Like all martial arts, Muay Thai can look intimidating for a newbie like you. After all, you are guaranteed to get hurt if you mess up your training routine from the get-go. And nobody likes that, right? So, how do you begin your Muay Thai journey and become a warrior — not a sandbag?
Muay Thai training for beginners is all about having a coach. Even with impressive muscles, you can seriously injure yourself with incorrect form, postures, and techniques. Training with coaches solves these problems. In addition, training without a teacher can be considered rogue-ish in Thai culture.
Of course, there is much more than that to Muay Thai training. So read on to learn how beginners should start this world-dominating martial art.
Is Muay Thai beginner friendly?
The answer is: it depends on your goal.
If you want to learn Muay Thai to exercise, lose weight, or protect yourself from street thugs, it is a beginner-friendly sport anyone could learn. Of course, with a teacher.
But if your goal is to turn pro and fight in a money-making match, then it might not be as beginner friendly as you think — even with a teacher. You need to understand that Muay Thai is a martial art — an art form that waltzes hand in hand with pain. A little misstep can cause you and your opponent life-long injuries or even death.
So, going pro will ask you to be physically and mentally ready.
Pro Muay Thai training requires strict discipline and massive willpower. Even when practicing with a sandbag, you must concentrate on your strength, precision, form, and technique.
All this is for you to pulverize your opponents while keeping them (and yourself) away from lethal blows in actual matches.
Besides, training Muay Thai has a cost. A proper teacher usually doesn’t come cheap, especially when you want to make a career out of it. An average coach can cost you around 1,000 to 2,000 baht per hour. So, expect an athlete maker to cost much more than that.
But of course, most of you reading this article wouldn’t have “going pro” in mind. So, you could say that Muay Thai is beginner friendly. And for those of you who dream of fighting as a career, good luck.
Do you need the experience to learn Muay Thai?
You can always start any martial art from scratch. There’s no need for prior combat knowledge or a muscle-building portfolio. All you need is the will to train your body (and probably a mind ready to get hurt).
After all, you can learn those tactical aspects of a fight and shape up your body as you train.
Besides, you might not need those fighting tactics in the first place. If you just want exercise, you can just keep moving, punching, and kicking. Then, you’re good to go.
Of course, this doesn’t mean prior martial art experience won’t help. If you have fought in a boxing ring before, learning Muay Thai will be an extension of your previous skill. It will equip you with new weapons and strategies.
What’s the best age to start Muay Thai?
Again, it depends on your goal.
If you want to learn Muay Thai as an exercise, then anywhere before 35 is usually doable (granted you don’t have a serious illness). Beyond that, you might need to be already in shape. Building muscles in your late 30s from scratch is going to be challenging.
However, if you want to turn pro, you might want to start in your early teens.
Turning yourself into a fighter during middle school might sound ridiculous. But it’s a common practice in Thailand.
Many local Muay Thai fighters started their career as they entered elementary schools. They strengthen their body and hone their skills as a kid. Basically, they’ve been destroying banana trees with their legs even before they can recite A-Z.
To compete with those people, you should start as soon as possible. Even though — as a Westerner — you have a better innate physique, your technique and experience can’t compare. And that can easily doom your career.
Of course, you can start later if you have boxed before.
But remember that Muay Thai is more brutal than your average boxing. Elbows, knees, and clenches are legal in Muay Thai rings. Learning to use those lethal weapons effectively takes practice, and your opponent will definitely use them.
Why should you train Muay Thai?
There are thousands of martial arts and sports you can master in this world. So why Muay Thai? What separates this regional fighting technique from the others
1. It’s more than an exercise
“Exercise” is the most common reason to learn Muay Thai.
Nowadays, Thai people see Muay Thai as another way to keep themselves fit — not the intimidating fighting style it used to be. And it makes sense.
Muay Thai keeps you in shape, stimulates your nerves, sharpens your mind, enhances reflexes, and builds discipline.
And most importantly, it’s fun.
A friendly fight is always exciting. In a spar, you work both your mind and body in search of a way to put what you learn into practice. And you can let yourself enjoy the thrill — unlike in a street fight where your life’s on the line.
But that is the benefit the locals are looking for. For you, a foreigner, you also get to learn Thai culture in the process.
Muay Thai is not all about fighting and training. It also involves Thai discipline, respect, spirituality, and history. After all, it is an old art form that has survived wars for hundreds of years.
2. You want to be more outgoing
Muay Thai forces you to interact with people.
You cannot train alone as a beginner. Even though you’re not sparring, you still interact with your coach to fight better.
Of course, you can do the same with other sports too. However, you’ll most likely interact with Thai people when you train in Muay Thai. And that’s a faster way you can make a local friend.
If you plan to stay in Thailand for a while, you don’t want to stand out as a tourist, right? You want to be a part of the community. So, training in Muay Thai helps you speedrun the process.
3. You want an effective tool to protect yourself
Muay Thai is a tried-and-true way to save yourself from a fight.
Keep in mind that Muay Thai is different from boxing. While boxing focuses on winning a fair fight, Muay Thai shines the most in life-threatening situations.
In the old days of the Thai warring period, Muay Thai was the last resort for any warrior to survive on a battlefield. It could give you a chance to run, or terminate the threat entirely.
Muay Thai has a nickname called “the art of 8 limbs.”
Not only can you attack and defend with your 2 arms and 2 legs, but also 2 elbows and 2 knees.
The additional weapons of Muay Thai are lethal. An elbow to the head is said to have an equal force of a sledgehammer. Basically, don’t eat it with your face. You will need a doctor after that.
So if you want to knock someone out before they could hurt you, a good elbow could do the job (granted you know how to use it).
How should you start learning Muay Thai?
1. Find a coach
This is arguably the most significant part of your training.
Your coach will find the best way for you to reach your goal. So, you don’t have to waste time trying everything out yourself.
As mentioned multiple times, your safety is paramount. Your coach will ensure you won’t injure yourself as you train. They can fix your sprain-inducing postures and provide you safety equipment as you start out.
And most importantly, Thai people see the self-taught Muay Thai fighters as rogues.
In local Muay Thai matches, younger fighters are often referred to with these formulas…
- [Name] + a student of [Teacher’s name]. Like Tae Sid Kam Ron (or Tae, a student of Kam Ron)
- [Name] + [Gym Name]. Like Tae Khongsittha (or Tae from Khong Sittha gym).
These introductions highlight the significance of the Muay Thai Teacher-student relationship. Your martial arts aren’t something you created but received from someone else. So, you are fighting with their reputation on the line.
This is why Muay Thai has a dance ritual called Wai Kru Muay Thai to show the student’s appreciation towards their teachers before each fight. A teacher is that important.
2. Focus on body strength first
While better techniques can bring you victory, strength is still the foundation of your fight.
Your masterful punching prowess is useless if you only have the strength to perform it once. And no matter how precise your strikes are, they won’t do anything without the strength to back up.
So, throw most of your initial effort into shaping up your body. And by shaping your body, it means shaping up to be a fighter, not a cyclist or a basketball player.
Each sport utilizes different muscles. A tennis player might need more arms than a sprint runner. So ask your coach which body part you should prioritize with Muay Thai.
If there’s one body part you might want to emphasize, it would be your leg. In Muay Thai, a low kick is a legal move. This means you WILL get kicked in the legs dozens of times. And it hurts a lot. So, ensure you know how to block and get used to it.
3. Never slack on your form
There are proper ways to practice. And, of course, there are horrible ways to practice too.
Punching practice isn’t only about throwing your fist at the target. It’s also about your arm line & shape, wrist position, and knuckle contact point. Make sure that you keep all these things in mind when you train.
These details make your attack stronger and more effective while preventing you from injuring yourself.
Performing punches in the wrong form can cause your shoulder to sprain or your wrist to break. The same goes for kicks, knees, and elbows.
Where can you train Muay Thai in Bangkok?
You can enter the scene in pretty much any Muay Thai gym across the country.
Most of them will teach you the same thing for beginners, including body-building routine, basic techniques, positioning, etc.
However, you might want to be specific when selecting your gym. For example, you might want a coach of the same sex as you. After all, men and women have different physiques. A male-focused gym might not be the best place for a lady (especially in a spar).
The following are 5 gyms that work well for beginners.
1. Bangkok Fight Lab (BFL)
When it comes to close-quarter-combat (CQC) training, BFL probably is the most influential in Thailand.
Not only does it teach Muay Thai, but also other martial arts like Jiu Jitsu. So if striker training does not suit you, you can switch to grappler anytime.
BFL provides both private and group lessons in a camp-like environment. They also customize their classes to match your personal goals too. However, the cost might vary because of that.
Needless to say, the coaches and teachers in the lab are all professional and experienced. They operate on an international standard. So, the courses may lean towards the serious side at times.
Nevertheless, it’s still promising for a complete beginner.
Check out more about Bangkok Fight Lab here.
2. Fitfac Academy
Fitfac is known for its variety.
They push the term “beginner-friendly” to the next level with their fitness-focus course for those looking for a new way to exercise.
And if you want to be a real fighter, Fitfac can also guide you with its technique-focus course.
Of course, all coaches and staff are professionals. They have years of experience in making fighters out of a newbie. Even a veteran can learn something from them through a spar session.
Check out more about Fitfac Academy here.
3. Yod Muay Thai Gym
If you’re a lady looking for a modern Muay Thai experience, Yod Muay Thai Gym is the place for you.
Since most of their trainees are women, you can feel right at home in this place. They offer various “fitness-focus” courses that work well with your diet routine.
The atmosphere is more light-hearted and newbie friendly than others. So, Yod Muay Thai Gym might be an ideal gateway for you to get into the Muay Thai scene.
Check out more about Yod Muay Thai Gym here.
4. Khongsittha Muay Thai
Looking for more traditional Muay Thai training? Khongsittha got you covered.
Their course is not only a training session but also an experience. You get to go to a camp like local athletes and hone your body and mind to master the art. This might sound too much for someone with zero experience, but they are friendly to all beginners.
Moreover, you can enjoy your resting time in a resort-like private room with delicious Thai food to accommodate.
Basically, you can consider the Khongsittha Muay Thai course a vacation trip to experience Muay Thai.
Check out more about Khongsittha Muay Thai here.
5. Rajadamnern Singha Muay Thai Academy (RSM)
Starting off as a Muay Thai stadium, RSM was a world-famous destination to enjoy quality boxing matches in Thailand.
This place offers both international boxing and Muay Thai classes. You can go with the general ones first to get the basics. Then, shift gear later to fight in Thai style.
They welcome people of all genders and ages. Even little middle school girls can try their hands out in this academy. So if you want to train as a family, this might be the place.
The professionalism of all coaches is through the roof. They still work as ring staff, so you can trust their expertise.
Check out more about Rajadamnern Singha Muay Thai Academy (RSM) here.
Muay Thai training for beginners: Start your journey with the right foot
Now, you should be ready to step into the Muay Thai industry. It doesn’t matter if you’re a beginner or not. What matters is that you prepare your mind.
Your teachers will shape you up. You only have to keep up with your strength while trying to hone your technique. And don’t forget to choose the gym that suits your style.
Finally, remember to enjoy yourself. Muay Thai is another sport, so having fun is only natural.
Like always, if you want to discover more about Thailand, stay guided with ThaiGuider. You might learn something you never knew about this unique country.
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