At Chicago Muay Thai Kickboxing Club

Our common goals and purpose are to:

  • To work together to improve our skills and character on a daily basis.
  • Train as a team, improve ourselves, our training partners, and teammates.
  • Promote the strong character found in Muay Thai Kickboxing & Martial Arts

We have developed and continue to promote a friendly, welcoming, family type atmosphere that focuses on teaching each other regardless of your experience level. Our students are trained to work with those less experienced to raise the bar for everyone. All we expect is for you to provide the effort, respect and work ethic they have all shown in creating their martial arts journey.

Regardless of your experience, If you train for better physical conditioning, learning self-defense or even part of our Muay Thai competition team, Chicago Muay Thai Kickboxing Club offers a fun, safe, friendly, team building environment. Our instructors have over 100 years combined of Muay Thai and competitive martial arts experience. Some instructors have been teaching in excess of 20 years. All instructors have competitive fighting experience ranging from amateur fights to the UFC (Mixed Martial Arts). The Chicago Muay Thai Kickboxing Club Competition Team competes on a regular basis in both amateur and pro events .

Beginners, intermediate and advanced levels are always welcomed at the Chicago Muay Thai Kickboxing Club!

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.
Boxing Sparring
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.

All levels are welcomed and train in a friendly constructive atmosphere. No bullies allowed nor tolerated!

Our Instructors

JJ Liwanag


JJ Liwanag has been actively doing martial arts since he was 11 years old, with a background in both Shotokan & Tae Kwon Do. He has over 20 years of experience in Muay Thai and has fought in recent years in the Iowa Thai Boxing Association, Praetorian MMA Challenge, and internationally in Canada & Thailand. He brings a wealth of knowledge and technique behind his style, and combines it with a strong foundation, and sense of passion for the art of Muay Thai.

Mike Hoffman


Mike Hoffman is a diligent student and competitor of Mauy Thai and Martial Arts. Mike’s original introduction was in Kung Fu where he still trains and mixes his skills of Muay Thai. Mike is a competitive fighter who is always looking to help others improve as well.

Mike De La Vega


Muay Thai Specialist Has Trained and lived at some of the biggest gyms in the world. Extensive Amateur Muay Thai background. Purple belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. Professional MMA fighter. Bellator MMA veteran. 7 years of personal training experience

Jim Glasgow


Jim has over 22 years of experience, training and competing in martial arts. He has more than 18 years of experience in Muay Thai. Jim is a black belt in Shidokan Karate (began training 1994), which incorporates Japanese full contact karate, grappling, and Muay Thai Kickboxing. Jim began training in 1994 fought competitively for over 9 years (1997-2006) in bare knuckle full contact competition. and was the 2001 Shidokan lightweight Team champion. Jim has trained in Japan, Thailand (Rampo Gym, Tiger Muay Thai & KruDam Gym), as well as in Europe, and with Fairtex Muay Thai school in San Francisco. Jim is also a purple belt in Gracie Brazilian Jiu Jitsu with Team Redzovic. Jim has trained numerous Muay Thai and MMA fighters including UFC veteran Razak Al- Hassan.

Mazen Rimawi


Bio coming soon

Jeff Simonelli


Bio coming soon

John Welch


John Welch is well versed in the Muay Thai game both as a fighter and coach. He brings an infinite amount of technical knowledge, and has some of the best stories by far.

Steve Jennings


Bio coming soon

Phil Kaluza


Bio coming soon

Our Staff


Front Desk Manager


Front Desk Staff