The national sport of Thailand, Muay Thai boxing has deep origins in the battlefields of the Thai army. In the early days, Muay Thai had no formal rules, regulations, uniforms, or weight classes, meaning the practice was a “free-for-all”. However, early in the 20th century, a set of rules was developed in order to make Muay Thai a safer and more sustainable martial art. Those new rules incorporated boxing gloves, weight classes, and more. Since then, Muay Thai has been exported to nations around the globe and is practiced by hundreds of thousands of individuals.
It’s all in the Cardio
Muay Thai is known as the “king of the ring” in many boxing and martial arts circles. Much of the moves and philosophies are centered around the idea of tiring out your opponent. After this, the individual delivers devasting blows, elbow hits, punches, and kicks. A major part of Muay Thai is, therefore, cardiovascular endurance since each fighter must constantly be on the move. Muay Thai has also been embraced by practitioners outside of sport or practice rings. Law enforcement, militaries, and self-defense courses have also incorporated either parts or all of Muay Thai into their teachings. A governing body known as the World Thai Boxing Association (WTBA) was founded in 1968. The founder, Ajarn Chai, traveled to the U.S. with a mission to spread Muay Thai. Ajarn is also the first known instructor to teach Americans the art of Muay Thai and has worked relentlessly to continue the practice in the western world.
Muay Thai Basics
Muay Thai does carry several benefits to one’s health and overall conditioning. However, the benefits are not just physical ones. Muay Thai teachers often boast of the mental benefits which result in more self-confidence, builds discipline, and helps students learn to manage complex stress in time-sensitive situations. Muay Thai also helps students build explosive cardio strength, learn to effectively plant kicks and punches as well as find inner peace through dedication and training. A large part of the journey in Muay Thai is, therefore, finding the right teacher and community. In smaller towns and cities, your options may be limited, yet you may be surprised how many Muay Thai gyms are around. When looking for a gym you’ll want to follow some basic tips.
Finding a Gym
First, make sure your teacher has ample experience in the ring. You can only really learn from those who have, “already been there and done that”. You should also spend some time talking with other students. This will give you an idea of the skill of the teacher and whether they themselves are good at Muay Thai. You want a coach that is dedicated to the practice and cares for his or her students. Also, be wary of large gyms that seem to churn out students as fast as possible. Only time and practice will make you a good student.
Equipment for Muay Thai
Next, consider what kind of equipment Muay Thai practitioners use. Most gyms will have the gear you need or be able to give you access to some. Luckily, Muay Thai requires only minimal gear. You may want to think about acquiring, Muay Thai gloves, hand wraps, a mouth guard, and groin protection. All of these pieces will provide critical protection for sensitive areas of the body that will still allow you to build strength and endurance. Once you begin to understand the basics of Muay Thai, the teacher or coach will want to transition you into sparing. This is a practice of safely fighting with an opponent in order to build your skill and practice. Since sparing is much more intense and could result in injury, there is special gear to protect you. You’ll want headgear to protect your skull and face as well as elbow pads should you fall down and shin guards to protect from brutal kicks. You can also bring your practice to home with heavy punching bags, skipping rope for cardio, and pads to practice punching.