What Is Muay Thai – All You Wanted To Know About It

You want to be able to defend yourself on the street and still maintain fitness physically?

Then Muay Thai is definitely the way to go for you.

Muay Thai is a combat sport originally from Thailand that uses stand up strikes with clinching techniques.

The focus is to train you to toughen your body aiming at using your body parts as tools to attack and subdue an attacker before they can attack you.

In the following uncut guide, you’ll discover everything you’ve always wanted to know about Muay Thai…

Muay Thai: The Science of Eight Limbs

Muay Thai or Thai boxing is also referred to a science of eight limbs or the art of limbs.

As opposed to boxing that uses two points of contact (fists), and four points (hands and feet) in other combats, Muay Thai uses eight limbs as contact points.

This is a function of using punches, kicks, elbowing and knee strikes. The points of contact thus are: the fists, legs, elbows and knees.

This well explains why the physical body fitness is of paramount importance in Thai boxing. Body parts as mentioned are the tools of the game. 

Muay Thai: Fighting Technique

Muay Thai fighting techniques have two facets.

The traditional style where opponents exchange blows with each other, that is, blow for blow. This is more aggressive and less popular today.

The other is the more popular approach in contemporary fighting today. It involves movement of the whole body like: kicking, elbowing, punching blocking and rotating the hip.

Here’s a quick outline of this popular combat sport:

Kicking (Te)

The most devastating Thai arsenal is the round kicking.

Coordination, weight transfer, flexibility, balanced body posture and accurate timed movement. This allows you to kick faster and harder, putting you in a better position to defend counter attacks.

Minimize friction of the support foot by getting on the toes of your support foot.

This will allow easy and fast rotation at a greater angle to deliver that deadly kick without losing you balance.

Knee (ti khao)

The knee is another equally lethal and important Muay Thai tool.

A well placed knee attack in the right area of the body will certainly doom your opponent.

It can knock unconscious an opponent, open a wound, break a rib, paralyze and damage a muscle.

At its most lethal, a knee attack and a hard hit can kill the attacker with best timing. There are 8 knee techniques executed in or out of the clinch or both. The straight, curved, diagonal, horizontal, long, flying, and small and rabbit knee strikes, are all options a Muay Thai fighter.

Elbow (sok)

You definitely don’t want, even accidentally, an elbow attack. It can cause a lot of damage to any part of the body. It’s a weapon readily available for defense by everyone in stressful circumstances.

Muay Thai has perfected the already used elbow to lethal levels. Be it horizontal, diagonal-upwards, diagonal-downwards, uppercut, downward, backward-spinning and flying the elbow can do it. Sideways, you can use the elbow to cut the opponents` eye brows and reduce vision or just as perfectly as a finishing blow. 

A single blow or several follow up blows in the same place when the distance with your opponent is close will definitely swiftly allow you to tame the attacker and take control.

Punching (chok)

Due to fusion with western boxing styles, punching is a limited Muay Thai technique today. However there eight punching techniques you will likely train as Muay Thai today.

The jab, straight punch or the cross, hook, uppercut, swing, over hand punch, spinning and the super man punch. Learn more about punches here.

It’s important to note that you can combine any of the Muay Thai punches with the other techniques to deliver a better blow to the opponent.

Foot thrust (thip)

Muay Thai foot thrust or push kicks is a blend of the knee and a quick foot or heel extension. You are mainly targeting to block the attacker off balance to enable you to attack.

Be very careful to pull your leg back as quickly as possible to avoid your target grabbing your leg and counter attack you when off balance.

These include: the side or round kick, diagonal kick, hock or down round kick, outside the knee joint kick and inside of the knee join kick. All are foot thrust options that you can engage as a violent and powerful weapon.

Clinch and neck wrestling (chap kho)

In other fights the fighters are separated in a clinch.In Muay Thai, it’s not a stalemate. The knee and elbow techniques are used to dissolve the clinch.

A proper clinch will involve the fighter's forearms pressing up against the opponent's collar bone whereas the hands are up and around the opponent's head and not his neck.

You can opt for the swan neck clinch, using one hand around the rear of the opponent’s neck when hanging.

Alternatively the low clinch, is executed by hugging the offenders body after passing the offenders hands under the defenders hands.

The ability to use the clinches will improve your position and effectiveness through the game.

Muay Thai: Defense

Like all the other forms of martial arts, Muay Thai operates under both offensive and defensive mechanism. Muay Thai defenses is categorized into six groups as discussed below…


It’s defending yourself against a strike or blow targeted at a specific sport. For example use of elbows and knees to avoid an oncoming clinch.

Its hard blocks that prevent an attack reaching its target. Blocking is essential to enable you to perform an accurate counter attack on your opponent or gain your attack position.

 A counter attack will definitely take you top of the game.


Changing the course of the attack will either reduce the impact or redirect the misled to a lesser impact target.

Better yet, it could give you an opportunity for a counter attack.

Whichever reason a quick reaction and use of the appropriate tool is paramount. For example a quick hip turn will defend you against that lethal foot thrust targeting your face.


As it suggests, you can move a body part or parts out of the way or range of a strike so the defender remains in range for a counter-strike.

For example, the defender moves their front leg backward to avoid the attacker's low kick, then immediately counters with a roundhouse kick.

Also, the defender might lay their head back from the attacker's high roundhouse kick then counter-attack with a side kick.


Moving the body out of the way or range of a strike. Swift hip rotation is the key to evasion.


Pre-empting an attack and catch the defender off-guard, using  techniques like jab, foot-thrust or low roundhouse kick, as the attacker attempts to close distance.


Defender catching a strike or countering it before it lands .For example, defender's low kick to the supporting leg below as the attacker initiates a high roundhouse kick.

Exercises For Improving Your Muay Thai Training

While Muay Thai will definitely teach you drills and exercisers of the game, there other equally important exercises you can do out of the ring to improve yourself.

This exercises get better with persistence and in combination with the in ring drills. These exercise include:

Weight shadow boxing

This involves total body muscles: arms, shoulders, chest, glutes, hips, calves, hamstrings and quads.

Start with holding a light dumbbell or kettle bell in each hand. With a Muay Thai stance, bring your hands up and work on each side of the body through a basic four punch combination (jab, cross, hook, uppercut).

The benefits of weight shadow boxing include; increased endurance, promotes fat burning and improved speed and punching power.

Rope Pulls

All body muscles will be involved.

You will get many health benefits of rope pulls. Importantly increased raw strength and power, burning and building lean muscle tissue.

A rope pull is done as follows:

Attach a Cross Fit rope to a pull sled or giant tire (you can be innovative on what is available to you).

Use an overhand grip to pull towards you the pull.

Finally, ensure that you use a hand over hand method for pulling.Doing this repetitively this will give you amazing results.

Jump Squats

The legendary jump squats can build explosive power in the lower body, supports fat burning and manage your kicks and knees.

To perform the jump squats you will need to do the following:

Bend your knees and drop your hips back with a tight core.

Pause once your knees reach parallel.

Forcefully and quickly push yourself off the ground and leap into the air.Ensure that you land on both feet and move right into another.

Benefits of Muay Thai Sport

As stated earlier, Muay Thai uses the body parts as tools of attack.

This also means that body fitness and wellness is a key component of a successful Muay Thai fighter. Let’s take a look at some of the top benefits you can reap from this sport…

Intense cardiovascular workout

With the training session, you can comfortably afford to lose a whopping 800 calories every workout hour.

It’s a sure way to watch your weight and fats melt off while enjoying the process.

So instead of other unhealthy weight loosing programs, you will be fit and safe if you choose the Muay Thai option.

Total body strength

Muay Thai demands a lot of your body. The toughening process will build a lot of endurance in your body.

The push and pull resistance exercises, speed and power drills, techniques and forms can drastically improve the amount of body power and raw energy that your body can generate. Regular compound movements like squats, deadlifts and bench presses will be notably improve in your weight room.

You will therefore easily enjoy body endurance among the very first benefits that will get better with practice.


Physical and mental discipline associated with physical body preparation, is the modes operandis of ancient and modern Muay Thai.

It goes without saying that you must maintain this premises of discipline in order to succeed as a fighter.

Not to say, that tis disciplined approach will be transferred to other areas of your life in general. For example as a trainee, maintaining a disciplined diet and meal time’s will ensure this as a tradition even when off training.

Hip flexibility

As discussed earlier hip movement and managing your body weight when in action is a key technique for survival.

The hip joint will therefore mostly but not always be your pivotal point.

In the ring you will need to lift your knees high and shins to protect yourself.

You will also need to block and stretch and even do quick moves to place your opponent in a better attacking position.

This will provide you with a lot of hip flexibility.


Being in the best shape, knowing you can protect yourself and others and managing the discipline you acquire in training, can boost your confidences highly.

Not to mention that a high self-esteem will go a long way in your overall success as a trainee.

Stress relief

Life is stressful on its own.All the above benefits will ease the stress on your body.It is also common knowledge that the intensity of work out reduces and eliminates stress.

Final Thoughts

Of all martial arts in the modern world, Muay Thai has made a name for itself and is a popular practice all over the world.

Muay Thai has evolved into a worldwide sporting activity complete with rules and regulations of training and competition. It has adjusted its strikes to make it less lethal and focused more on body fitness and discipline.

The element of physical fitness and total control of the body makes Muay Thai very attractive and accommodated in many gyms, school and military training institutions.

Its flexibility has seen it turn into a popular sport of world’s art martial today.

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