The ancient Siamese martial art was primarily developed for military purposes, but it slowly turned into one of the fastest-growing martial arts in the world. Every fighting style has good and bad sides, but Thai boxing is an ultimate mixture.
Thai fighter is good in the clinch, long-range fighting, mid-range toe-to-toe exchanges, and tripping the opponent. It leads to a pretty much well-rounded, lovely-to-watch stand-up fighting style. Muay Thai is the best striking martial art for many reasons. Keep reading to discover why.
1. Striking Surfaces And Variety Of Attacks
Muay Thai is “Science of Eight Limbs”, which means you can hurt your opponent with your elbows, fists, knees, and shins. It leads to many outstanding potential attacks, so your foe will have a hard time reading your mind and predicting the incoming blow.
Let me give you an example. When a boxer has to fire back, his most dangerous weapon is his fist. Clinch up or shoot in for a takedown and he’s disabled.
But if you try to take a Muay Thai fighter to the ground, he might counter you with a brutal straight knee and put you to sleep.
Also, trying to clinch up with the Thai boxer is one of the worst things you can potentially do. Muay Thai specialists are usually sweeping experts. You can establish a body lock or one underhook-in, but you might get taken to the ground anyway.
Even good wrestlers and Sambo fighters might have a hard time dealing with Thai takedown defense, which undoubtedly makes Muay Thai the best striking martial art in the world.
Keeping your head tilted next to Muay Thai fighter’s head? Very bad idea! Sharp elbows can cut you open and the bout might be ended in the split of a second due to the excessive amount of blood. Spear, horizontal, and slashing elbows are the most dangerous close-range weapons.
All right, maybe you plan to switch to toe-to-toe brawling, but unfortunately, Muay Thai remains the best striking martial art in this aspect of fighting, too. Try connecting with hooks, Thai warrior clinches up. You might end the attack with a low kick, but Thai shins are made of iron, if your strike gets checked, you’ll hurt yourself badly.
Do you think you’re stronger than a Thai dude? Well, wrong! Thai boxers are trained to handle an impressive amount of pain before landing a strike. You might hit your foe 3 or 4 times to the head before he decides to fire back with a counter. Eat a shot to land a shot is a philosophy of Muay Thai.
That brings up the next potential way to defeat the opponent – spamming a single strike. This doesn’t work against less efficient fighting styles. The best striking martial art in the world offers so many ways to deal with it.
You can apply Muay Thai even on the ground. If you watch UFC regularly, then I suggest you take a look at Marlon Vera. He unloaded a barrage of elbows in his second bout versus Davey Grant in rounds 2 and 3 from side control and half guard, which gave him the major advantage on the scorecards. He got back into the game after terrible round 1 and won via unanimous decision thanks to Muay Thai.
Oh, please, don’t forget Jon Jones, please. His spinning back elbow is the trademark of UFC Muay Thai. We’ve seen him many times catching foe’s leg and punishing with a violent hard-to-escape tricky counter.
There are more entertaining Muay Thai warriors in other MMA promotions. My favorites outside of UFC are Gaston Bolanos (Bellator) and Aaron Mackenzie (LFA). These two guys are elbow specialists.
Listen, I could write about this all day long. But the point is – no matter where you at, Thai boxing can brutally hurt your opponent.
2. It Is Simple To Learn
Professional Muay Thai is hard, I am not going to lie to you. You’ll have to learn a variety of counters, combinations, and strikes if you want to advance on the division ladder.
But what happens with beginners? Well, I will have to be positive this time – Muay Thai is very easy to learn. The best striking martial art in the world can be so simple. Now let’s discuss the details.
For example, boxing is technically very hard to learn. An irregular hook leads to poor power and a slower strike, which turns you into a sitting duck. But did you know that Muay Thai offers many types of hooks and overhands?
In Muay Thai, you can always learn a type and a subtype of a strike. Let me guess the question. What the heck does that mean? Here is an example – you cannot land slashing low kick due to poor flexibility, but regular inside low kick works for you. Great, you learned a Thai boxing strike!
The lovely Siamese martial art offers so many various ways to hit the opponent, even the non-talented person has to learn something. Plus you don’t have to dominate technically in all aspects of the game, because there are many easy-to-learn areas – Muay Thai plum, right straight, body kick, knees to the body, catching legs, horizontal elbows…
When you come to boxing or a kickboxing class for the first time, the coach will constantly insist on the jab, straight punch, or 1-2 combination for the first week or two. Nobody will let you work on the heavy bag, while the Thai coach has a lot more options.
I believe that Muay Thai is the best striking martial art because you don’t have to learn strikes that don’t work for you.
For example, I have a non-flexible friend who can’t land a right high kick, no matter how hard he trains. But as soon as you clinch up with him, his knees demolish your chin and teeth. When I asked him how he got through it, his response was – well, I am aware of my abilities, I changed leg strikes for clinch knees and focused on that aspect of the game.
3. Good For Self-Defense
Other martial arts are pretty limited. Judoka will teach you a lesson if and only if he grabs your sleeve. Boxer will have to stay away from grabs and punish you with punches until you get knocked out or forfeit the fight. But Muay Thai fighter is dangerous everywhere. Here comes the analysis.
You grabbed the Muay Thai fighter’s hand. Fatal error, his elbows, other fist, knees, and feet are free. Even when you grab his jacket, a Thai warrior can switch to Muay Thai plum, single-collar clinch, or even one underhook in and brutalize you with knees and elbows.
You are trying to go for a takedown and trap the legs. Well, this can be a problem, but not for long. Muay Thai fighters are learned to push their hips or stomach backward when somebody tries to attack mid-section. In some cases, this will work. If not, Thai warriors can still punish you with a brutal counter knee or evade your takedown attempt with a lovely sidestep or 90-degree step.
An attacker decides to slap or punch a Thai warrior first. Well, here comes the boom! Muay Thai is the best striking martial art because it teaches you to eat a punishment. Even if a 200-pound guy slaps a 120-pound “dwarf”, a smaller guy will eat or block the strike and try to win the fight by any means necessary.
If a bully grabs a Thai fighter from behind, this could be tricky, and you can call it a 50-50 situation. Yet, elbows are usually free, which lets a lot of options for the master of the ancient Siamese martial art.
Pushing or shoving is another super-big mistake an attacker can make. The close-range is a perfect spot for action. Elbows or fists are probably well-trained, so the aggressive bully will need at least a second or two before he finds out what hit him.
And finally, brawling and toe-to-toe exchange. Some bullies are more skillful and they want to get straight to the point instantly.
But if the Muay Thai fighter survives the first wave, it becomes a tactical battle. Outworking the master of the Siamese martial art, especially an experienced one, can turn into a real nightmare!
There are many other situations where Muay Thai could piece the attacker up, but we’ll work on it some other time. I have to describe four more reasons.
4. You Can Burn A Lot Of Calories
Now you’ll probably say fine, many other activities burn an excessive amount of calories and fat. I am fine with that, but before you skip this part of the article, please note that Muay Thai is usually trained in the hot climax, which boosts the energy-burning process.
When you take part in a Muay Thai class, you usually have to land all kinds of strikes, which activate every single muscle in your body. When every area works, from heel to toe, you’ll burn way more calories than when, for example, you go for a light jogging session.
Muay Thai is a fun way to lose calories too. You can take part in a light-intense training session, but if your coach says it’s time to push the pace, it might end up burning more than 1000 calories per hour. High-paced training will put your body on fire for sure.
And finally, there is the ability to combine various aspects of a training session. Why would you hit a heavy bag for an hour when it’s boring? Think about combining core drills, mitt workout, free-standing heavy bag, conditional sparring, clinch work… It is way better this way, don’t you think so?
5. Endless Technical And Tactical Options
Well, this is my favorite reason. I hope you watched the UFC bout between Ciryl Gane and Alexander Volkov. Gane comes from Muay Thai, but he is a technical fighter. Heavyweight Octagon warriors are known for super-powerful bombs, but the all-time greatest French mixed martial artist is something different.
He comes from Muay Thai and thinks a lot during the fight. Despite both of the guys were poked on social media for taking part in a “Karate sparring”, Gane amazingly ducked under the majority of Volkov’s strikes and showed the perfect power of defensive Muay Thai.
Unfortunately, many people believe that Muay Thai warriors only march forward and fight toe-to-toe. That’s true for beginners and intermediate fighters, but when it comes to experts, everything changes. They tend to counter and outsmart more, and their anticipation skills are way better.
I suggest you take a look at the fight between two very experienced fighters.
Saenchai is my pick number one for a tactical game plan. As a southpaw fighter, Saenchai is forced to wait for the opponent’s misses and take part in tactical warfare.
When I saw Saenchai for the first time, I was thrilled with his unorthodox fighting style. The majority of low-level ring warriors tend to attack with the same combinations, but this guy brought something new. He is a master of 20+ strikes and it is impossible to predict his next shot.
Furthermore, when Saenchai wants to counter, he usually feints and moves to the side, which is very rare. His step-drag backward and step-drag forward are very explosive, which means you’re in deep trouble if you miss the attack.
Finally, the last thing that impresses me is his ability to think throughout the whole match. Some fighters lose focus in round 3, but Saenchai is a constant thinker who controls every aspect of the game for 25 minutes. Always one step ahead of his opponent, so impressive. Now let’s describe another interesting strategic and tactical aspect of Muay Thai.
You can think up how to fight ahead of the bout. For example, if you know that you’re dealing with a top-notch long-range fighter, you might eat a strike or two, establish clinch control, and then piece him up with devastating knees and elbows.
Yeah, you can do this in many martial arts, but look this way. There are so many ways to finish or outsmart your foe in Muay Thai combat. That’s impressive, isn’t it?
6. It Is More Than Just A Sport Or Martial Art
Muay Thai is not just a sport or martial art, it’s a way of life. Every Thai warrior is required to follow some rules of behavior. I have never seen an elite ring warrior drinking or smoking pot, they are focused on their goals. Tradition plays a vital role in their lives.
Thai boxing is the best striking martial art because it becomes one with you as time goes by. The majority of fighters do another job cause Thai boxing is not paid well, but I am confident many of them think about the ring or other aspects of the sport while they are at work.
Just take a look at the fighter’s entrance – the Wai Kru ceremony is one of the best things you can see in the world of martial arts. Huge level of respect towards tradition, plus mongkols and armbands. Ring warriors greet everything and everybody before stepping inside the ring to showcase their skills.
Thai boxing is an art, too. Please read my great thread about the most suitable gifts and presents you can give to a real fan of the best striking martial art.
Analyze all these aspects of Muay Thai thoroughly and you’ll see why this is way more than a sport where two fighters smash each other’s noses and try to leave the ring without injuries. Have you ever seen a trash talk before or after a Thai boxing bout? No, because respect means everything to them.
Believe me, the best striking martial art can change your way to view the world. One of the guys from my dojo was drinking and smoking heavily, but after one month of Muay Thai, he forgot about his bad habits and started reading Muay Thai books. Positive change!
7. It Turns You Into One Tough Person – No Surrender, No Retreat
Muay Thai fighters are very tough meatheads for a good reason – training sessions teach your spirit, mind, and body to fight until the last dying breath. Surrender will never be an option, even when the fighter is unable to continue.
Eating shot after shot is hard, it affects your mentality and leads to numerous bruises, scars, and cuts. But you’ll end the career with the respect of your fans and opponents. Yet, let’s see what turns you into one of the toughest humans on the planet Earth.
The first and the most important thing is – shin conditioning. Muay Thai fighters invest a lot into shin toughness, which keeps them from fractures during heavy bouts. I’ve seen shin-to-shin collision many times in combat but warriors didn’t show any signs of pain or distraction.
The second thing is – discipline. Over the years, I’ve visited many dojos and I can say that students are very disciplined. They never argue with the coach even when he makes a mistake.
I was watching one training session where the coach was holding a wrong pad for a southpaw fighter (1-2-1 combination, he was always starting with a left mitt instead of a right mitt), but the Muay Thai warrior was keeping his mouth shut and executing orders. The coach later asked him why he didn’t react, and the fighter just shrugged his shoulders. That is called – respect!
Third thing is – pain tolerance. I know this might sound a bit brutal, but a professional fighter usually learns how to eat shots before he steps inside the ring. There are training sessions where the coach hits you and teaches you to minimize the amount of damage. Fighters are trained to tolerate pain from a young age.
Fourth thing is – the amazing amount of love towards the sport. I know this sounds a bit crazy, but Muay Thai could easily be the best striking martial art in the world because there is no western influence in many areas of the world.
For example, people train and fight in Thailand for very little money, sometimes it’s not enough to feed their families. But family members are tolerant and they support their cousins/sons/daughters on their Muay Thai voyage and never let them down.
And finally, thing number five – dreams will always come true. I am dazed by this mentality. You know, in some cultures, after a few fails or losses, fighters retreat and start looking for some other job. But when it comes to Muay Thai, the situation is way different.
I’ve seen many people in their 40s working jobs and pursuing their Muay Thai dream. Some of them sacrificed family life to make significant achievements in the world of Thai boxing. The power of the Thai cult knows no limits, it motivates you to push forward even in the darkest hours of your life.
You’ve probably seen now that Muay Thai is way more than just a way to destroy your opponent or a fighting discipline where one of the fighters leaves the ring with his hand raised. It’s a way of life.
Muay Thai is the best striking martial art in the world cause it lets you fire back and punish the opponent from every position, offers a huge variety of fight-ending strikes, and helps you defend against bullies. But it also teaches you to respect your opponents and stick to a healthy lifestyle. It becomes one with you and turns you into a better person if you train for a prolonged time.
What are your thoughts on Muay Thai? Is this the best striking martial art in the world and why? Please share your answers with me in the comments section below!