With the rising international interest in the martial art of Muay Thai over the past several decades, many fighters and athletes have sought global fame and heavy purses through competitions of the sport. While Muay Thai takes years to learn to practice correctly, an even tougher version of the martial art can take decades. This style, called Lerdrit or Muay Lert Rit, has origins in the practices of the warriors of Siam (the former name of Thailand, where both Lerdrit and Muay Thai were developed).
The Origins of Names
In the Thai language, “Muay” means “boxing,” while “Lert” means “excellent” and “Rit” can mean “colossal power” or “formidable force.” Therefore, Muay Thai translates to Thai boxing. On the other hand, Muay Lert Rit translates to excellent boxing with formidable force. Each form of martial art is similar in that each involves using several parts of the body to strike an opponent, but Lerdrit is elevated to a higher level even through the language of naming.
The Development of Styles
Muay Thai is often known today as both a form of martial arts used in war but also as a sport for entertainment. From this, Lerdrit evolved into a form of boxing and fighting by the inclusion of techniques used by the Special Infantry Corps of Thailand as well as the Royal Thai Army Palace Guard and Capital Defense Corps. These techniques include traditional movements of crushing, breaking, throwing and grabbing opponents. When Lerdrit is practiced by civilians without military training, some of the techniques can be modified.
The Art of Eight Limbs Versus the Nine Natural Weapons
While the foundation of Muay Thai rests on the development of only eight contact points when fighting, Lerdrit includes a ninth point. The eight contact points for Muay Thai are as follows:
- Two hands
- Two feet
- Two knees
- Two elbows
The ninth point is the head, in Lerdrit; in Muay Thai, fighters are not allowed to headbutt opponents. Both forms of martial arts allow for the use of certain strikes or movements to either defend oneself or attack an opponent. Those who practice either style need to understand which body parts are allowable and how to use them.
The Distance Between Fighters
Lerdrit is considered to be a close contact sport, characterized by quick strikes. Aggressive Thai styles of grappling, also known as Muay Pram, are a key part of bringing down an opponent during Lerdrit. Those who practice this martial art must learn to hit, hold and finish an opponent rapidly. On the other hand, modern Muay Thai has incorporated boxing techniques from the Western styles of fighting, so sometimes the fighters do not fight as closely together. This can give Muay Thai fighters more options to perform full-body kicks and jabs, which are sometimes limited by the closeness at which Lerdrit fighters interact.
The Importance of Training
Both Lerdrit and Muay Thai rely on fighters being in top physical shape. Experienced trainers will often lead their trainees in exercises designed to condition the body into better shape for fighting. This often includes using punching bags for repeated kicking in order to stimulate extra bone density. Many fighters train daily to prepare for combat or competition, using variation in abdominal exercise, rope jumping, running and shadow boxing to stay limber while building muscle mass. Without dedicated training sessions, it can be easy for Muay Thai and Lerdrit fighters to be injured during competition.
The Risks of Combat
Most martial arts come with inherent risks, since their practice is rooted in violent fighting. Training and preparation can only take a fighter so far in the ring. Broken bones, soft tissue injuries, pulled muscles and head injuries are some of the most common risks. Though padding is worn by many lower level fighters, those who advance to high levels or the professional stage often wear minimal protection. This can lead to injuries which can end the career of a martial artist. Additionally, in Thailand, there has been opposition to the practice of allowing children to box or learn Muay Thai due to the increased risk of brain injuries or lowered IQ.
Explore the Opportunities
Whether you are an experienced fighter or new to the world of Thai boxing, learning more about the development of these two historical styles of boxing can help you on the path towards strength and agility. Practicing Muay Thai and Lerdrit can open new doors for you in the martial arts community.