Imagine if boxing, kickboxing, and Muay Thai had an older, more rugged sibling who played by fewer rules and demanded more grit, endurance, and skill. That rugged sibling is called Lethwei, and it hails from the golden land of Myanmar.

Lethwei, or Burmese bare-knuckle boxing as some like to call it, is different from your average martial art. It’s been called the “Art of Nine Limbs.” 

If you’re wondering about the math, this electrifying sport involves using fists, feet, elbows, knees, and – brace yourself – even the head. That’s right. Headbutts are not just allowed but a central part of this sport, which makes it distinct from other combat sports.

Lethwei in its home country (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

Now, don’t let the intensity scare you off.

Lethwei is not just about brute strength. It’s a martial art steeped in centuries of tradition and requires as much discipline, strategy, and technique as any other. It’s about endurance, resilience, and respect for the opponent.

This piece explores its rich history, fascinating techniques, and the unwavering spirit that drives these incredible athletes.

The Origins of Lethwei and Burmese Bare-Knuckle Boxing

We’re stepping into our time machine and heading back to the ancient lands of Myanmar to uncover the origins of the thrilling, intense, and captivating sport, Lethwei. 

Its origins are shrouded in mystery, just like an Indiana Jones movie scene. No exact dates or records, but its roots extend back thousands of years.