There are many considerations to be taken into account when one decides to begin training in a new martial art. First, the potential student must ask him or herself: “what exactly am I looking to gain from my future training?” The martial arts world is vast. There are countless styles to choose from and each of them has different strengths and weaknesses. However, martial arts can most simply be broken down into 2 categories: striking arts and grappling arts. Striking arts teach one how to effectively strike using different parts of the body. Grappling arts teach students how to take their opponents to the ground, gain superior positions and apply submission holds. Grappling arts are excellent for both sport competition and self-defense but leave one vulnerable to attack while on the feet. Striking arts, on the other hand, teach one how to fight standing up, are excellent for competition as well, and can also be used in self-defense scenarios. The art of Muay Thai, translated from Thai as “Thai Kickboxing”, is perhaps the most complete striking art in existence and for this reason is an excellent choice for those looking for a new style to train in.
It is unfortunate that other than those already actively involved in the martial arts world, most people who seek out and choose a particular style to train in are unaware of its deficiencies. For example, a person might decide that they are interested in training in a striking art and choose a style of Karate or Kung Fu that has little to no contact without being aware that this will not prepare them for a real life violent encounter or a full contact fight in the ring. In such a situation their instructor and fellow students will certainly not tell them that this is the case and so they will believe, often for many years and even up to the point of achieving their black belt, that their style is effective for real combat. This belief can be dangerous, and perhaps even life threatening should they ever need to use their art to defend themselves against assault. Muay Thai Kickboxing however, is an art which is first and foremost a “live style”. This means that once technical proficiency has been achieved through the use of shadow boxing and pad work, sparring will be heavily stressed. It is unfortunately the case that most styles of striking, most schools and most martial arts for that matter, do not have live sparring or anything involving contact. Without the threat of being hit the martial artist can never truly learn to defend himself against a real strike. It is a simple matter of reaction time: if an object is not actually moving towards one so that it will actually hit them if they don’t move, then they will never actually learn to avoid it. Many martial arts neglect real sparring and instead simply have their students visualize an attack and make mid air movements to counter it. While shadow boxing certainly has its place in Muay Thai, the Thai Kickboxer knows that to be proficient he must spar and risk being hit in order to learn how to defend himself.
At Precision Mixed Martial Arts in the Hudson Valley, New York, our Muay Thai classes all involve both sparring and pad work so that students not only learn the fundamentals of striking but also how to acquire the reaction time to avoid strikes and actively strike back. In fact, our head Muay Thai instructor, Karl Nemeth, is himself an Amateur Hudson Valley Muay Thai champion with several knockout victories to his credit. Karl has learned Muay Thai from none other than renowned Muay Thai world champion Kaensak Sor Ploenjit and so the product he offers in his classes is one hundred percent legit. While all Precision students must first learn the proper fundamentals and take part in a good deal of pad work before they will be permitted to spar, once they have learned the basics, sparring will never be neglected. While wearing the proper protective equipment, Muay Thai students at Precision in the Hudson Valley learn to block, dodge and deflect all sorts of strikes while properly learning how to strike back using control so as not to injure their partners. They also learn live clinch work, such as how to get into the proper positions to land knees and elbows and also how to defend against them. Precision’s 16X16 foot ring is the perfect environment in which to train students for upcoming Muay Thai bouts, and many of our students have been victorious in local Hudson Valley kickboxing matches. If they were training in another art or at another school that did not train stress live sparring they most likely would not have found success in the ring.
Another factor making Muay Thai a complete striking art is that it encompasses many offensive and defensive tactics. Many martial arts only teach students to strike effectively with their fists or feet. This approach creates one-dimensional strikers who are less effective in combat. However, Muay Thai is often referred to as “the art of eight limbs” because it teaches students to strike proficiently with their fists, feet, knees and elbows. A Muay Thai kickboxer will learn attacks from all sorts of angles and using all sorts of surfaces. They will learn to kick to the legs, body and head with their shins as well as the heels and balls of their feet. They will also learn to strike with the front and back of the knuckles as well as the points and sides of their knees and elbows. They will even learn to condition different parts of their body such as their shins, something few arts teach. Many Thai Kickboxers are taught to fight from both a conventional and a southpaw stance, which is something that Precision’s instructor Karl Nemeth is himself particularly good at. Karl has used striking from both stances, as well as Muay Thai’s many flying and spinning attacks to confuse and defeat his opponents in local Hudson Valley fights. The object in Muay Thai is to always keep the opponent guessing, to create a rhythm or pattern of strikes and then suddenly break it. Muay Thai classes at Precision stress this concept while many schools fail to employ it properly.
In addition to teaching multiple different types of strikes, Muay Thai is also unique in its clinch work, an area that many striking styles neglect entirely. While many combat sports will separate the fighters when they get too close, Muay Thai allows participants to grapple on the feet utilizing knee and elbow strikes from close quarters. Our classes in Hudson Valley, New York teach authentic Muay Thai clinch work so that we know how to attack and defend from common standing clinch positions, such as the Thai plumb: a maneuver where the back of the opponents’ head is grabbed with both hands so that knee and elbow strikes can be unleashed. In fact, Muay Thai even allows combatants to trip or throw each other to the ground or sweep each other’s legs out in competition. This makes Poughkeepsie Muay Thai a truly complete martial art covering the kicking, punching, trapping and takedown ranges of combat.
Because of the wealth of techniques taught in Muay Thai it is effective in multiple settings. While it obviously works in kickboxing matches, it has also become the go-to striking style for mixed martial arts contests and it’s techniques are constantly employed by the some of the best fighters in the Ultimate Fighting Championship, such as Anderson Silva and Jose Aldo. The reason for its success at the highest stages of competition lies in its diversity. While boxing teaches a fighter how to strike with his fists, it does not teach kicks, knees, elbows, clinch work or takedowns. Often times, boxers have lost in mixed martial arts matches to Muay Thai fighters because of their inability to deal with leg kicks or knees. On the contrary, Muay Thai encompasses the same hand strikes as boxing but embellishes upon them by adding these other elements. Likewise, styles of striking such as taekwondo have fallen short because they are too kick oriented and neglect fisticuffs, something Muay Thai fighters never do. Also, Muay Thai’s clinch work and takedowns can be used to full effect in mixed martial arts, especially because of MMA’s unique gloves which allow for more varieties of grips. Finally, Muay Thai Kickboxing is one of the best striking styles one can learn to defend themselves in a real life violent encounter. If one is unfortunate enough to be jumped by a mugger or assailant, they cannot count on the attacker’s movements being predictable. They must prepare themselves for the possibility that any number of different types of strikes may be thrown at them or that they may be grabbed and forced into a standing clinch situation. Unlike many other striking styles, Muay Thai deals with all these scenarios equally so that the student will never be caught off guard.
As can be seen, Muay Thai Kickboxing is a complete striking art with many dimensions and which can have multiple uses. Whether you are interested in sport competition, self-defense or fitness, a competent Muay Thai program such as that offered by Precision MMA in the Hudson Valley should cover all your bases.
Want to train martial arts in the Hudson Valley? Check out Precision Mixed Martial Arts at http://www.bjjfighter.com. Make sure to ask about our 30-day FREE trial. Give us a call at 845-392-8495! Precision MMA is located in the Freedom Business Center at 1097 Route 55, Lagrangeville, NY 12540.
Jamey Bazes is a lifelong martial artist holding a brown belt in both Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and Kenpo Karate. He also holds a master’s degree from SUNY New Paltz. He is a student of Precision Mixed Martial Arts in LaGrange, NY (near Poughkeepsie) and a decorated competitor including a Delaware Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu State Championship and a NAGA World Title. To train Muay Thai with Jamey in Poughkeepsie NY check out Precision MMA http://www.poughkeepsiemixedmartialarts.com