Traditional Muay Thai has a long history in Thailand as a martial art used by the military. The military style of Muay Thai is called Lerdrit, while today's "Sport Muay Thai" slightly varies from the original art and uses kicks and punches in a ring and with gloves similar to those used in western boxing. Muay Thai is referred to as "The Science of Eight Limbs", as the hands, shins, elbows, and knees are all used extensively in this art. A master practitioner of Muay Thai thus has the ability to execute strikes using eight "points of contact," as opposed to "two points" (fists) in boxing and "four points" (fists, feet) used in the primarily sport-oriented forms of martial arts.
Starting in the 1990s, Muay Thai has enjoyed a boost in popularity worldwide as it has been very effective in mixed martial arts fights, such as those held by the PRIDE Fighting Championships and Ultimate Fighting Championship. Mixed martial artists such as Marco Ruas (of Ruas Vale Tudo) and Wanderlei Silva (of the Chute Boxe Academy) have combined many striking elements of Muay Thai with grappling, submission, and choking elements from Judo, Wrestling, or Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu into a hybrid synthesis that has been highly effective in defeating practitioners of "pure" martial arts. Shoot-fighters and professional wrestlers who have trained and influenced by Muay Thai include Satoru Sayama (the original Tiger Mask and founder of shooto) and Yoshiaki Fujiwara. Muay Thai is a versatile, brutal, straightforward martial art.