The sport of Muay Thai has become well known all around the globe. This fighting art was once used in real combat by Siamese soldiers. During the last couple of centuries the emphasis has been on sport. Muay Thai is often referred to as the art of eight limbs because it involves using almost every part of the body. The Nak Muay (Thai fighter) uses his legs, knees, feet, hands, and elbows to attack the opponent. Traditional Muay Thai (Muay Boran) can also use weapons – a good example of this is Krabi Krabong which is commonly taught in Thai schools.
Despite its fierce reputation it is actually possible for practically anyone to enjoy Muay Thai. Age is no barrier to the training – there are people learning this martial art for the first time in their sixties. The only real requirement is that people have a reasonably amount of physical fitness. If people hope to do well in sport Muay Thai then it is better that they begin at an early age but for most Nak Muay outside of Thailand this will not be their motivation.
Muay Thai can be a great option for people in recovery because:
* It teaches self discipline
* It increases self confidence and self esteem. One of the characteristics of the addictive personality is low self esteem so anything that can increase this is helpful.
* It allows the Nak Muay to gain mastery over their body.
* Muay Thai is an intense physical activity. This means that those who practice it can gain a high degree of physical fitness.
* This type of martial arts training can teach people humility and patience. These are highly beneficial attitudes for people in recovery.
* Muay Thai can be a type of moving meditation – especially when practicing Muay Boran or shadow boxing.
* It increases balance and coordination.
* Learning Muay Thai is a wonderful way to socialize and meet new people.
* People in early recovery may find that they are faced with a great deal of stress, and this is not something they might be used to. Muay Thai is a great outlet for pent up tension in the body.
* It gives the individual the confidence to be able to defend themselves if they were ever physically attacked.
* Some people find that this type of martial art can be a type of spiritual path.
* If is a wonderful hobby for people in recovery because it involves so many challenges. Boredom is a risk for people who are trying to stay sober but with Muay Thai there is never a dull moment.
* A Muay Thai session is a great way to vent frustrations. Just kicking a bag for a few minutes can help people release negative emotions.
* The life of the Nak Muay is the complete opposite of the path of the addict.
It is possible to practice Muay Thai as a sport or as an art. Sport Muay Thai is focused on competition fighting. The aim of the training is to help the individual develop the skills they will need to perform well in the ring. For many Nak Muay who are focused on the sport their aim will be to build up conditioning prior to a fight. Once the fight is out of the way they will reduce their training (some even stop altogether) until they have the next fight to build up to. Many of those who are involved in sport Muay Thai will give the martial art up when they no longer want to fight. There are usually no belts, or other grading system, in Muay Thai so people can easily lose motivation if they have no fight to build toward. Some western gyms have introduced belts to keep students motivated.
Muay Thai as an art is something that people can turn into a lifelong practice. The aim here is to master techniques and there is always something new to learn. Those who are interested in the art of Muay Thai might never bother with entering fights. There is also traditional Muay Thai which uses strikes that would not be allowed in competition. Many Nak Muay are interested in both the art and sport of Muay Thai. It is more about the motivations of the individual than the actual school teaching this martial art. Some students turn up to Muay Thai class with the intention of fighting in competition while others are more focused on mastering the subtleties of the art.
There can be a great deal of variation in Muay Thai training sessions. In Thailand a typical session involves:
* 30 minute warm up. This can be either running or using a skipping rope.
* Shadow boxing
* Pad work involves a trainer holding pads while the Nak Muay attempts different techniques. Pad work is usually done in rounds – for example, there could be five rounds each of which is 4 minutes.
* Bag work involves practicing techniques on the various bags in the gyms. The heavier bags allow the Nak Muay to build up their conditioning.
* Clinching (Plam Muay) involves using grappling techniques against an opponent. While clinching it is also possible to land knees and pull the opponent off balance.
* Sparring involves using all techniques against an opponent. The Nak Muay will usually wear more protective gear than in a real Muay Thai fight and they will be advised to take it easy.
There are now Muay Thai lesson available in most urban areas around the globe. There are a few things worth considering before taking up this type of class:
* Those people who have not exercised in a long time or have any type of medical condition will be advised to seek medical advice before taking up Muay Thai.
* It will be necessary for people to purchase a few items in order to be able to train Muay Thai. The items needed include: shorts, hand wraps, gum shield, and gloves.
* Most Muay Thai schools will provide a free introduction lesson. It is worth attending a few different schools to get a feel for what each has to offer.
* If people do not wish to spar or clinch then they do not have to take part in these activities. Beginners will usually wait a few months before they attempt this type of combat.
* Some Thai boxing camps in the west now use a belt grading system. This can be a good option for beginners because it will help to keep them motivated.
* Those people who are completely new to Muay Thai might prefer to try some private lessons at first. This will allow them to build their confidence before joining a regular class.
* One of the great joys of Muay Thai is the opportunity to go train in Thailand. There are many camps in Thailand that have special packages for westerners who want to go train there.
Muay Thai is not something that is going to appeal to everyone. There are plenty of other martial arts that offer similar benefits and these are also worth considering including:
* Tai Chi is a martial art that is best known as a type of moving meditation. This is a good option for people who desire a far less intense experience than Muay Thai.
* Tae Kwon Do is currently the most popular martial art in the world. It involves flashy high kicks and can also be practiced as a sport or an art.
* Karate is the Okinawan art of the empty hand. There are many styles of Karate and there are believed to be as many as 50 million practitioners of Karate.
* Aikido is a Japanese martial art that is believed to be effective for people no matter what their size. It is described as a spiritual path as well as a combat system.
* Kung Fu was made famous by the legendary Bruce Lee. This Chinese martial art has something to offer people of all ages and abilities.