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Should you learn Muay Thai for MMA?

Should you learn Muay Thai for MMA?

One thing we often get asked by MMA fighters is, should you learn Muay Thai for MMA? The answer that we always give is YES! Muay Thai is one of the most complete and effective striking martial arts there is, and will only benefit your MMA skill set.

Muay Thai plays a key role in MMA striking due to the fact that that it allows you to use punches, kicks, knees and elbows as well as the clinch. All of these are vital things to learn to be able to strike effectively in MMA.

Muay Thai is also a martial art which focus heavily on speed, power and balance - which are all very important in MMA. If you are an MMA fighter who is looking to end fights then Muay Thai is the perfect striking martial art for you.

What is Muay Thai?

“Muay” translates to mean “boxing” in Thai, so Muay Thai is literally Thai boxing. Taking elements from Muay Boran, the traditional Thai martial arts, Muay Thai as a modern combat sport was first formalized in the early 20th century. The sport was influenced by British boxing where codified rules and the boxing ring were put in place. During this period, fighters also ditched wrapping hands with ropes (“Kard Chuek”) and began wearing boxing gloves in competitions.

Muay Thai is a stand-up striking sport, with two competitors in the ring throwing punches, elbows, knees and kicks at each other. Clinching, sweeps and throws are also allowed. Besides the 8-point contact, a key difference between Muay Thai and many other stand-up combat sports is its emphasis on traditional elements such as the pre-fight dance ritual known as Wai Kru Ram Muay, the head dress (Mongkon) and the Sarama music that accompanies each fight.

The history of Muay Thai can be traced historically to the Sukhothai dynasty of Thailand around the 13th century. As recorded in Thai history, the first Thai army was born out of a need to defend the kingdom and soldiers were taught both armed and unarmed combat. Over time, the evolution of this martial art gave us Muay Boran and Muay Thai as we know it today.

Due to wars with neighboring kingdoms and tribes over the centuries, Muay Thai became a way of life for the people of Siam (as Thailand used to be called). One of the most famous stories of Muay Thai came via the great Nai Khanom Tom, during the Ayutthaya period. The tale narrates how Nai Khanom Tom defeated 9 Burmese fighters, one after another, during his imprisonment after the Siam kingdom was under siege. The historical event (half steeped in myth) is now celebrated as Muay Thai day which takes place every year on March 17th.

Reasons to learn Muay Thai for MMA

Muay Thai is one of the most effective martial arts

Muay Thai is known as one of the most effective martial arts due to it's variety of striking as well as the fact that it's effective in all ranges of striking.

In Muay Thai you can use your hands, legs, knees and elbows as well as grappling stood up - which is a major bonus when translating a striking martial art over to MMA as it also uses all these aspects.

As Muay Thai comes from a combat system designed to be used by soldiers it is proven to be competent in real-life situations for hundreds of years. Know that when learning Muay Thai you will have all the necessary self-defense skills to protect you or people you care about in every situation.

Learning the Thai clinch can be a great advantage in MMA

One of the main aspects of Muay Thai is the Thai clinch. Clinching is a form of grappling in Muay Thai where you hold your opponents neck to launch your attacks, mainly knees and elbows.

Clinching requires the fight to take place in close quarters, and it's an extremely technical and grueling position to be in, that if you haven't trained adequately in, you'll begin to feel the energy and strength sap from your shoulders.

Clinching is something that takes place often in MMA fights as fighters look to get a takedown from the clinch. The Thai clinch can teach MMA fighters to strike effectively from the clinch to hurt their opponent, as well as effective trips and sweeps to get the fight to the ground.

Elbows can be incredibly effective in grappling situations

When in close grappling situations which happen often in MMA, it can be hard to generate enough power in your strikes to hurt your opponent. Elbows allow you to do this.

Elbows are extremely effective in close combat and they allow you to generate a high amount of power, as well as a high chance of cutting your opponent if they land cleanly.

You'll learn how to defend against all forms of striking

Being able to defend effectively is a major part of Muay Thai, and by doing Muay That you'll quickly learn how to defend against all forms of striking.

This will be a huge advantage in MMA as you'll be able to protect yourself against many varied opponents.

MMA fighters who do Muay Thai

Due to it's rise in popularity by it's shown effectiveness, Muay Thai is now practiced by most MMA fighters, however we have put a list together of some of the most effective Muay Thai strikers in MMA.

  • Jose Aldo

  • Jon Jones

  • Edson Barboza

  • Joanna Jedrzejczyk

  • Jorge Masvidal

  • Douglas Lima

  • Valentina Shevchenko

Is Muay Thai hard to learn?

Muay Thai is hard to learn due to the range of strikes and movements that you'll need to learn. There are endless possibilities in Muay Thai which means that it's a striking martial art in which you are always learning and improving.

We recommend 6-8 months of solid Muay Thai training as good barometer to be able to build a solid, basic Muay Thai skillset.


If your an MMA fighter who is looking to expand on their skill set and improve their striking game then Muay Thai is the martial art for you.

By learning Muay Thai you'll not only improve your defensive capabilities but also your offensive and you'll become a much more complete fighter.

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