Modern practitioners of Muay Thai
By Sammy "Big Ben"
Muay Thai is considered the most effective stand up martial art today. With the constantly growing number of MMA gyms there's an increase in the interest of learning Muay Thai, since it's an essential part of the stand up game.
It is simply amazing to see how many MMA practitioners seek out the roots of learning Muay Thai in Thailand.
Many think coming to Thailand will teach them to "just" learn how to kick and punch. As any experienced fighter will tell you that's just barely scratching the surface. There's so much more to Muay Thai, which many people have now experienced in the home and birthplace of the ancient art. MMA on the other hand is far away from from being an artform in itself and has merely borrowed techniques from the ancient Thai martial art. Don't get me wrong MMA is complete as a fighting sport, standup and ground game combined.
Authentic, traditional, really beautiful Muay Thai can only be enjoyed in Thailand by those fortunate enough to be able to spectate in the real Muay Thai stadiums. In MMA there's a stare down before the fight, to intimidate the opponent often in a disrespectful way, complete with trash talk etc. Personally I dislike it as it’s not sportsman like behavior in my book. In stark contrast Muay Thai is the exact opposite, you pay tribute to your gym and show respect for everyone including your opponent. A traditional "dance" or ceremony begins wai Kru /'ram muay before each fight by both combatants to show respect and honor for your gym and trainer as well as win the crowd over.
Ancient armbands and headbands are used, prajet & mongkol which in ancient times would distinguish the Siam Warriors of Thailand from the Burmese and Cambodian boxers who don't wear the mongkol. It also has roots in the ancient kingdom as well as buddhist beliefs.
Muay Thai used to be exclusively for fighters only, often the underprivileged had no option but to fight to get a meal ticket, Muay Thai gyms did not charge their students as you would train to fight and then the day of the fight would be the payday for both gym and fighter alike.Now you can get memberships weekly, monthly, yearly and it's acceptable to use Muay Thai training as a way to stay fit and learn self defense at the same time, it's now "clean" and ok to practise Muay Thai for everyone no matter what your social status.It has actually become a hip thing and a status symbol to have a memberships at a gym.
Since it's now an accepted sport my hope is that more people will pick up some gloves and try to train at a gym nearby. It’s great because now everyone can practise Muay Thai regardless of social status and today there are many gyms with " fitness" classes based on Muay Tthai. Yes in many gyms it's watered down, so that everyone can enjoy the basics and still get a good workout.
Muay Thai today is a way to stay fit, whilst learning a great Martial art and self defense at the same time.
If you haven't tried it yet, you should.
Why do many choose to come to Thailand and learn Muay Thai?
Full Muay Thai rules
A real family setting, not an industrial size camp with indoor facilities air con. We are talking bamboo to kick, and palm trees blowing in the breeze!
About the author.
Sammy "Big Ben" is a Mixed Martial Artist in the truest form, he started the Journey of martial arts 30 years ago He has always had Muay Thai in his heart, and has had many years of fighting & training other martial arts, Shaolin, Karate, TaeKwonDo, Shootfight, Kendo, Hapkido, Brazilian Jiu-jitsu , MMA, Boxing, Grappling, & Muay Thai. Sammy trained and competed, and is now dedicated to teaching and passing on the years of knowledge he accumulated over the years, both inside and outside of the gym.