What is Muay Thai?
Muay Thai or Thai Boxing is a 1,000 year old “martial art”, “combat sport” or “fighting art” that has its origins in Thailand (or Siam as it was back then) and is sometimes called “the art of 8 limbs” because fighters use 8 “weapons” against their opponents: two fists, two elbows, two knees and two feet (and shins).
Muay Thai is the national sport of Thailand and an important part of Thai culture. Boys from poorer backgrounds can make a living by becoming fighters (much like football used to in the UK). In the past 20 to 30 years it has become more and more popular in the West.
When I started out in May Thai 20 years ago, it had a certain mystique around it and a reputation for brutality. Today, however, it is far safer stronger regulation has been introduced, protective equipment is compulsory.
Why Should I Learn Muay Thai?
Because it derives its power from technique rather than brute strength it is suitable for all builds, sexes and ages. You will tend to develop a more “athletic” rather than overly bulky physique.
it has a practical, no-frills approach. Because it is “live” sport (by which I mean, it is still practiced today), it is constantly being refined and undated. There are no unnecessary flourishes and its focus is on fitness, efficiency and effectiveness. Because of this it is incredibly easy to learn and you can become proficient in as little as 6 months. Unlike some other martial arts that takes years to master.
Most people start Thai Boxing simply for fitness, very few practitioners actually fight (I have only ever done “interclubs” – amateur competitions between different clubs in the Phraya Pichai camp).
What’s The Difference Between Muay Thai, Thai Boxing and Kickboxing?
Muay Thai and Thai Boxing are exactly the same thing under different names, and just to make things more confusing, in Thailand Muay Thai is often called Kick Boxing.
However, what is usually referred to as Kick Boxing (as we know it today) developed out of Karate in the 1970’s in America and was extremely popular back then (it seems to have dropped out of fashion in recent years). I started out doing Kick Boxing in 1988. Kick Boxing is a very different beast to Muay Thai and doesn’t allow elbows strikes or knee strikes and ‘clinching’ which are core parts of Muay Thai.
To add to the confusion some modern forms of kick boxing such as K1 (a Japanese style of kickboxing that started in the 1950’s) have borrowed techniques from Tradition Thai Boxing and and even wear Thai style shorts.
Why Do You Say “Traditional” Thai Boxing?
Sadly, especially since Muay Thai has a bit of a mystique about it, there are a lot of organisations claiming to teach Thai Boxing, but are in reality teaching a hybrid form that can be very different from the style that s actually taught in Thailand. Here we make sure we are as close as possible to Thai Boxing as it is practiced in Thailand
Also, “traditional” means we pay particular attention to the history, customs and rituals of Thai Boxing as much as the fighting art.
Is Muay Thai Better Than [name of other marital art here]?
“Which is the best martial art?” is the question that has been asked for as long as there have been martial arts. Could Bruce Lee beat Mohammed Ali, etc, etc. It that very questions was what led to the founding of the UFC and the growth of MMA.
This answer is much more complicated than the question.. Each martial art is very different and has it’s own benefits and restrictions and often comes down to the interests, tastes and ability of the individual practitioner and the skill of the instructor or trainer to teach.
All I can say is why I prefer Muay Thai:
- It’s easy to learn. It really is! Because there are no fancy flourishes, you can become proficient in a very short space of time.
- You create real power (and reduce the risk of injury)by striking pads and bags rather than thin air.
- It’s a living sport so always evolving (Muay Thai today is a very different beast to what it was when I started), so you are not learning something that stopped developing 5000 years ago.
- It has a strong heritage and traditions.
- You do not need to be overly fit or flexible when you start out (unliek some other martial arts).
- You can go as far as you want with it, with no pressure to go any further. You can just attend technical classes to keep fit and build confidence or you can wok towards being world champion. It’s up to you!
A word of warning – ALL Martial Arts have fakes and wannabes. Its is very important to make sure you find a teacher with appropriate skills and experience. Do your research.
Is Muay Thai Effective For Self Defence?
The most effective form of self defence is situational awareness, preparation, confidence and good communication skills, oh and being able to run, very, very fast (for a long time!).
However, if you find yourself in a confrontational situation you can’t get out of and need to resort to violence to facilitate escape, then absolutely.
Unlike many other martial arts, which place emphasis on complex movements and are practised in a fairly choreographed way (which you will never remember in a stressful confrontational situation), Muay Thai focuses on the most straightforward ways to inflict damage on your opponents: By hitting them. Hard. Very Hard. Indeed.
Practicing Muay Thai will also give you the self-discipline and physical confidence to avoid those kinds of situations, which is surely the best way to remain out of harm’s way.
There is an old saying, “learn to fight so you don’t have to”, and practicing Muay This
We also spend some time in each class focusing specifically on self protection techniques and how to apply Muay Thai techniques to self defence situations.
How Will I Learn Muay Thai?
There are 2 different classes: Technical and Fighters Classes. When you are just starting out, you will attend the technical class, once you have been training awhile and have become reasonably proficient (about 6 months), you can, if you wish attend the fighters class (although you can just continue with the technical class).
For more details about each class please click here.
Do I Have To Fight? I Just Want To Get Fit!
Not at all. I have only ever fought in “inter club competitions” (informal amateur fights orgianseind within the Phraya Pichai camp),
Although Muay Thai is a “fighting art”, the vast majority of people who train never set foot in a ringing and do it just to get fit and build confidence in a fun way (and I promise that Muay Thai classes will get you fit!), rather slogging away at the gym.
You will only do sparring if you attend a fighters class, so if you don’t want to get hit stick to the technical classes. The only time you will get hit there is if your partner accidentally misses the pad!
I Want to Fight As Soon As Possible
Easy tiger! Your enthusiasm is appreciated, but I would never put you into the ring until I was sure you can handle it. Once you can demonstrate a certain level of ability (and the correct attitude), you can enter one of the regular Interclubs. Interclubs are run between Phraya Pichai clubs and are good “taster” for proper fights. The atmosphere is relaxed and supportive and you wear full padding.
How long it would take for you to get to that level demands on your previous experience, fitness level and commitment.
Once you have demonstrated you can compete at that level, I would discuss with Bob Spour, our Chief Instructor about entering you into a professional fight
Can I Train In Thailand?
Yes you can, we have contacts with a number of gyms and can arrange an introduction for you.
If your question isn’t answered here, please contact me.