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Also known as Silat Tomoi
Focus Striking
Hardness Full contact
Country of origin Malaysia Malaysia
Parenthood Silat Embo
Olympic sport No

Tomoi is an unarmed offensive martial art from Malaysia practiced mainly in the northern states of Kedah, Trengganu, and especially Kelantan due to the Siamese influence over the area.

Reference :"The Siamese in Kedah under nation-state making" By Keiko Kuroda (Kagoshima University):

Reference: "Thailand: the short History by David K. Wyatt

Practitioners are called petomoi or anak muay, the latter meaning "child of boxing".

The word tomoi is originated from the Thai ต่อยมวย "Toimoi" or dhoi muay; "Toi"( ต่อย) meaning Punch and "Moi or Mauy"(มวย) meaning binding into rounded form in Thai. In Malaysia, however, tomoi has always referred the form of kickboxing sport of Siamese Kedah and those of the northern states while the general term for pugilism is tinju. Tomoi is an unarmed offensive martial art from Malaysia practiced mainly in the northern states of Kedah, Trengganu, and especially Kelantan. It is closely related to other Indochinese boxing styles such as muay Thai in Thailand, Kun Khmer in Cambodia, muay Lao in Laos and lethwei in Myanmar. Practitioners are called petomoi.

The word tomoi is a cognate of the Thai dhoi muay. This was originally used for pugilism in general, and usually referred to what is now called muay boran or "ancient boxing". In modern Thai it denotes western boxing. In Malaysia however, tomoi has always referred to the indigenous Southeast Asian tradition of kickboxing while the general term for pugilism is tinju.


Today majority of population of Kedah is Malay Muslims. And most of them speak Kedah dialect of Malay language. However, some are speaking Thai language as vernacular. The lists of Thai Buddhism temples and the registered monks of Kedah and Perlis in 1890, 1892 [ National Archives of Kedah 1992 ] are in the collection of the letters of Sultan Abdul Hamid of Kedah. And There are Siamese villages and temples in Kalentan included Siamese/Thai temple named Wat Uttamaram ~ Tok Raja Temple In "Kelantan" Malaysia.

Reference: Buddism and Ethnicity :The case of the Siamese of Kelantan by Mohamed Yusoff Ismail
Reference :"The Siamese in Kedah under nation-state making"By Keiko Kuroda  (Kagoshima University): 

The art of "Tomoi" or "ToiMauy"(ต่อยมวย) were teach and practice among these Siamese communities in Kedah and Kelantan ,because it's part of the Siamese/Thai culture just like theravada Buddism.

The solid evidences are clearly shown the settlement of the Siamese villages in these Northern cities of Kedah, Kelantan and etc. through their Theravada Buddhism temples and Siamese language through the "Thai word" (ต่อยมวย) ToiMoi, ToiMuay or Tomoi .

It is also a clear fact that the system of Tomoi ,be the guard,stance,and striking techniques, is identical to muaythai.

It might be unclear for some country where their art of kick boxing came from, but in the case of MuayThai or Toimoi , the solid evidences shown us that the system of muaythai came from the the combination and development of many Siamese regional fight styles, be the Muay Jerng of the North, Muay Korat of the NorthEast, Muay Chaiya of the South and etc. Due to the fact that each of these regional styles had their own pros and cons in their unique guards,stances,footworks, striking techniques and the art of hand wraped called Kard Chuerk ( คาดเชือก). The combination of pros and cons of these various regional Siamese boxing arts have been developed and tested for centuries until it became the system of ToiMoi (ต่อยมวย)or MuayThai.

Reference: "Du Royaume De Siam " by Simon De La Loubere

In Toi Muay or Tomoi ;Originally, boxers wrapped their fists in hemp rope instead of wearing gloves. These art of hand wrap and MuayThai guard do not exist in any bas relieves or record of the ancient empire of Southeast Asia.

It is unclear exactly where the various Indo-Chinese forms of kickboxing originated but they are known to share a common ancestry having been based on Chinese techniques with some influence from the Indian martial arts.[1] One theory is that they were spread by the ancient Funan empire, based in modern-day Cambodia, which once encompassed what are now Thailand, Kedah, Perlis, Kelantan and Pahang. Originally, boxers wrapped their fists in hemp rope instead of wearing gloves. There was no ring, so the fights would take place in any open area while surrounded by spectators. If the crowd was satisfied when the match was over, the victor would be rewarded with food and money which helped supplement the income of poor families. British colonists later introduced the modern rules, boxing ring and gloves. The older techniques and weapons are still taught today as another style called silat embo.

During the 1970s and 80s, tomoi was so popular that tournaments and exhibition matches were held at Kuala Lumpur's National Stadium. Authorities later stopped encouraging the sport due to the fights that would break out among spectators. In its native Kelantan, tomoi particularly flourished during the 1960s and 70s before the Islamization movement beginning in the 80s. Matches between popular fighters would draw crowds as far as southern Thailand. After coming into power, the Kelantan government banned several Malay cultural traditions for their "un-Islamic elements", including mak yong (dance-theatre) and wayang kulit (shadow puppetry). Tomoi was also outlawed in 1990 mainly on account of the animist war-dance ritual which precedes the fight, but also because of the violence and the fact that men and women mix freely in the audience. A few tomoi practitioners at the time competed in the boxing, kickboxing and muay Thai circuit outside of Kelantan but tomoi's popularity reached its lowest point. Because Kelantan is close to the border with Thailand, many Malaysians during this period began referring to the art by its Thai name of muay Thai (or moi Thai in the northern dialect). In 2006 the ban was abolished and tomoi was again allowed to be practiced under the name of moi Kelate which means "Kelantan boxing" in the local dialect. The name used by promoters is "freestyle kickboxing" but most Malay-speakers in the north still call tomoi.[2]


Tomoi incorporates kicks (tendang), punches (tumbuk), knees (lutut) and elbow strikes (tujah). Punches consist of the straight jab, cross, hook, uppercut and backfist. Kicks include the foot-thrust, front kick, roundhouse kick, backward roundhouse, lower roundhouse, and axe kick. The foot-thrust is typically not meant to damage the opponent but to push them back. Tomoi practitioners consider punches to be the weakest form of attack, and regard elbow and knee strikes the best way of inflicting damage, so much so that it is sometimes referred to as the art of siku lutut which literally translates as "elbow-knee". Elbow strikes include the horizontal elbow, vertical elbow, elbow thrust, spinning elbow, back elbow, and double elbow. Knee strikes are mostly delivered while clinching the opponent. Each of the eight striking points (fists, feet, elbows and knees) can also be used during a midair attack.

Although tomoi is primarily unarmed, its ancient counterpart also incorporated weapons such as the knife, sword, and the mae sawk, a bamboo truncheon with a perpendicular handle. The same unarmed techniques are applied to the weapons, although they are rarely taught today. Traditional training methods like kicking trees and splashing water near the face without blinking are confined to rural areas. More commonly used conditioning methods include running, skipping rope, shadowboxing, and resistance exercises.


Standard attire consists of shorts, boxing gloves, armbands and cotton coverlets on the feet. The armbands were traditionally inscribed with prayers for victory but this is not always done today. Matches are made up of five rounds, each lasting three minutes and broken with a two minute rest period. Biting, blows aimed at the groin, holding the ropes, attacking a fallen opponent, and hitting an opponent from behind is illegal. During the match, traditional music is played with the gendang (drums), serunai (oboe) and other instruments. The music slows down and speeds up according to the pace of the fight. Victory is usually obtained on points but 20% of matches end in a knockout. This occurs when a fighter has fallen and cannot continue after the referee counts to ten.

See also[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Draeger, Donn F. (1981). Comprehensive Asian Fighting Arts. Kodansha International
  2. ^ Kamaruzaman Yaacob (Aug 9, 2006). "Kickboxing making comeback". The Star.