Muay Thai is popular enough that most people in the martial arts is aware of it. You will often hear it called the "art of eight limbs". Muay Thai, or Thai Boxing, is a favorite sport in Thailand, being that country's official sport. It is popular throughout the world. Whether you are interested in mixed martial arts, kickboxing, or self-defense, it is an accommodating art form. While the majority of people are familiar with Muay Thai, they are not as familiar with the parent art to it: Muay Boran. Sadly, there's the danger that Muay Boran will become a lost martial art if it continues to lose recognition.
Do you know what Muay Boran is? The name roughly means "Ancient Boxing" and that is what it really is, an older version of the martial art style which eventually became the ring sport of Thai Boxing. Lots of people write off Muay Boran under the misconception that it is just a bare knuckle Muay Thai. Muay Boran didn't call for wearing boxing gloves, but there are a lot more significant differences than that in how the martial arts are performed. The Muay Boran nickname was not the "art of eight limbs", it was the art of "nine weapons". The ninth weapon which isn't even allowed in organized Muay Thai tournaments, was the headbutt.
You might also be under the misconception that Muay Boran is similar to the striking form used in contemporary Thai Boxing. There is some partial truth to the similarity, but mainly in the standup style they share. Nevertheless, Muay Boran integrated many other native styles which were common to the Indochinese region. Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) - Making Your Conditioning Count There are a number of similarities in the training style to that of MMA training. Because the goals of MMA were more military in origin, the art was considerably more brutal and also dealt with offensive and defensive techniques which are more freestyle rooted and designed to deal with crazy situations. Nevertheless in today's standards, you can actually call it an art for personal protection or one with battlefield purposes.
That doesn't mean Muay Boran wasn't used in fight contests. Muay Thai is really the form of martial art that has developed as a result of adaptations made to Muay Boran for competitive events. You can trace diminishing Muay Boran practice to a couple of things. While boxing gloves are now used in Muay Thai competitions, traditional Muay Boran competitions used hemp-wrapped forearms. The second major change was the dramatic reduction of illegal techniques as the art became more of an honorable ring sport. Of course there exists a benefit to all of this. The beautiful competitive martial art style of Muay Thai was formed as a replacement. What is unfortunate, however, is the fact Muay Boran virtually became a forgotten martial art.
Luckily, in recent years, the few instructors who do know the art have come forward to help sustain its teaching. You can either study under a Muay Boran master or get instructional Muay Boran DVDs.