Muay Thai Is Much More Than Just A Devastating Ring Sport

Hardcore kickboxing fans recognize Muay Thai as a devastating ring sport.

MMA fanatics know it as one of the most lethal striking styles in the sport of mixed martial arts.

But, it is much more than just a devastating ring sport or a lethal striking style.

It has been referred to as a form of martial skill, a king of science, and undeniably an art form.

My intention here is to preserve the legacy of Muay Thai as a self-defense art.

In order to do that, I must explore a very large variety of topics to present you with a deeper and more thorough appreciation of an art that is part of the cultural heritage of Thailand and its people.

Effective In Any Era

Historical accounts tell us that in 1584 Muay Thai played a role in restoring Thai freedom during the reign of King Naresuan the Great. 

For Thailand, Muay Thai is a part of the country’s cultural heritage.

The modern sport of Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) has brought Thai Boxing to the forefront of striking arts in America.  The sport of MMA has created a hybrid warrior that strives to be dangerous both standing and on the ground.  

For mixed martial artists, Thai Boxing training is an essential component to improve one’s stand-up striking skills. 

The King of Martial Arts

I refer to Thai Boxing as the king of martial arts for three primary reasons – it reigned supreme against foreign arts, even the nobility and royalty participated, and in the old times it protected the king.

If you’re interested in Thai Boxing’s reign of supremacy against foreign arts, you must read Thai Boxing Dynamite: The Explosive Art of Muay Thai. The author writes about all of the foreign martial artists that went to Thailand to challenge Thai boxers.  The Thai boxers dominated their adversaries for a very, very long time.

Chronicles from the Ayutthaya period relate tales of King Naresuan, who was also known as Phra Chao Sua (Lord of the Tigers), disguising himself so that he could participate in Muay Thai matches.

In ancient times, those skilled in the art of Muay Thai would often be granted the title of nobleman.  They would be answerable to the Defense Ministry.  Additionally, they would serve as bodyguards for the king.

The Science of Eight Limbs

Thai Boxing is often referred to as the science of eight limbs.  This is due to the fact that a Thai boxer uses feet (shins), knees, hands, and elbows.

The Thai boxer uses his feet and shins to deliver a variety of powerful kicks that include the feared round kick and the powerful push kick.

He uses his knees to deliver an assortment of punishing knee strikes that includes straight knees, long knees, and knees delivered from the clinch.

He uses his hands to deliver a collection of punches that include jabs, straight punches, hooks, and uppercuts.

He uses his elbows to deliver an array of penetrating elbows that are delivered with hooking, uppercut, or overhand motions.

In ancient times, the Thai boxer also used his head to strike the opponent. 

A Striker's Dream

As you know, Thai Boxing teaches the use of “eight limbs.” 

This is what makes it a striker’s dream! 

The Thai Boxing arsenal includes trademarks such as:

  • Crippling round kicks to the legs
  • Devastating knees delivered from the clinch
  • A variety of hands that resemble Western boxing
  • Violent elbows that possess highly destructive capabilities

A Special Place In My Heart

Thai Boxing holds a special place in my heart for two reasons.

For starters, I love the brutality and physicality of this art.

Not only does it use the body’s strongest weapons, but it brings them to bear with great power. 

This potent combination makes for a brutally effective striking art.  

Personally performing a rapid succession of round kicks or a blistering series of skip knees into the Thai pads is the best way to experience the physicality of Thai Boxing. 

You will find that this is some high-octane cardiovascular training.

An armchair experience can be had by reading accounts of Muay Thai training. 

These accounts are available by reading books, such as Thai Boxing Dynamite: The Explosive Art of Muay Thai and Muay Thai: The Most Distinguished Art of Fighting or by reading training schedules for some of the Muay Thai camps in Thailand.

Thai Boxing is also near and dear to my heart because my wife, Piyanan, is from Thailand. 

As you know, Muay Thai is part of the cultural heritage of Thailand. 

By learning more about Muay Thai, I also learn more about Thailand’s (and my wife’s) culture.

The Best Training Session Ever

The most intense and taxing training session that I’ve ever participated in consisted exclusively of Thai Boxing. 

My brothers-in-training, Bert Hill and Quan Do, and I spent three hours performing pyramid-style 9-count, 13-count, and 15-count combinations as outlined by Ajarn Surachai "Chai" Sirisute, the founder and head instructor of the World Thai Boxing Association

Fierce intensity and Thai drills are the perfect ingredients to create the best training session ever.

My First Muay Thai VCD Experience

I still vividly recall my first VCD (video compact disc) experience. 

My fiancée at the time (now my wife), sent me a Muay Thai VCD from Songchai Productions. 

Songchai is considered, by many, to be the top Thai Boxing promoter in Thailand. 

Even though it’s been years since my first VCD experience, three things remain fresh in my mind:

  • the devastating effects of elbows,
  • the ability of a Thai boxer to absorb punishment, and
  • the dividends that perfectly timed leg kicks can pay

Evil Elbows

If you’ve never witnessed a skilled Thai boxer delivering elbow strikes, then it’s unlikely that you’ve seen truly evil elbows. 

In one bout on the VCD, I watched as one Thai boxer delivered evil elbow after evil elbow. 

By the end of the second round, the Thai boxer on the receiving end was so cut up and bloody I found myself praying that the referee would stop the fight. 

He did not! 

Punishment Sponges

A sponge has the ability to absorb water and when squeezed it can return (give back) water. 

Many Thai boxers are punishment sponges. 

They have an uncanny ability to absorb punishment and an equally uncanny ability to deliver punishment. 

My first VCD experience allowed me to see this with my own eyes. 

The Thai boxer I told you about earlier – you remember, the one who was cut up and bloodied by the evil elbows – was a true-to-life punishment sponge.

For two rounds, he was beaten and battered by countless elbow strikes. 

Part way through the third round, he turned the tide and began imposing his will on his opponent. 

Despite winning the final two rounds (my opinion), he lost a close decision.

While he lost a decision, he certainly won my respect for himself, his art, and his sport.

Leg Kicks & Big Dividends

I am a huge fan of leg kicking! 

I am a firm believer that leg kicking is much preferred to head or body kicking. 

Sure head kicking and body kicking might look more impressive and can certainly produce devastating results, but leg kicking is safer and can be equally devastating.

I remember years ago watching Marco Ruas repeatedly deliver leg kicks to the tree-trunk legs of Parl Varelans in the early days of the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC). 

Despite Varelans very large stature, he eventually succumbed to those leg kicks.

My first VCD experience also allowed me to witness the dividends that perfectly timed leg kicks can pay for a Thai boxer. 

One victorious Thai boxer repeatedly used leg kicks as counters to his opponent’s kicking attempts. 

As his opponent attempted to deliver round kicks, the victorious Thai boxer used angulation and impeccable timing to continuously attack his opponent’s plant leg.

The bottom line is this – leg kicks can pay big dividends!

Success Is In Simplicity & Training

The top Thai boxers achieve success through simplicity and training.

Success through simplicity comes from a limited number of techniques. 

Most fighters rely on a few well-tooled techniques at most. 

Top fighters become so adept at using just a few weapons that a few weapons are all they need.

Success through training comes from perhaps the most rigorous training sessions known to any sport. 

While this can be seen by looking at the training regimens of Thai boxers, it is best understood through firsthand experience. 

If you’re up for a trip to Thailand, training at one of the many Muay Thai training camps is sure to give you a newfound appreciation of what it means to train hard. 

If a trip to Thailand isn’t in the cards, you can gain some firsthand experience right here in Falling Waters, WV.

Your Next Step

While your next step is clearly your choice, I do have three recommendations for you.

  1. If you live in our service area (see below) and are ready to start learning some Muay Thai or just want more information, contact us today!

  2. If you live outside of our service area and you're ready to start your Muay Thai training, look for a local Thai Boxing teacher near you and call today!

  3. Regardless of your location, use this gateway for further exploration into the magnificent martial art of Muay Thai.
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  • Vital Points & Weapons of Choice

Service Area

Given our prime location, we are in an ideal position to serve the 4-state area of West Virginia, Maryland, Pennsylvania, and Virginia.

Here is a partial list of some of the cities and towns we serve:

  • Berkeley County, WV: Marlowe, Falling Waters, Martinsburg, and Hedgesville

  • Jefferson County, WV: Bolivar, Charles Town, Harpers Ferry, Ranson, and Shepherdstown

  • Washington County, MD: Williamsport, Hagerstown, Clear Spring, Funkstown, Sharpsburg, Keedysville, Boonsboro, Smithsburg, and Hancock
  • Frederick County, MD: Braddock Heights, Middletown, and Frederick

  • Franklin County, PA: Greencastle, Chambersburg, and Waynesboro

  • Frederick County, VA: Winchester

  • Morgan County, WV: Berkeley Springs

Thanks for checking out Muay Thai!

Ron Hebb

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