The Sport of Muay Thai
Now a competitive combat sport, Muay Thai was developed thousands of years ago as an effective means for Thai soldiers to defend themselves in hand-to-hand situations or if they were stripped of their weapons. As MMA rose in popularity, more and more fighters began disciplining themselves in Muay Thai because of the art’s heavy focus on using every limb as a weapon.
How to fight Muay Thai
With the exception of the head, pretty much every limb should be utilized when competing in Muay Thai. These strikes are fast, consecutive, and land on just about every part of the body. The world’s best Muay Thai fighters are incredibly lean as the art prioritizes speed and agility over raw strength.
There is little equipment when it comes to competing in Muay Thai. Fighters will wear a protective mouthguard, sanctioned fighting gloves (or wraps), groin guards, and sometimes shin guards (depending on the type of tournament). Long hair and beards are discouraged from competition.
Rules of Muay Thai
- There are almost 20 different divisions in Muay Thai, ranging from Mini Flyweight (105 lb) to Super Heavyweight (209 lb +).
- Fighters must be at least 15 years old, and at least 100 lb to compete. Also, two competing fighters must never have more than a 5 lb difference from each other.
- Muay Thai matches are always one-on-one, and they take place in a ring that may vary in size depending on the type of tournament. Smaller rings are around 16 feet squared, with larger rings around 24 feet squared. Each ring will have four padded turnbuckles and four ropes.
- All fighters must partake in a pre-fight tradition, where they’ll wear a ritualistic headband and pay homage to the art.
- Fighters are prohibited from removing their gloves at any point throughout the fight. This will lead to immediate disqualification.
- There are five, three minute rounds in a match -- with two minute resting periods in between rounds.
- Headbutting, groin strikes, tossing, biting, hair pulling, and grappling are prohibited techniques. However, fighters can engage in a clinch if they’d like.
- There are three ways to end a fight: by technical knockout (TKO) if the referee deems a fighter unfit to continue, knockout, or by points.
- 10 points will be given to the winner of a round, with the loser getting 7 (clearly lost), 8 (somewhat lost), or 9 (a close decision) points.
Unlike any other combat sport, professional Muay Thai fighters (typically in Thailand) can fight multiple times a month! This is unheard of in other disciplines, especially considering the amount of time your body needs to recover after a match.
Written by: Devin Pickell