What is Muay Thai?
Muay Thai is a form of hard martial art practiced in large parts of the world, including Thailand and other Southeast Asian countries. The art is similar to others in Southeast Asia such as: Pradal Serey in Cambodia, Lethwei in Myanmar, Tomoi in Malaysia, and Lao boxing in Laos. Muay Thai has a long history in Thailand and is the country’s national sport. Traditional Muay Thai practiced today varies significantly from the ancient art Muay Boran and uses kicks and punches in a ring with gloves similar to those used in Western boxing.
Muay Thai is referred to as “The Art of the Eight Limbs“, as the hands, shins, elbows, and knees are all used extensively in this art. A practitioner of Muay Thai (“nak muay“) thus has the ability to execute strikes using eight “points of contact,” as opposed to “two points” (fists) in Western boxing and “four points” (fists, feet) used in the primarily sport-oriented forms of martial arts.
Muay Thai techniques
In its original form, Muay Thai consisted of an arsenal of nine weapons – the head, fists, elbows, knees and feet – known collectively as na-wa arwud. However in modern Muay Thai, both amateur and professional, headbutting an opponent is no longer allowed.
To strike and bind the opponent for both offensive and defensive purposes, small amounts of stand-up grappling are used: the clinch. Formal Muay Thai techniques are divided into two groups: Mae Mai or major techniques and Luk Mai or minor techniques. Muay Thai is often a fighting art of attrition, where opponents exchange blows with one another. This is certainly the case with traditional stylists in Thailand, but is a less popular form of fighting in the contemporary world fighting circuit. With the success of Muay Thai in mixed martial arts fighting, it has become the de facto martial art of choice for competitive stand-up fighters. As a result, it has evolved and incorporated much more powerful hand striking techniques used in western style boxing and the Thai style of exchanging blow for blow is no longer favorable. Note: when Muay Thai fighters compete against fighters of other styles (and if the rules permit it), they almost invariably emphasize elbow (sok) and knee (kao) techniques to gain a distinct advantage in fighting. Almost all techniques in Muay Thai use the entire body movement, rotating the hip with each kick, punch, and block. The rotation of the hips in Muay Thai techniques, and intensive focus on “core muscles” (such as abdominal muscles and surrounding muscles) is very distinctive and is what sets Muay Thai apart from other styles of martial arts.
The punch techniques in Muay Thai were originally quite simple being crosses and a long (or lazy) circular strike made with a straight (but not locked) arm and landing with the heel of the palm. Cross-fertilization with Western boxing and western martial arts mean the full range of western boxing punches are now used: jab, straight right/cross, hook, uppercut, shovel and corkscrew punches and overhands as well as hammer fists and back fists.
As a tactic, body punching is used less in Muay Thai than most other striking martial arts to avoid exposing the attacker’s head to counter strikes from knees or elbows.To utilise the range of targetting points, in keeping with the Teory of Muay Thai – Centre Line, the advocate can use either Western or Thai stance which allows for either long range or short range attacks to be undertaken effectively without compromising guard.
A typical Thai boxer would train with his teammates early morning. It ranges from 6 to 8 miles everyday, and as a light jog.
Exercise and Fitness
The next steps are warming up with light stretches and exercises. It’s important to warm up to minimize the risk of injuries, as well as getting the fighter to feel good for the rest of practice.
Pad Work & Bag Work
Practice consists of focusing on different techniques and drills. The students will have 3-5 rounds on different bags, 3-5 one-on-one pad rounds with a trainer, or 3-5 rounds in groups with other students and trainers.
The goal of clinching in boxing is to tie up your opponent. You want to capture both of his arms under yours – much like giving him a big bear hug that effectively prevents him from lifting his arms and punching.
Don’t think you are going to be able to do this for long. In boxing it’s against the rules to hold or tie up your opponent and the referee will break you apart – but it can be just enough of a break if you are getting destroyed and need to stop the onslaught.
Sparring is an important part of Muay Thai training. Our trainers direct sparring sessions with the students. It is of course completely voluntary. The sparring allows students to practice and utilize their skills against a real opponent.
Usually sparring is done at 50-75% speed and power, and most students wear shin, mouth and head guard to prevent injury. Sparring is one of the most important training tool that will help students to understand Muay Thai as a fight sport and gain experience in the ring.