Do you happen to be a fan of Muay Thai? Have you seen any of the major television flicks like Ong Bank or the sitcom, Daredevil and observed the leads with ropes on their hands? Well, these shows and movies, like many other, depict exactly how the hero steps out on the battlefield, with his hands wrapped around ropes.
Sounds too much to understand in one go?
To make it simple, let us start by understanding what Muay Thai is all about. Quite literally, Thai boxing is a type of combat sport that originated in Thailand. The sport makes use of various stand up striking and clinching techniques.
So basically, the hand ropes you might have seen these heroes wearing on their hands are a type of protection. These ropes serve the dual purpose of increasing damage when punching the opponent and also protecting the hands and wrists of the wearer.
Another art form, Muay Boran, which can be called the predecessor of Muay Thai, was famous for making use of these hand ropes. Let us get to know about Muay Thai hand ropes in detail.
Muay Thai Hand Ropes
Can you believe it that there was actually a time when certain rules and regulations relating to these games did not even exist? That’s right. Nothing about boxing rings or boxing gloves existed back then. At this time, the use of Muay Thai, or rather, hemp hand ropes became popular.
Depending on the region where the game was being played, there existed a different style of wrapping the rope around the hand.
Originally, such hand ropes were made with hemp ropes or threaded pieced of hemp. The reason for favouring hemp was plain. The material turns out to be more abrasive, which is why it was considered better from the perspective of cutting the opponent. At the same time, it also provided better protection to the boxer, which could possibly block strikes from the opponent.
After binding the hands, they were dipped in water which would easily harden and tighten the rope around the hand.
Purpose of Muay Thai Hand Ropes
You can draw a parallel between the modern day boxing games and the games that existed in the old days. Today, players make use of hand wraps or tape them under their gloves to ensure maximum protection and support to their wrist. Same as that, the Muay Thai hand ropes were used for this exact purpose.
For a boxer, it is vital to provide and support and protection to the hand and wrist. This becomes even more relevant for players who engage in boxing games on a regular basis and need to maintain their hands in a healthy state.
There is only a slight difference here. In addition to support and protection, Muay Thai hand ropes were also used for the purpose of inflicting damage to the opponent. For this reason, the hand ropes used to be tied in a specific way using a combination of wraps and knots, such that the opponent could be damaged.
Anciently, the act of wrapping the hands of the boxer with ropes was called Muay kard chuek. Muay is a Thai word that is used to denote boxing. Kard chuek on the other hand is the name used to denote the conventional hemp rope which was used for wrapping the hand of the boxer.
Different Styles of Kard Cheuk
As already stated, we can easily trace back the origin of the Muay Thai to the ancient boxing reign. The ancient boxing game utilised the Muay Thai ropes in a number of ways. This impacted the purpose of the hand ropes.
Let us discuss a few of them:
Muay TahSao from North Thailand: Known for fast kicking and agile movements. Hand ropes were tied such that they could block kicks too.
Muay Korat from North-East Thailand: Strong kicks and powerful punches. Hand ropes were tied such that they could also cover the forearm and block kicks.
Muay Chaiya from Southern Thailand: Known for low level kicks. Wrists were well wrapped with hand ropes to ensure that player was protected from elbow attacks as well.
Muay Lopburi from Central Thailand: Quick and aggressive punching. Due to the extensive use of hand work, the hand ropes were securely tied to protect the hands.
How do Muay Thai hand ropes compare in modern day boxing rings?
Some of the boxing games still make use of hand ropes instead of boxing gloves. You will find a number of Thai boxing games hosting events where the boxers where hand ropes.
Many Thai boxers today still make use of the traditionally made hand ropes, during their performance at any festival or holiday time. The only change that has happened in these cases is the use of a softer material as compared to the hemp rope from earlier.
Muay Boran Hand Ropes
The ancient form of martial arts originated in Thailand. It existed before the time of Muay Thai and made use of numerous deadly techniques, including grappling and grounding. Today, most of these techniques are not in use today.
Conventionally, the players would tie their hands with ropes and immerse them in water to give some serious damage to the opponent. Eventually, Muay Boran was modernised and rules were evolved with its regard. With the codification of rules, Muay Thai was born and today, some form of it is still practiced around the world.
How to Wrap Your Hands for Kard Chuek
Usually, you will see a fighter make many knots. These are subsequently wrapped and tied around the knuckles of the player. Rope plays a significant role in protecting the player and his hands. There is a typical way in which the rope is usually woven between the fingers and the hand of the player.
Here is a complete detailed process for tying the best Kard Cheuk in your hands.
You will need at least 30 meters of ¼’ rope made with nylon or hemp and a sharp knife to cut the rope when you are done.
At the first step, you will need to tie four knots at one end of the rope at a rough distance of your knuckles. These knots will basically sit on top of your knuckles so make sure that you are leaving enough space in between the get a good grasp at the rope.
Once this is done, you can begin wrapping the rope around your hand. This will let you lock the first segment of the rope and then wrap the remaining bit of it freely.
At the next step, you will need to wrap the rope between your fingers and around the palm. Usually, you should start at your pinky finger and then continue to wrap the rope around the remaining section of your palms. Continue to wrap the rope between your ring and middle finger. End the process by wrapping the rope around your middle to first finger. Once this is done, take the remaining rope towards the inner side of your wrist and continue to wrap it around the top section of your arms.
Continue to wrap the rope around your wrist, and go all the way up to your palm and reach the notch where your forefinger and thumb are supposed to meet. After this, wrap the rope around the entire palm for up to 5 times, or more, depending on your preference.
It is a good idea to follow a small tip at the time of doing this. When you are wrapping your fingers and the palm, make sure that you also make a fist and reopen your hands often. This will help to maintain the tension between your fingers and palms. This will ensure that the circulation of blood around your hands is not interrupted but you are also able to get a firm grip on your hands.
At the next step, wrap your forearm with the rope. You don’t need to struggle your arm to get this done. Your skin will not feel tensed during this process. To do so, you need to bring the rope around your wrist and then simply start coiling it around your arms. Try to keep your arms in a flexed position while you continue to wrap. This helps with circulation when your hands are tied with the rope.
When you reach the end of the rope, securely tuck the end in a cuff. The number of wraps or coils do not matter. The setting should feel comfortable to your hands.
The possibility of potential injuries is why kard cheuk is not in use today. The typical thing about it is that not only the opponent but also the player himself can get himself injured during this process. For a few festivals, the tradition is still kept alive and during these events, you might be able to spot boxers fighting with Muay Thai Hand ropes. Each such game is guarded by certain rules.