Muay Thai, also known as Thai boxing, is a combat sport which originated in Thailand as part of the Muay Boran or martial arts tradition. Though largely limited to the Indochinese region for most of its history, Muay Thai gained prominence throughout the 20th century as its practitioners began defeating other martial artists from more popular and notable disciplines. An art that is more about skill than strength, anyone considering the practice of Muay Thai should learn more about its features and equipment before beginning.
Understand the 'Art'
To an outsider, martial arts seem to centre on fighting and combat. However, as their names indicate, there is far more to these practices than kicking and punching. In fact, Muay Thai, also known as the 'Art of Eight Limbs' requires its practitioners to engage not only their fists and feet, but also their elbows, knees, and even their shins. In this way, Muay Thai is very much a skill-based sport, and as many more advanced masters and teachers point out, it is not necessary to be in great physical shape when beginning Muay Thai training. By focusing on the skill and doing the work, fitness comes naturally. Fighting or sparring in Muay Thai is also optional. Many practitioners never go beyond using training pads and heavy punchbags.
Proper Muay Thai Gear Makes a Difference
Although overall fitness is not important, making sure to learn Muay Thai skills properly from the start is an important component in succeeding in this sport. Beginners need to find a reputable Muay Thai gym with teachers and students who welcome those just starting out. Buying proper fighting gear is also necessary. Quality Muay Thai gloves are especially important. Not only do they protect the hands, but they endure a lot of abuse through the process of training. Higher-priced gloves are generally of a higher quality, meaning they last longer and provide more thorough protection. Other protective gear options, such as Muay Thai shin guards, are equally important in the beginning, especially as your shins get used to the abuse of this sport and grow tougher over time.
Dress the Part to Feel Stronger and More Confident
Muay Thai fighters have a common dress code when in the ring. For men and women, this includes special unisex Muay Thai shorts. Muay Thai shorts are an important element of the sport not only because they allow for the fluidity of movement needed to execute many of the moves, but also because they are part of the overall tradition. Most Muay Thai shorts come from Thailand itself. As such, it is important to note the sizing differences between U.K. and Thai sizes before purchasing a pair of shorts. Another tip for newbies is that there is a tradition in the sport of Muay Thai regarding the colour pink. For males, wearing pink Muay Thai shorts is an honour, one that indicates they are ready and willing to spar in the ring and often win when they do.