Intro to Muay Thai

Muay Thai (Thai boxing) is the most popular combat sport in Thailand with its roots deeply embedded in the country’s heritage. Originating as far back as the 15th century, the martial art boasts a proud history which is connected to the military and royal throne.

Get closer to Thai culture and traditions

Watching professional fights at a stadium is an excellent way to experience Thai customs, superstitions and ceremonies in a traditional and vibrant setting. For centuries, Muay Thai fighters have sought good fortune and devised practices to keep the evil spirits at bay, and many of these rituals are carried out in the arena by the fighters. Initiations and rituals are often practised in the training camps too. Elite athletes in their prime Muay Thai’s popularity increased significantly on the international stage as a spectator sport in the second half of the 20th century. Thai fighters today are often recognised for their superior mental fortitude and elite physical fitness. Muay Thai bears some similarities to other sports in the field of mixed martial arts, with many fighters crossing between jiu-jitsu, kickboxing and even UFC (ultimate fighting).

Muay Thai for beginners. Perfect for fitness

    • Muay Thai is fantastic for all-round fitness, strengthening your aerobic (heart and lung capacity) and non-aerobic (muscular strength and endurance).
    • As most of the group classes for beginners in Thai gyms focus on fitness, they are great for weight-loss and conditioning but not so much for perfecting your technique. Therefore, if improving your technique or sparring in the ring is important to you, we suggest you search through the deals for private classes or training camps.
    • The training can be intense and a typical Muay Thai session includes 30-45 minutes of exercise that will put you through your paces before even putting on the gloves. So, if you are not a regular exerciser, or are a smoker, you may want to take it a little easier at the start so you don’t tire yourself out before the fun part.
    • For those who don’t usually participate in these types of exercises, delayed onset muscle soreness (as with any new sport) is inevitable.
    • If you have any health concerns, particularly people with heart or back issues, you should consult your doctor and inform your trainer beforehand.

Is Muay Thai dangerous?

Injuries from martial arts are often exaggerated. As with all sports, Muay Thai carries a certain amount of risk. But risks for beginners are minimal as classes focus on fitness and exercises in a controlled setting. You may succumb to one or two minor injuries, such as scrapes and bruises. Of course, the harder you push yourself, the easier it is to lose the correct technique and cause yourself more serious injury, but this shouldn’t be the case under the guidance of an experienced trainer. Group classes usually involve a lot of core body conditioning, shadow boxing, techniques on the bags, and combinations on the pads with the trainer. For those who don’t usually participate in these types of exercises, delayed onset muscle soreness (as with any new sport) is inevitable. Family friendly muay thai krudam

Family-friendly: Muay Thai for beginners and children

Muay Thai is great for people of all ages, from age five to 65, helping to improve discipline, mental focus, strength, agility, balance and coordination. A well-organised gym will offer specially designed workouts that are fun for people of all ages and skill levels. Several gyms promote classes that cater specifically to rugrats. Krudam Gym on Sukhumvit Soi 36 (near Thong Lor BTS), and RSM Academy, a chain located in a number of areas in Bangkok. 

Can anyone do Muay Thai? How fit do you need to be to do Muay Thai?

    • Muay Thai is fantastic for all-round fitness. strengthening your aerobic (heart and lung capacity) and non-aerobic (muscular strength and endurance).
    • In group classes, exercises adopt the form of drills, very similar to circuit training, usually with more instructors added for larger numbers.
    • The training can be intense and a typical Muay Thai session includes 30-45 minutes of exercise (5 minutes’ running, 5 minutes’ skipping, core strengthening exercises like push-ups and squats) that will put you through your paces before even putting on the gloves. So if you are not a regular exerciser, or are a smoker, you may want to take it a little easy at the start so you don’t tire yourself out before the fun part.
    • If you have any health concerns, particularly people with heart or back issues, you should consult your doctor and inform your trainer beforehand.
    • As most of the group classes for beginners in Thai gyms focus on fitness, they are great for weight-loss and conditioning but not so much for perfecting your technique. Therefore, if improving your technique or sparring in the ring is important to you, we suggest you search through the deals for private classes or training camps.

What’s the difference between western kickboxing and Muay Thai?

Kickboxing is a generic term that covers any sport that uses a combination of boxing and kicks in a combat setting. The western style began in the 1960s when karate fighters first donned a pair of boxing gloves, transforming the sport into what was known as full contact karate.

Popularised by Hollywood in the 1980s, kickboxing evolved over the next few decades to become more similar to modern-day Muay Thai. However, a few differences remain which are outlined below.

Key differences in style

Muay Thai is derived from traditional Thai martial arts and remains an important aspect of Thai heritage. The unique traditions and ceremonies performed at the boxing arena make it clearly stand out from western tournaments.

Thai fighters are renowned for their excellent clinch control and lightning-fast kicks. Its style is also easily identifiable for its strike techniques, like hammerfists, backfists and palm strikes. Not many kickboxing organisations will allow these moves in the ring.

Technical differences between kickboxing and Muay Thai

Today, the most popular form of western-style kickboxing is K-1, which refers to the tournament name. In K-1, six points are awarded for landing strikes with punches, kicks and knees, while Muay Thai utilises the 8-point system (left and right: punches, kicks, knees and elbows) – hence it is popularly known as the art of eight limbs.

Lower-leg strikes

While American Kickboxing prohibits strikes to the legs, K-1 fighters are allowed to kick both high and low parts of body. The lower-leg technique used by K-1, and Dutch kickboxers in particular, involves striking from the side with the outside of the shin, in a downward chopping motion.

Body movements

Western K-1 kickboxers tend to bob, weave and parry counter strikes, like boxers. They are also better trained at using their hands in comparison to their Thai cousins as they don’t need to worry about clinching or painful attacks from the elbows or knees.

Thai style: turning defence into attack

However, Muay Thai fighters have to be extra vigilant with so many combinations of strikes available to their opponent, defending against elbows, knees and strikes below the waist. This means fighters are more patient, waiting for the right opening, often strategically counter attacking. They are less nimble in their footwork, tend to stand tall, and typically face off with square shoulders and square hips.

The front push kick (the teep)

Rarely executed in western kickboxing, Thai fighters are the masters of the teep. It’s used both to ward off the opponent and as a powerful attacking move.

The most obvious visual differentiators for kickboxing

    • K-1 kickboxing only allows a short clinch (where you can strike with a knee or sweep kick) before the referee breaks the fighters apart.
    • Longer punch combinations (up to 6)
    • More head movement to lean for uppercuts and slip punches, etc.
    • Boxing-style, evasive footwork – dancing around the ring