By Kru Brooks Miller
It’s very difficult for promoters to offer “authentic” Muay Thai outside of Thailand, particularly in the United States. Most jurisdictions heavily regulate their combat sports, and there is a constant uphill battle with the local boxing and athletic commissions when it comes to the use of knees and elbows in the ring.
The state of Virginia, for example, has taken a rather progressive approach, in not only allowing full-rule Muay Thai matches to occur, but actually embracing the rules. They have set up training workshops with a leading local sanctioning organization for training on how to properly officiate these fights and keep them safe for the participants.
In order to ensure the states continued support, promoters and sanctioning bodies have found the need to adopt a few practices that aren’t quite “full Thai rules”. Notably, amateurs wearing safety gear in the ring. Headgear, shinguards, and elbow pads are the norm. Some targets which are considered “fair game” in authentic Muay Thai are not permitted, such as the spine and back of the head. Also, rules regarding holding and hitting tend to be modified as well.