Krabi Krabong and Muay Boran.

Muay Boran

Are you interested in hearing the answer to the question “does Muay Thai use weapons”? Well, I think you’re down to hear more about Muay Boran. This isn’t a competitive fighting style, so it offers different striking techniques.

For example, regular Muay Thai bout doesn’t allow ground strikes, grappling, and deadly techniques. Technically, combat sports prohibit some life-threatening Muay Boran moves – cheap shots, nard blows, and striking to the back of the head.

I mean, Muay Boran fighters don’t fight with knives, swords, nunchaku, or clubs. But the answer to the question “does Muay Thai use weapons” is yes, at least for me.

I will list my reasons here, you have the right to agree or disagree:

  • Deadly techniques are allowed, which means you can even kill your opponent with some strikes.
  • Muay Boran is a martial art, not a sport. Protection and self-defense come first. There are rules too, but Muay Thai rules are way stricter.
  • You don’t wear gloves, only hemp. In some cases, loops of hemp are way dangerous than bare knuckles. You can cut your foe badly. For me, hemp is a very dangerous weapon.
  • Muay Boran allows headbutts. It means more ways to harm the opponent. Only a few sports allow head strikes – Lethwei, Vale Tudo. UFC prohibited these brutal strikes after UFC 6!
  • There are many styles of Muay Boran. Each of them includes combinations of weird and deadly strikes. Competitive Muay Thai offers different schools, but you’ll hardly see so major differences.
  • Let’s be honest, the shin to the head of the grounded opponent is probably stronger than a baseball bat to the head. That’s one of the reasons why I answer the question “does Muay Thai use weapons” with yes, in this case. Powerful Muay Thai low kick (slashing strike to the leg originates from Muay Boran) can break bamboo trees or damage blunt objects! Well, at least you don’t have to pay a woodcutter! The shin sounds like a most perfect human weapon, isn’t it?
  • There are many more elbows and knees in Muay Boran. For example, an elbow to the back of the head serves to stop a takedown attempt. There are many more types of flying knee. A knee strike to the head of the grounded opponent is allowed too (today, only some Brazilian MMA organizations, ONE FC (Singapore-based promotion), and Rizin (Japan-based promotion) are ok with those attacks).

Does Muay Thai Use Weapons – Krabi Krabong, Different Style Of Thai Boxing

I will get to know you with Krabi Krabong, an ancient style of the deadly Siamese martial arts. A few centuries ago, weapon self-defense courses were mandatory for soldiers.

The techniques were developed from a variety of different sports but you can notice similarities with the Chinese monkey style. If you analyze Krabi Krabong thoroughly, you’ll recognize elements from Indonesian Silat and Burmese Banshay too.

There were many ancient fighting styles in Thailand. Yet, these martial arts were kept out of the public eye. It is believed that sword fighting techniques were developed in the XVII century.

The traditional style of Krabi Krabong remained hidden from the public eyes for centuries. When King Rama II equipped his army with muskets in 1809, many believed it’d be the end of Krabi Krabong, but this lovely martial art became part of the contemporary tradition of Thailand. The popularity exploded in 1936 after this fighting style was added to the curriculum of the local Academy of Physical Education.

But does Muay Thai use weapons? Yes or no? Well, read this thoroughly and you’ll see why the answer is “yes”. Many people, especially in the western world, only know about Muay Thai fights in the ring. Well, Krabi Krabong offers something different.

And now I will precisely respond to the question “does Muay Thai use weapons”. Yeah, the Krabi Krabong version allows the use of 9 types of weapons.

The list of weapons in Krabi Krabong, Thailand’s ancient fighting art, includes:

  1. Krabi – it is a very sharp and thin sword that kinda reminds me of a tiny model of saber. Used for stabbing and very powerful in close combat. Similar to the Roman gladius.
  2. Krabong – it is a 1,8 meter long and straight weapon, made of ebony or teak. Very powerful in long-range combat. Yet, it’s weak side in an exchange inside the pocket.
  3. Na mai – small crossbow, very good for a silent attack off distance. It was a trademark of hunters in the ancient era.
  4. Kaen – This is a rectangular shield that covers the arm and protects it from sharp weapons – swords, spears, knives, machetes… Yet, you can use it for attacking with the sharpened edge too.
  5. Daeng – the longitudinal shield that serves to cover specific areas of your body. Neutralizes mace or bo attacks, and potentially saves you from sharp weapons. Made of metal or leather.
  6. Lob – this round shield is very big, and it might even cover your whole body. Made of wood, leather, or metal, it can neutralize arrows and spears too. You can use it for the attack if you sharpen the edge, but this is primarily a defensive, melee weapon.
  7. Daab – heavy sword with a very sharpened blade, made of wood or bone, way longer than Krabi. Good for cutting and stabbing, kinda similar to the ancient samurai sword for silent assassins.
  8. Ngao – you can call it a special weapon because it was mostly used by a royal family. Knife or trident-shaped weapon. Good for short and mid-range fighting, you won’t have a hard time disarming the opponent too.
  9. Mae Sowk – for me, this is the trademark of Krabi Krabong and the answer to the question “does Muay Thai use weapons”. Two clubs with handles on one side, and a rope on the other, made of teak or a bone. A defensive weapon that demands a lot of practice. The western world could call it “the choice of a skillful ninja”.

There are different fighting techniques, and you can learn a lot of new moves. Yet, there is one ultimate difference – Thai boxing is a sport, while Krabi Krabong is a martial art with way fewer restrictions.


Muay Thai is a relatively new sport. There were many ancient forms of Thai boxing before modern rules and regulations were established.

The answer to the question “does Muay Thai use weapons” is yes and no. Competitive fighting styles allow 8 human weapons and nothing else. Muay Boran went one step further, allowing headbutts. But Krabi Krabong helps you get to know the other side of Muay Thai. Today, it’s a part of the ancient Thai tradition, but a few centuries ago, it was a military martial art for a good reason.

Last Updated on May 21, 2022 by Deni

Picture of Deni


Hi, I started training Muay Thai back in 2016 and fell in love with it. So I decided to create this blog in the pursuit of this passion and share my experience with you.

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