How long does it take to learn Muay Thai
Updated: Apr 12
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Learning Muay Thai can be a lengthy process and you may at times feel like you've maybe stagnated in your training or you aren't making the progress that you'd wish, however you shouldn't worry, learning Muay Thai can take some time.
The reality is that you'll always have something to learn in Muay Thai, even after 30 years of training, however, after 15 years of consistent training, you can be considered a master at the same level as a BJJ blackbelt.
The speed that you'll be able to progress your Muay Thai skills does depend on the commitment that you show to the sport. If you are consistently missing classes, not listening to your trainers and only being half committed to your training then you'll likely progress slowly and never really get good at Muay Thai.
Understanding the basics of Muay Thai
Muay Thai training begins with the "Wai Kru" ritual, which is a series of movements that are performed to pay respect to one's trainer and ancestors. After the ritual, students learn the basic stances, footwork, and strikes, including the jab, cross, hook, uppercut, and knee strikes.
One of the most important aspects of Muay Thai is the clinch, which is when two fighters come together and engage in close combat. In the clinch, a fighter can use knee and elbow strikes, as well as sweeps and throws to take down their opponent.
Another crucial component of Muay Thai training is the conditioning of the body. Fighters must have excellent endurance, agility, and strength to compete at a high level. This involves various drills and exercises that target the legs, core, and upper body.
Muay Thai is a fascinating combat sport that requires both physical and mental toughness. It teaches self-defense, discipline, and respect. Whether you're a beginner or an experienced fighter, the basics of Muay Thai are essential to mastering this art.
The different ways I can learn Muay Thai
Online Training Courses
Over the past few years, the popularity of online Muay Thai training courses has grown and more and more fighters are publishing excellent, high quality training content that can help you learn Muay Thai.
If you are looking to progress at Muay Thai rapidly, then online training courses can be a great way to try and pick up new things in your spare time when you aren't in the gym, and also to give you tips and tricks that you can take into your training.
If you are looking to be serious at Muay Thai and you are looking to compete, then we don't recommend just using online training courses to train Muay Thai.
Muay Thai Gyms
Muay Thai gyms are the most common & effective way to learn Muay Thai. You'll be able to train with like minded peers and have a coach who should have plenty of experience that can help push you and further advance your skills.
If your looking to speed up your progress in learning Muay Thai then it may be worth speaking to your gym to ask if any of your coaches offer 1 to 1 coaching. This will allow you to receive dedicated training focused purely on yourself and your skills and you'll be able to learn much more in a sport space of time.
If you are looking to complete in Muay Thai then attending a Muay Thai gym is crucial, you'll need sparring partners, clinch partners and peers to push you during your training and a gym will offer this.
Be sure to do the necessary things research into your gym before you start training there. Unfortunately anyone can set-up a Muay Thai gym, but owning a gym doesn’t give you the credentials to teach Muay Thai. Make sure that the gym you plan to attend has the coaches required to help you progress, and not teach you incorrect techniques and bad practices.
Bag work in the gym
If you don't have a local Muay Thai gym but your gym has some heavy bags, then you can use these to learn Muay Thai.
The heavy bags can be a great way to improve your striking technique, power and also your footwork. The one problem that you do have with solely working on the bags is that you don't have anyone to seek advice from or to help you improve.
I personally use the bags to add additional training time and practice skills in which I am currently working on, in my spare time, or before and after a gym class.
How long does it take to get good at Muay Thai?
There are of course so many variables that play a part in how long it will take you to get good at Muay Thai, and what being "good" actually classes as, but we've put together a guide below which will help you understand how long it may take for the average person.
Learning the basics and understanding the fundamental techniques
The first step to getting good art Muay Thai is to learn the basics and to begin understanding the fundamental techniques, how to perform them and when they should be used, this will take take the average person 6 months.
During these first stages, you'll also be able to develop a good level of fitness and you should have started sparring to help you put the techniques you've been learning in the classes to practical use.
Ready for your first fight
You'll likely be ready for your first Muay Thai fight within 12 - 16 months of when you started training. This fight should be an amateur fight and will include Shin Guards and potentially a head-guard as well as larger gloves.
Before you take your first fight, you should have had several interclubs, and be able to attack and defend confidently, as well as being proficient in the clinch.
Fighting at a reasonable level
If you've been dedicated to your training you should be able to start fighting at a reasonable level within 4 years. You'll have likely had around 4-5 fights and through this you'll have developed some ring-craft skills and some good fighting experience.
Elite level fighter
To become an elite level fighter it will likely take you around 10 years. You'll have a high-level understanding of the sport, it's techniques and you'll have fought other, highly experienced fighters too.
You'll have likely fought for and won some Muay Thai titles and you may even have a Muay Thai world title in your trophy cabinet.
Tips on getting better at Muay Thai
Getting better at Muay Thai takes time, being the science of eight limbs, it offers various different techniques and many different strikes and movements that you need to familiarise yourself with and perfect. Below we've listed some of the things that have helped us get better at Muay Thai.
The most obvious thing that will help you advance your skills is to train often. The more that you train, the more knowledge you will gain and the more time you'll spend improving your technique.
From covering the basics of Muay Thai such as the jab or a roundhouse kick, to learning the more advanced techniques such as the clinch or elbows, they all require countless hours and repetitions and this can only be done by training often.
Every single time you train in a Muay Thai class, you'll likely pick something up new, or figure out something yourself that works better than how you have previously been doing it, this is why it is key that you spend as much time as possible training if you wish to learn Muay Thai quickly.
Have private sessions
As mentioned above, private session, or 1 - 1 coaching is a great way to learn Muay Thai and progress your skills rapidly. Having the full attention of the coach will mean that they will be able to teach you much more than they would if you were just attending classes.
Private sessions can be quite expensive, so you may have to limit how many you do, but if you are looking to compete then we highly recommend doing 1 - 1 sessions with a skilled coach to prepare you with the skills that you need to win.
Listen to your coaches
I've been to many gyms around the world, and every gym I go in there's always people who are stood chatting away rather than listening to the coaches.
If you are looking to attend a Muay Thai gym more for the social aspects then that is completely fine, however if you are looking to learn and progress in Muay Thai then you need to be listening to your coaches.
It's also a great idea to listen to your training partners in the class, not just your coaches. Although they may not be the person leading the class, they may have been training for many years and have a bunch of experience which they can help pass onto you.
Make sure you spar
Going to your first sparring session can be a daunting and you may be worried that you'll get hurt, or that you'll not enjoy it and it may put you off continuing in your training.
The first thing to remember is that the majority of the people who attend Muay Thai gyms are respectful. If sparring in Muay Thai for the first time be sure to voice your inexperience to your training partners and they'll likely spar at a level with less power to not hurt you, and to help you progress and become more comfortable when sparring.
Sparring is a key way to advance your techniques, and it will also help you to use some of the things that you've been working on in your classes and see how they work against an opponent.
Don't just turn up to your classes and not push yourself to learn more and train harder. You'll only be waisting your time and not getting the most out of the hours that you are putting in.
If you are doing fitness drills, push as hard as you can and give it your all. If your working on technique, push yourself to perfect it.
Learning to push through your breaking point is vital in a combat situation, so it’s best to practice going beyond your limits before someone starts hitting you back.
Keep your fitness levels high
If your fitness levels aren't high, it likely hood is that you'll never really improve your Muay Thai skills that you want them to be. Practicing Muay Thai requires a high level of fitness, and as your body becomes tired, your ability to soak in knowledge, and practice with the correct technique depletes.
Making sure you run regularly outside of the gym can be a great way to help raise your fitness levels and maintain a high level of performance.
Constantly working to improve your fitness can also be a great way to help improve your mental toughness, which is key if you are wanting to compete in. Muay Thai.
Ensure you keep up to your stretching
Stretching is an extremely important part to Muay Thai training, and without proper stretching you'll struggle to gain the flexibility to complete all the techniques such as head kicks. Stretching will also help to prevent muscle injuries.
Don't slack on your diet
Your body needs the correct fuel in order to maintain itself during the high intensity training of Muay Thai. Make sure that you eat a healthy, balanced diet to ensure your body is optimised for your training.
A poor diet will make it harder for you to increase your fitness levels, and also make you more prone to injuries whilst training.
Drink plenty of water
Water is a vital ingredient to help your body maintain a whole host of its functions, as well as regulating your temperature. It is recommended by health experts that you try to drink a half a gallon of water per day.
How to be good at Muay Thai
To be good at Muay Thai you need to train hard and train consistently. Make sure you find the right training partners and coaches to help you progress your skills and teach you the techniques required to be good at Muay Thai.
Someone who is good at Muay Thai will be able to perform all the techniques correctly and efficiently. They will be strong in the clinch, have a high level of fitness, understand the scoring criteria of Muay Thai and be able to spar at a high level.
How long should I wait until I fight Muay Thai?
The length that you should wait until you have your first Muay Thai fight depends on your level of dedication to the sport, and also how quickly you progress, however on average people tend to have their first Muay Thai fight within 16 months of training.
Why is Muay Thai so hard to learn?
The main reason that you may struggle to learn Muay Thai is simply due to the extensive range of techniques and skills which are made possible due to the martial art allowing punches, kicks, knees, elbows and the clinch.
Learning the basics of Muay Thai isn't difficult, however once you start sparring and training with people who have a wealth of experience you'll start to struggle against them due to the skills, tricks and techniques that they have.
As you can see on blackbeltwiki, there are so many different techniques which can be used in Muay Thai, and once you start thinking about the different ways in which you can throw them, and also how you can chain them together in combos, there are infinite options.
Another thing that you may find hard about learning Muay Thai is the physical demand that it takes on your body. Ensuring that you are in good physical condition and that you don't slack on your cardio will make the experience of learning Muay Thai much easier.
Should I travel to Thailand to learn Muay Thai?
If you are serious about learning Muay Thai, then you should travel to Thailand to train and learn.
Thailand is the home of Muay Thai, and it's the country that it originated in. Travelling to Thailand to learn Muay Thai will allow you to attend some of the best gyms for Muay Thai in the world, and train with the best coaches and the best fighters.
In recent years, gyms in Thailand have become extremely accommodating to foreigners and now offer various stay packages that include living accommodation and training expenses for extremely reasonable prices.
If you are thinking to travel to Thailand, some of the best gyms you can train at are Yokkao Training Centre in Bangkok, Sinbi Muay Thai in Phuket, Kiatmoo9 gym in Buriram and Petchyindee Kingdom in Bangkok.
Travelling to train in Thailand will also allow you to understand more about the culture of Muay Thai, which plays a huge part in the sport. You'll be able to learn more about the traditions, the titles and the main stadiums such as the Lumpini.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is there a belt grading system in Muay Thai?
No, there is not a belt grading system in Muay Thai. Although some western gyms may offer a belt grading system in Muay Thai, it is nothing but a money making scheme charging you in order to progress your belt colour.
Gyms in Thailand do not, and have never had a belt grading system and nor should any other Muay Thai gym. Muay Thai credentials are earned in the ring and belts should be fought for.
Can I get injured training Muay Thai?
Yes, you can get injured training Muay Thai. You can limit your risk to becoming injured by making sure that you prepare for your sessions properly, don't spar too hard and always ensure you maintain the correct technique.
How many days a week should I train to get good at Muay Thai?
We recommend attending at least 3-4 classes per week in order to get good at Muay Thai. Your classes should be a mix of pad work, technique and sparring.
If you are wanting to progress quicker, then you may want to add in an extra day, or maybe even train twice on your training days by adding in a heavy bag workout in the gym that is focused around perfecting your striking technique.
What are the most important techniques to learn in Muay Thai?
The most important techniques to learn in Muay Thai are the roundhouse kick, the teep (front kick), elbows and the clinch. If you become solid in these techniques then you can be classed as a good Muay Thai practitioner.
Do I need to be good at clinching before I have my first Muay Thai fight?
Although you don't need to be a clinch expert to have your first fight, you should be comfortable in the clinch, be able to defend against the clinch and also know various techniques to use in the clinch and escape from the clinch.
If you are a complete novice in the clinch then you may come up against an opponent who is stronger in the clinch and they'll be able to overpower you, and drain your energy in the clinch.
The biggest thing that fighters who don't train in the clinch suffer from in fights is that their energy can quickly be sapped in the clinch. It's extremely physically demanding and if you aren't used to it your muscles and energy system will quickly become depleted.
Learning Muay Thai is an ever evolving process, one that you'll never stop learning. However, after a years training you should have been able to build a good foundation for your Muay Thai skills.