So you watched the movie Kickboxer from back in the day and now you want to do Muay Thai. FYI, Thong Po is played by a white guy in makeup. It’s a movie people, and a pretty crappy one at that. Please don’t ask me when we are going to kick trees.
Muay Thai is the national sport of Thailand. It is the Thai version of Kickboxing. Other forms of kickboxing utilize the knees, kicks, and punches that the Thai’s use but Muay Thai is unique with its clinch work and elbows. Where Kickboxing is pure sport in most places, in Thailand it is an art with rituals and long held traditions that represent the spirit of the Thai people.
Let’s dispel some of the myths perpetuated by Hollywood.
Do Thai’s really kick trees? Yes, but misleading. Banana trees are not soft but similar to hard rubber. Before heavy bags became more readily available, Muay Thai fighters would hit these trees. It wasn’t to harden their shins, it was because they had nothing else to hit besides each other!
Do people fight without gloves and with crushed glass? Yes and kind of. Thailand and Burma have had a long standing rivalry as to who has better fighting arts. Burmese boxing bouts are conducted with wraps only, no gloves. Muay Thai is conducted with boxing gloves. On the rare holiday or challenge match between Burmese Boxers and Muay Thai Boxers you will find wrap only bouts. The glass idea from the movies came about because before the advent of gloves, glass was ground down to a sand consistency and used as a binder on hand wraps with tree sap. The wraps were not made into sharp objects, they were simply bound better with this paste.
Do fighters really go hit for hit until somebody falls? Nope, Muay Thai is a tough art for sure but it is not a toughman competition. Fighters for sure blast away but they also employ very sophisticated defense strategies. A Muay Thai fighter will fall to the same strikes any human will.
If you train in real Muay Thai you will come to see that it is a beautiful art with a rich tradition. The combat effectiveness is pretty clear along with its ability to be incorporated into sports like MMA. You can train as a Muay Thai enthusiast or as a fighter. The art is effective and diverse enough to handle people of varied levels and goals.
Make sure you do your homework before you try and emulate Hollywood and get yourself hurt!
Killer B Combat Sports