Muay Thai is a striking martial art that originated in Thailand, and it's popular worldwide for its effectiveness in the ring and real-life combat. This combat sport has evolved to encompass a wide range of fighting styles, each with its own unique characteristics, benefits, and drawbacks.
In this article, we'll take a closer look at the different types of Muay Thai fighting styles and explore how each style is practiced and applied in the ring. Whether you're a beginner, intermediate, or advanced practitioner, understanding the fundamentals of each style is crucial to creating a dynamic and adaptable fighting style that can overcome any challenge.
Need help determining which style is best for you? Keep reading to find out where to begin!
1. Muay Mat (The Heavy Puncher)
The term "Mat" in Thai means "to punch," and as the name suggests, this fighting style relies heavily on heavy hands to deliver fast and powerful punches. In addition to punches, Muay Mat fighters also utilize low kicks to add to their destruction. Fighters who employ this style are renowned for their knockout abilities, and their aggressive nature gives them a psychological edge over their opponents, who often fear their punching power.
This makes them particularly effective in the opening rounds of a fight, where they can overwhelm their opponents with their power. However, if their opponents can withstand the initial onslaught, Muay Mat fighters often give up points and suffer decision losses.
Rodtang "The Iron Man" Jitmuangnon, who is currently the ONE Flyweight Muay Thai World Champion, has gained fame as a Muay Mat.
2. Muay Femur (The Technician)
Muay Femur is a fighting style that is all about using your brain, rather than relying solely on brute strength. Fighters who practice this style may not excel in any one particular technique, but they make up for it with their high IQ and strategic thinking in the ring.
These fighters are known for being very calculated in their approach, carefully selecting their moves, and avoiding unnecessary risks. Rather than throwing punches recklessly, they focus on staying safe and picking their shots wisely.
Sam-A Gaiyanghadao, Superlek, and Saenchai are among the noteworthy Femur fighters in the world of Muay Thai, with Saenchai being the most prominent.
3. Muay Tae (The Kicker)
A Muay Tae fighter is someone who relies on kicks as their primary weapon in combat. These fighters use powerful and heavy Muay Thai kicks to gradually wear down their opponents. Because they prefer to use their legs, they often keep a distance from their opponents, making it difficult for fighters who prefer to use punches or knees to get close enough to land significant strikes.
Muay Tae fighters are known for their ability to generate immense kicking power through consistent and rigorous training, which builds a solid foundation of proper form, balance, and durable shins. This enables them to deliver powerful and precise kicks with efficiency and accuracy, making them a challenging adversary in the ring.
Samkor Kiatmonthep, Petchdam Gaiyanghadao, and Buakaw Banchamek are some of the most prominent kickers in the sport.
4. Muay Khao (The Clinch and Knee Specialist)
Muay Khao fighters are experts in clinch-range combat and use this skill to unleash a barrage of knee strikes on their opponents. This style of fighting is very technical and also requires a lot of strength and cardio conditioning. Therefore, Muay Khao fighters are known for their exceptional conditioning and possess superior cardiovascular and muscular endurance.
Knee strikes are the primary weapons in a Muay Khao fighter's arsenal, but they also use punches and kicks to support their attacks. In addition to knees, some Muay Khao fighters incorporate elbow strikes into their fighting style, taking advantage of the close-range position in a clinch.
Petchmorakot Petchyindee and Diesel Noi are among the renowned knee fighters in the sport.
5. Muay Sok (The Elbow Assassin)
Muay Sok fighters are known for their devastating Muay Thai elbow strikes. The elbow is one of the strongest and sharpest bones in the human body and, when thrown with velocity and precision, can cause serious damage to an opponent.
These fighters tend to favor fighting from the inside and are constantly searching for openings to unleash their powerful elbow strikes. They often wait for the right moment, slipping in an elbow strike between their opponent's punches.
Although Muay Sok is considered the rarest of the five fighting styles, these fighters are some of the most dangerous in the sport, as a single well-placed elbow can change the entire course of a fight.
Jongsanan Fairtex and Toby Smith are considered to be some of the top Muay Thai elbow fighters.
The various types of Muay Thai fighting styles all have their unique characteristics and advantages, allowing practitioners to choose a style that best suits their strengths and preferences. Whether you prefer to rely on your punching power, strategic thinking, kicking prowess, clinch and knee strikes, or elbow strikes, the key to mastering any style is consistent training and hard work.
At Ubud Muay Thai, we welcome beginners, intermediate, and advanced practitioners to train and develop their Muay Thai skills with our experienced instructors. Come join our community and start your Muay Thai journey today!