Muay Thai, a.k.a. Thai Boxing, is a very effective striking art that originated in Thailand. This form of kickboxing employs the use of the hands, feet, elbows and knees to attack the opponent.
This style of fighting made a huge impact on the mixed martial arts world when fighters such as Pedro Rizzo, Bas Rutten, Mirko “Cro Cop” Filipovic and Maurice Smith stepped into the ring and completely dominated some of the toughest men in the sport.
They did this by avoiding the takedown, staying on their feet and using their Thai Boxing skills to defeat their opponents.
With the world seeing its effectiveness in a MMA fight, the dynamic kickboxing style from Thailand quickly became one of the essential skills learned by all mixed martial artists.
Let’s take a look at just a few things that Muay Thai training will do for your MMA game…
- Gives you powerful weapons to use in long range fighting – A kick can inflict more damage than any other strike that you can throw. By using the Thai front kick, you essentially have the stiffest jab imaginable. Use it to keep your opponent at bay or do damage by aiming it at the solar plexus or head. A Thai style round kick is probably the most powerful kick in all of martial arts. Land just a few of these kicks to the legs or body and the opponent will be hard-pressed to continue the fight. Connect with a round kick to the head and you are almost guaranteed a knockout.
- Learn to use elbows and knees for close range and clinch fighting – These are two of the best weapons for you to use when you are close to the opponent. Muay Thai training shows you how to use them in the most powerful and efficient way. When you consider that in almost every MMA fight there will be some time spent in the clinch, you see how important it is to know how to strike from there.
- Teaches you how to attack the legs – Using round kicks to take out your opponent’s legs in a MMA fight is a very effective strategy to employ. This is true for a very simple reason. If you can’t walk and/or stand properly while in a fight, you’ll have an extremely hard time fighting effectively. A Thai style round kick can achieve this effect on the legs with just a couple of shots.
- Learn additional ways to control your opponent in the clinch – Control from this position is not just trained in wrestling. The Thai Boxing clinch gives great control of the opponent’s body by controlling their head and neck. From this position you learn how to pull the head to keep the opponent off balance. You can also use this pull to bring them into a hard knee to the body or head.
- Teaches you how to defend against a wide array of strikes – Because of Muay Thai’s vast arsenal of attacks, that come from so many different weapons, learning to defend against them gives you a very well-rounded defense. Learn to defend each one individually, then master what you have learned by applying your defense while sparring.
Now let’s take a look at some of the training methods used when training Muay Thai…
- Using the heavy bag – The Thai boxer uses the heavy bag to develop powerful strikes just as a boxer does. The difference being that the Thai fighter strikes the bag with not just punches. He also uses kicks, knees and elbows. The weight of the bag gives the fighter a form of resistance to his strikes. By striking against this resistance the fighter develops his power. You should also note that the heavy bags used in Thai boxing come in many shapes and sizes. One of which is long enough to touch the floor, which gives the ability to train leg kicks.
- Hitting the Thai pads – This offers resistance to develop power, just like the heavy bag. The key difference between the two is that the Thai pads add in the interactivity of a partner. This gives you a chance to apply full power strikes to a live target, which gets you closer to how it is in a real fight. Another great thing about this training method is that if a good trainer is holding the pads for you, he will be able to feed you the correct combinations that you would use when you fight.
- Sparring – This is as close as you get to fighting without actually fighting. It is also the most important part of the training. This is where you learn to apply everything that you have trained. It involves you and your partner fighting as you would in an actual match except the power is kept to between 50 and 80 percent. You and your partner will do this with protective gear on.
- Conditioning – Muay Thai makes use of many methods of conditioning. Running, jumping rope, shadow boxing, hitting the thai pads and/or the heavy bag, calisthenics, medicine ball exercises and sometimes weight lifting are used to get the body into peak condition.
With dedicated training in Muay Thai, you can learn how to vastly improve your MMA game and improve your chances of being the man with his hand raised at the end of your next fight.