An Introduction To Muay Thai

As some are already aware, The Farm Bjj has begun offering Muay Thai classes. As such, it felt appropriate to explain here on the site what, exactly, Muay Thai is and a brief background on it as a martial art.


In 1774 Nai Khanohm Tom was famous for his battle against a group of Burmese. Nai Khanom Tom was a prisoner of war in Burma. The Burmese had captured him when they sacked and burnt Thailand’s ancient capital Ayutthaya. Nai Khanom Tom must have been a great fighter. Without pause, he took them on one by one through a battering and bruising contest. He defeated ten of Burma’s best. King Mangra was one of the first to applaud the feat he had witnessed. ‘Every part of the Thai is blessed with venom, even with his bare hands he can fell nine or ten opponents.’ The King gave Nai Thanom Tom his freedom and he retuned to Ayutthaya. and a heroes welcome. The army fostered Muay Thai. Soldiers have trained and used the techniques for as long as there has been an army in Thailand. For the military it has always been the close combat fighting skill, the martial art of the battlefield. When a Thai soldier fights hand to hand he uses Muay Thai. But then so does every Thai person, male or female. Watching it, learning it, copying it is a part of Thai childhood. It always has been. Muaythai became the favourite sport and pastime of the people, the army and the King. Historical sources show that people from all walks of life flocked to training camps. Rich, poor, young and old all wanted some of the action. Every village staged its prize fights and had its champions. Every bout became a betting contest as well as a contest of local pride. The betting tradition has remained with the sport and today large sums are wagered on the outcome of fights. Muaythai compettition was an activity that earned income for boxers throughout Sukhothai, Ayutthaya and Rattanakosin periods.

Having traveled to Thailand, I can assure you that the part about every Thai person learning it from childhood is mostly accurate. It is akin to the sport of baseball in the United States — while not all are good at it, everyone has a fairly solid familiarity with it as a sport. What is truly interesting about the culture is that it is completely normal for a couple of 7 year olds to have a full contact match in the middle of a bar at 10 pm on a Friday night.

Today, many know Muay Thai as one of the main aspects of modern MMA, but don’t necessarily understand the intracacies of what makes it different than other arts. As you can see from the above quote, it has a long history of its own and rightfully so, as it has proven extremely effective in many arenas.

I prefer to think of Muay Thai as the bulldozer of martial arts; it’s not going to impress you with wild, flashy movements, but it may plow over you with brute force. Where a boxer may feint, a Muay Thai fighter will simply walk forward; where a practioner of Karate may snap out a carefully-aimed kick, the Thai fighter will attempt to swing his leg like a baseball bat through their opponent. Muay Thai is not about strategy so much as it is about destiny — the destiny of combat and its outcome.

In that regard, Muay Thai is intrinsically linked to the culture of the people who brought it to us. They do not believe in scoring points against their opponent, as their philosophy is more closely related to the acceptance of being involved in pure combat. By the time a Muay Thai fighter enters the ring, they have already accepted the pain of being punched, kicked, elbowed, or thrown to the ground as part of their reality that they are simply acting out. It is for this reason that Thais are simultaneously incredibly friendly people while demonstrating a ferocious tenacity for inflicting their physical will on the opponent.

That tenacity does not materialize out of thin air, however. The training for Muay Thai is not for the feint of heart.

A typical training session can expect to include hundreds of kicks, knees, elbows, more kicks, clinch wrestling, more kicks, punching, pushups, some kicks against a heavy bag, more knees (until there is no skin left), and then some more kicks. All of this is, of course, conducted at the highest intensity possible. And, eventualy, this will all be put into practice against another human being who trains the same fashion.

The true reward for all of this is pain. Yes, that sounds strange, but bear with me. Upon entering into Muay Thai training, every muscle will hurt; every joint will feel swollen; every body part will ache. But after a few weeks, those aches and pains will give way to a level of conditioning that goes beyond simple “fitness” as most understand the term. A Muay Thai fighter understands the true difference between discomfort and pain and can operate beyond what most people dream of doing. They can dish out — as well as take — a tremendous amount of pain and continue to push forward.

That, ultimately, is what martial arts is truly about to begin with; the journey of self-discovery through the physical testing of one’s self. Whereas some arts get there by using more indirect means, Muay Thai wades into the middle of your life like a fighter crossing the ring and pounds its lessons into your head, torso, and legs. For the true combat athlete, this is where the individual truly finds out about themselves and what they are capable of.

We encourage you to give Muay Thai a shot at The Farm Bjj and find out what this art is all about. More importantly, find out what you are about.