IMBA Muay Pram

Core elements

What is IMBA Muay Pram?

The Art of Siamese Grappling, is regarded by many experts as one of the secrets of the technical background of Thai Martial Arts. Therefore, most of the traditional grappling strategies and maneuvers are kept hidden by knowledgeable Masters, today as in the past.

A small part of the techniques of ancient Siamese Grappling (Muay Pram) are implemented in these times by skillful thai boxers whenever they fight in the ring. The best thai boxers are exceptional strikers as well as formidable stand up grapplers. Smartly combining a vast arsenal of holds with upper and lower limbs strikes and with powerful throws, this simplified version of ancient Siamese Grappling proved to be one of the strongest tools in the hands of skillful ring fighters.

In recent years there has been a growing worldwide interest in effective Grappling based disciplines stimulated by the diffusion of mixed fights, in which most of the times the grapplers emerged victorious. Moreover, since most street fights end up at grappling range, knowing how to grab and strike at the same time, how to lock a limb in order to dislocate a joint, how to throw and finish the opponent on the ground, are fundamental technical attributes that every serious student interested in real fighting truly needs.


For years, the author of this article has been working on a detailed technical program that brings together under common principles the best traditional and modern combat Grappling strategies, tactics and techniques handed down by the Thai Masters with whom he has cooperated in the past years. Extensive archaeological research exposed the ancient origins of these techniques, proving that they are part of archaic fighting systems dating back hundreds of years.
All of these techniques and combat methodologies gave life to an updated and scientific version of traditional Muay Pram, the ancient system of Siamese Combat Grappling.
After many decades of oblivion, now the time has come to bring Siamese combat grappling back to its ancient splendor: a complete fighting system that probably has its distant roots in ancestral Indian Martial Arts and that has been nourished by the ingenuity and the creativity of generations of Siamese warriors for centuries. This is the goal of all the members of the International Muay Boran Academy in the near future.
IMBA Muay Pram, Combat Muay Boran (the most combative interpretation of the original Thai martial art’s fighting skills) and IMBA Lert Rit (a Siamese military Close Combat style adapted to civilian use) represent the three technical pillars of Muay Boran IMBA, the modern and scientific version of original Muay Thai Boran, developed since 2005.

IMBA Muay Pram syllabus: basic techniques, advanced martial applications and specialized training

IMBA Muay Pram technical syllabus is designed to meet the needs of modern practitioners. The goal is to provide students with a technical progression that can gradually lead them to a good level of knowledge of the four sectors of the Art, namely seizing, vital points striking, locking and throwing.
With this goal in mind, IMBA Muay Pram teachers should base their teachings on three main technical pillars that should compose the daily training regimen of their students: basic techniques, advanced martial applications and specialized training drills.

Basic techniques (Kod Rad Fad Wiang)

Once introduced to the proper use of the nine body weapons and to the basic stepping patterns (see following pages), IMBA Muay Pram students must start to practice the fundamental grabbing, holding and off-balancing techniques called Kod Rad Fad Wiang. This fundamental part of the syllabus deals with the basic technical elements (Mae Mai in Thai language) that compose the bedrock of all the fighting strategies of this Art.

Learning these fundamental aspects of grappling is a pre-requisite to start discovering the advanced strategies of the art of Muay Pram (martial applications). Modern Muay Thai’s grappling strategies and techniques are borrowed from Kod Rad Fad Wiang: the ability to apply holds, unbalances, throws and strikes (mostly knee kicks) at close range, are the skills that every Nak Muay must possess to fight on the ring, nowadays.


Advanced martial applications (Tum Tap Chap Hak)

The next step in IMBA Muay Pram students’ learning process is represented by the study of the ancient martial applications of the basic principles. According to Thai traditions, once Mae Mai concepts have been digested, trainees start to explore more advanced technical aspects, namely the higher combat applications commonly defined as Look Mai.

In modern day teaching programs, once a basic knowledge of the fundamental fighting concepts has been transferred to trainees, martial applications start to be introduced.
Even if full learning of Mae Mai principles before starting to learn Look Mai strategies would be the best choice, nowadays most teachers opt for more diversified training routines, combining basics with advanced techniques in each class.

In Muay Pram, advanced combat principles are encoded in the so called Tum Tap Chap Hak traditional strategies. Joint breaking and throwing , combined with short range strikes aimed at vital points: these are the maneuvers that make up the core of this technical sector.


Specialized training

Since the very first class all students learn that a specifically conditioned body is required to perform Muay Pram techniques with the needed balance, speed and power.

Therefore, specialized training systems have been devised for standard workouts. Without the implementation of these training systems no student will have the practical ability to apply the techniques he has learned in real fighting situations.

Physical conditioning, impact training, sparring and combat Forms are the four pillars of IMBA Muay Pram’s training system.


Muay Pram Levels
  • Level 5 – Master
  • Level 4 – Senior Instructor
  • Level 3 – Instructor
  • Level 2 – Trainer
  • Level 1 – Assistant Trainer

Muay Pram’s technical features

No expert of reality based self-defense would ever deny the true effectiveness of grappling maneuvers in close range combat. What is the secret of such efficiency? Grappling as a stand-alone technique or better in conjunction with short range strikes and throws, proved to be a winning strategy for generations of fighters all over the world: this is due to several reasons.

• Grappling promotes control, it puts you in condition to measure your reaction to a menace. You can go from a pin to a killing technique, according to the severity of the threat.

• Grappling maneuvers can be practiced in a safe environment (like a gymnasium) and still provide the trainee with real fighting experience: in fact, grappling techniques can be practiced at full speed against full resistance without risking injuries for the trainees.


• Most grappling maneuvers are based on leverage: when a smaller fighter correctly applies the principle of leverage, the power of his techniques will be greatly amplified. The application of leverage is one of the best methods to overcome a stronger and bigger opponent in hand to hand fighting.

• Grappling can easily be adapted to armed combat and to self-defense against weapons.

• Most fights take place at short range: learning to cope with different kinds of attacks (grabs and strikes) at a close distance from the enemy is a crucial attribute for every fighter. Once again, grappling is the answer.


A most effective fighting strategy involves the combination of grapples and short range strikes. Keeping the enemy in place to hit the weakest spots of his body with greater accuracy has always been the winning strategy of hand to hand combat experts. Muay Pram’s fighting techniques are a very effective expression of this universal martial tradition.

Further analyzing the technical aspects of this Art, the following can be noticed:

– Not many fighters are good at clinch range; this stage of a fight is seen by many as a passive phase. In other cases, the clinch is considered to be an intermediate phase, preliminary to the actual execution of the core techniques of the style (i.e. a throw or the start of ground work). In Muay Pram, the clinch phase is designed to become the one and only range at which to fight. Therefore, a good Thai Grappling Master (Khru Muay Pram) must be able to teach his students to close the gap and “stay there”.

– Muay Pram is not pure Wrestling, but rather a hybrid grappling style. In fact, Wrestling holds are designed to control the opponent, unbalance and throw him. On the other hand, Muay Pram holds are meant to seize and control the opponent long enough to attack him with close range explosive blows or joint dislocation maneuvers. The basic Muay Pram’s arsenal consists of an extremely efficient combination of locks and destructive short range strikes.

– You can execute holds employing your fingers, wrists, crook of elbows, armpits or your whole arms. Holds can be applied to virtually any body part: fingers, wrists, forearms, elbows, upper arms, neck, head, trunk, upper and lower legs, knees, ankles, toes. In Muay Pram trainees specialize in a limited number of grabs and targets. Every hold is but a mean to execute a strike, a dislocation, a strangle or a throw. Muay Pram holds may be “open” or “closed”: open holds employ one or both arms independently, while in closed holds the hands (or arms) are interlocked.



– Short range attacks include the following: sharp elbows strikes, destructive knee blows (executed in combination with holds or without holding), head-butts and hand strikes (closed fist or open hand blows and forearm strikes).

– The ability to combine grappling holds with short range strikes in close range fighting is the combat strategy in which Muay Thai boxers are still unmatched; that’s exactly what Muay Pram specializes in. And that’s exactly the logic of Muay Pram’s approach to fighting, that is getting hold of the adversary in order to unleash powerful series of blows until the opponent is down and out.


– Muay Pram students must undergo a long training to become expert in this Art, endlessly practicing the various holds applied to the neck, body and limbs. As a result, a properly trained Muay Pram fighter (Nak Muay Pram) is capable of putting any kind of opponent in a difficult position as soon as he puts his hands on him. The best Chap Ko (the typical Muay Thai neck-holding technique) experts are able to suffocate an enemy just by squeezing the sides of the neck with their forearms or to damage the cervical vertebrae with a sharp twist, without even having to apply a single knee or elbow blow.

– In addition to using elbows, knees, fists and head to strike the opponent, while controlling him by a number of effective holds, a Muay Pram practitioner is trained to employ a vast repertoire of locks applied to the arms, legs, neck and trunk. These locks are specifically designed to put the adversary out of commission with a single snappy action.

– No doubt that combining Chap Ko holds with knees, elbows, punches and head-butts and with joints dislocations, is a very effective fighting strategy. However, if a combination of quick and devastating throws are added to that, you will really get an explosive cocktail. A Muay Pram fighter usually throws the opponent after striking him or otherwise after having controlled and grabbed an opponent’s striking limb. The throwing action must be quick and explosive: in case of failure, one must resort to striking as a primary line of offense.


IMBA Muay Pram book

By Grand Master Marco De Cesaris


The Art of Thai grappling

This book is a journey through the history, the mythology, the art and the science of the discipline of Thai Grappling. Starting from a detailed and rigorous analysis of the technical pillars of ancient Siamese Grappling, the author guides the reader through the principles of physics, anatomy and physiology to fully understand the original Siamese style of seizing and holding. A comparative analysis of the foundations of western and eastern (Ayurvedic) medicine is used to decode the secrets of an ancestral combat system that is still perfectly up-to-date and suitable for the needs of modern martial arts practitioners.
Thai Grappling’s technical components, how to seize and hold, joint locking maneuvers, throwing techniques and vital points striking are just a few of the many subjects covered in this volume.
Full colour, 560 photos and drawing.
Forward by Prof. Chaisawat Tienviboon.

Buy your copy


Grand Master Marco De Cesaris
He has been a Muay Thai practitioner since 1978 and has been certified as a teacher of Muay by the Ministry of Education of Thailand (in 1991). During his career he was an athlete, coach of professional thai boxers, judge / referee, promoter and founder of the first Italian Muay Thai Federation. In 2012 in Thailand he was awarded the 15th Khan of Muay Thai Boran (Bramarjarn or Grand Master of the Art) and Gold Mongkon by the Governor of Ayuddhaya Province. He is the founder and technical director of the International Muay Boran Academy (IMBA), the worldwide organization devoted to the development and spread of Muay Boran in the world, since 1993. IMBA is currently present in 26 countries, Europe, North America, Latin America and Australia. Master De Cesaris since 2005 has developed a modern scientific version of Muay Lert Rit (Military Close Combat) adapted to civilian use, which has become an integral part of the IMBA technical curriculum, along with Combat Muay Boran, the most combative interpretation of Thai Traditional martial art and Muay Pram, the deadly Siamese grappling.

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