Why is Muay Thai Called the “Art of 8 Limbs”?

The national sport and cultural martial art of Thailand, Muay Thai is an exhilarating, fast-paced combat sport that combines punches, elbow strikes, kicks, and knee strikes. In Thailand, it is known as the art of eight limbs, due to the eight parts of the body (weapons) that can be used to strike an opponent. As a leading Sydney martial arts training academy, Integrated Combat Centre teaches a Muay Thai style of kickboxing. Unlike normal kickboxing, you can use fists, feet, elbows, and knees to fight – much more fun and a lot better for fitness! Read on to learn more about the 8 limbs and how they are used in this exciting, popular combat sport.

Two Fists

Mimicking the weapons and combat of centuries gone by, the fist takes the place of the sword and daggers. Used to throw different punches, the fists are effective weapons in mid-range combat.

Similar in execution to the punches thrown in Western boxing, however, in Muay Thai punches are just one part of a fighter’s arsenal, while in boxing they are the only weapons at a boxer’s disposal. In competition, punches do not score as highly as kicks or elbows strike but they’re still excellent weapons to have, especially for aggressive fighters.

Two Elbows

Emulating the crushing mace, the elbows are often considered the most distinctive weapons of Muay Thai which help to separate it from other striking-based martial arts such as traditional Kickboxing, and Karate. There are various ways to use the elbows including the upward, horizontal, slashing, downward, and spinning elbow strikes. Elbow strikes are especially useful in the clinch and in close-range combat. They can be devastating and can inflict a lot of damage to your opponent.

Two Knees

The knee techniques of Muay Thai is what sets this ancient art further apart from all other striking-based martial arts. Similar to an elbow strike, a well-placed knee strike will most certainly mean the end for your opponent. There are several variations of knee strikes including the straight knee, the curved knee, the diagonal knee, and the flying knee strike; all of which have the potential to inflict paralysing muscle damage, or even knock an opponent unconscious. Flashy and entertaining to watch, and one of the most lethal aspect of Muay Thai, knees have the capacity to immobilize an opponent and even lead to a crushing knockout victory.

Two Legs (Shins and Feet)

The feet and knees take the place of the ancient axe and staff. While elbows and knees make Muay Thai distinct from other martial arts, it’s the explosive kicks which are the most effective technique in any fighter’s arsenal. Solid kicks that land flush always score highly in the eyes of the judges. The Muay Thai roundhouse is the most common kick in the sport, it can be devastating, as it used the full force of the body to drive the leg through the opponent. The power of the kick is generated by the twisting hip and transferred through the leg and the shin. Another common kick is the teep, which is a thrusting motion that uses the ball of the foot to strike. Used both as a defensive and an offensive weapon, the teep is often compared to the jab in Western boxing and has more potential to cause damage and disruption against your opponent.

Muay Thai fighters use a range of techniques from 8 contact points, including punches, kicks, elbow strikes and knee strikes; That’s why it’s referred to as the art of 8 limbs. Evolving and developing over the years to become a globally appreciated sport, Muay Thai offers something fresh and unique for athletes looking for something different or those who are looking for a fun way to get fit.

Are you interested in learning kickboxing, karate, or Brazilian jiu jitsu? Sydney’s ICC is one of the leading martial arts academies offering classes in multiple styles for everyone form absolute beginners to professional athletes. Book a free trial and discover which martial art is best for you – Karate, Kickboxing, MMA, or BJJ. Marrickville locals can get in touch with us online or by calling our friendly staff today.

Give our BJJ program a go and experience the improvements to all of these fields. It is considered to be an excellent first style where the skills are easily transferable.


What our members say

See what our valued members say, directly from Google reviews.
See more reviews

2 Weeks UNLIMITED Trial! - $19.95