Muay Thai Pros and Cons (Ultimate Guide)


Muay Thai (Thai kickboxing) is one of the most lethal martial arts out there, and is also known as the “art of the eight limbs.” But is it right for you? Let’s look at the Muay Thai pros and cons.

Here’s what I discovered training it a little:

The pros of Muay Thai include fitness, self-defense, and learning the skills faster as there is no philosophy or choreographed routines to master. The cons of Muay Thai include frequent injuries, and with the focus primarily on kicks, and arm strikes, practitioners are more vulnerable if taken to the ground.

Is it dangerous and hard to learn? What are its other advantages and disadvantages?

In this article, I’ll answer these key questions and others. I’ve been involved in martial arts my whole life and seriously in the last seven years. The following is an objective take on some vital distinctions about Muay Thai.

Let the fun begin!

Why is Muay Thai so dangerous?

Muay Thai is dangerous because it has very few rules, and is designed to quickly and violently immobilize your opponent using elbow strikes, knee strikes, or any means necessary. In fact, Muay Thai is so lethal, some of its techniques are banned in MMA.

Ultimately, you’re being trained to fight, using different parts of the body swiftly. You’re leveraging, “eight limbs.”

The focus is not on being defensive or trying to enact a peaceful outcome in which no one is hurt. Oh, no! It’s to win the fight “by any means necessary.” In real Muay Thai, the only rule is that fighters must remain standing, apart from that “anything goes.”

In fact, people have died fighting Muay Thai, unfortunately including at least 1 teenager.

In some other combat systems, mastery of the techniques is crucial for advancement and gaining respectability from peers. Not so in Muay Thai.

The best fighters are not the masters. It’s not about having mastered techniques. It’s about being able to crush your assailants. So, while technique is important, speed and aggression are ultimately more important.

It’s this clear focus and lack of rules that makes MT dangerous.

From the above, it’s clear that MT is one of the best fighting systems out there. What about Krav Maga and Kung Fu? Can Krav Maga beat Kung Fu?

I explored the answer in a recent article of mine. Just click the link to read it on my site.

Is learning Muay Thai hard?

Learning Muay Thai is hard. To fight professionally requires 3-5 years of dedicated training, but for fitness or basic self-defense skills, the fundamentals can be learned in 6-12 months.

It’s got to be.

But, it depends on what you’re learning it for and on you. If you want to master it so that you can engage in competitive fights, you’ll have to work extremely hard.

You’ve got your work cut out for you. But, if you’re looking at using it as a vehicle for becoming fit, for building endurance, for conditioning your body, and for just enjoying it as a sport, you can take things a bit easy.

But it’s hard. As you can recall from the first section, its goal is to crush your attackers. Does that sound like something that’ll be easy?

One of the reasons it’s hard is that you’ll need to be physically fit to excel at it.

It’s unlike other martial arts, where you can harness and use the attacker’s energy against them. In Muay Thai, you need to be strong. As part of the beginning training in some gyms, you may be required to do at least 60 kicks, push-ups, and skips each session.

Earlier, I said it also depends on you.

If you’re consistent, you should be quite good at it in a year, and after about three years, you should be deadly, not yet a master, but you would have learned the most vital techniques to learn. It’s not an easy art to learn, but it’s worth it.

Truth be told, most martial art forms are not easy to learn.

They require years of dedication. Take Taekwondo and Aikido; both require years to master, too. You might be wondering which one’s better when it comes to self-defense? I answered the question in a recent article of mine.

Just click the link to read it on my site.

Is Muay Thai good for self-defense?

Muay Thai is excellent for self-defense as there are no unnecessary choreographed routines or philosophy to learn, and the primary goal is the eliminate the opponent quickly and violently.

It’s also great for self-defense because it’s the “art of the eight limbs”— you’re using several parts of your body as weapons.

Your shin, elbows, knees, and hands become deadly weapons after you’ve learned MT.

The goal is to use them to crush your opponent and to do it fast. So, you’re being trained to quickly defeat an attacker or a group of attackers.

The striking techniques in MT are deadly because they’re meant to be delivered with immense strength and swiftness. They are designed to knock out an assailant!

Consider that flying knee kicks to the head or devastating roundhouse kicks to the kidney are all fair game in MT.

It’s lethal! Unless your assailant is a superb, trained fighter, it’s accurate to say that with Muay Thai, you’ll have them on the ground in a few minutes.

And, they won’t know what hit them.

Another reason Muay Thai is good for self-defense is that you’re trained to fight multiple attackers from the get-go. It’s an integral part of the training. And, you’ll agree with me that a lot of street fights are just like that — you have to contend with multiple attackers.

You’re also trained on how to gauge distance so that you deliver the deadliest blows and kicks. Don’t forget that if you sense that you’re outnumbered, the best strategy is to flee.

So, you agree that Muay Thai is good for self-defense; what about BJJ vs. Judo?

Which one’s better? That’s exactly what I explored in a recent article of mine. Ultimately they are related as Jiujit-su led to the creation of both BJJ and Judo. But one has clearly emerged as the top martial art to practice.

Just click the link to read it on my site.

What are the top advantages and disadvantages of Muay Thai?

Let’s have a look at some of the top advantages and disadvantages of Muay Thai.

Advantages

  • Several parts of your body are trained to become effective and deadly weapons. Shins, elbows, knees, and hands are orchestrated to crush an opponent and to do it swiftly.
  • You don’t need a long time to grasp its fundamentals and become good at it, unlike other Asian martial arts, which are often highly suffused with spiritual elements, that won’t help you in a real fight.
  • It’s fast-paced and intense, so you’re also building endurance when you practice Muay Thai. There are no slow dance-like movements. It’s an intense workout. So, it offers increased cardiovascular fitness.
  • It’s not just punches & kicks. A lot of fights in real life involve grappling. MT has its own form of grappling (it’s different from those employed in other arts). It’s known as clinching. It gives MT fighters an edge because it’s usually used to take down an opponent or to swiftly set them up for a dizzying knee kick to the head!
  • Practitioners develop leg and core strength. You learn how to kick exceedingly well in MT. In fact, the roundhouse kicks are one of the deadliest, when it connects with the target. Doing a lot of kicks helps in developing your legs. The clinching, striking, and defensive movements you’ll learn will contribute to a strong core.

Disadvantages

  • It’s easy to get hurt both in training and in professional fights. I don’t think I need to explain this further.
  • As with boxers, repeat blows to the head can cause brain damage. The research is not definitive, but it’s quite possible that your brain could be adversely affected.
  • Ground fighting won’t be one of your strengths. So, you’ll probably suffer a harsh beat down if you fight someone who’s good at BJJ or Judo and who takes you down as soon as the fight starts.
  • Muay Thai doesn’t teach you how to be fluid (think of the dance-like movements of Mohammed Ali). So, if you’re up against someone who can weave with ease, they could exploit the fact that you can’t easily protect yourself, and they can easily dodge some of your “shots.”

Conclusion

In the paragraphs above, we explored what many consider the deadliest martial art on earth.

I looked at why it’s dangerous, whether learning it is hard, why it’s useful for self-defense, and I wrapped things up by sharing the advantages and disadvantages.

Ultimately, Muay Thai is a great fitness routine and workout.

You’ll get strong, fit, and ready for any self-defense situation that might come your way. And you won’t be learning a lot of routines that look good in a performance but don’t have many real-world applications.

But do be aware of the dangers if you plan to fight professionally.


Photo which requires attribution:

2010 West Coast Can-Ams by MartialArtsNomad.com is licensed under CC2.0

Jeff Campbell

Jeff Campbell was Academy Director for a large martial arts school for over 7 years, and has trained extensively in a variety of martial arts including Brazilian Jiujitsu, different styles of Karate, the Russian Martial Art of Systema, Aikido, and much more.

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