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The 5 different styles of Muay Thai

Ever wonder why you can't beat that one person in your gym? Or are you wondering why fighter A does so well against fighter B but not against fighter C? From my years of sparring, of winning some (most) and losing some (not that many ), I can confidently say that 's due to everyone having different fight styles. Basically a game of rock-paper-scissors.


Today, we will be breaking down the different fight styles and famous fighters of those said styles.




Muay Mat


Muay Mats are known to be heavy punchers and are generally very good in boxing. Fun fact: many fighters in this style delve into professional boxing after they finish their careers in Muay Thai. Their style is to hunt for the knockout by delivering strong and fast shots. However, because they are attack-centric, this means that Muay Mats are susceptible to getting hit more frequently. This means that a knockout has a higher chance of happening to BOTH fighters. Muay Mats are usually disadvantaged in longer fights as they focus on aggression rather than timing and style. Their main weapons would be their punches and low kicks.


Pros:

- Heavy punches with good knockout power

- Exciting matches to watch

- Usually they have a good chin to complement their aggressiveness


Cons:

- Can easily get knocked if not careful

- Will have to take many blows

- Does not fair well if the fight goes the distance


Notable fighters:

- Rodtang Jitmuangnon

- Kulabdam

- Sagat Petchyindee

- Anuwat Kaewsamrit




Muay Femur


Muay Femurs are Muay Thai's quintessential fighter. They are what most people think when you think of the best Muay Thai fighters in the world. They are graceful yet sharp. Fluid yet hard. They focus on fight IQ and land creative counters to win fights. They do not chase fights, but rather, force their opponent to play to their own tempo, and overwhelm them when they least expect it. In essence, they are the perfect counter fighters. Watching them fight is a learning journey. You'll see them bait their opponent, and out of nowhere, land those clean shots. Personally, this is my favourite fighting style as it shows that you can still be classy while trying to take someone's head off. They are known to not specialise in any one technique - they're the Jack-of-all-trades for Muay Thai.


Pros:

- Style helps conserve energy so fighter can go on for longer

- Less prone to getting hit

- Easier for them to break someones' pattern and swoop in with good hits


Cons:

- Fight style can look too defensive

- Need to be able to adapt well against knee fighters

- Have to be confident in picking which shot to take


Notable fighters

- Sam-A

- Saenchai

- Nong-O

- Samart Payakaroon

- Somluck Khamsing




Muay Tae


These fighters are one of the scariest ones to face. They are the ones who train hard to ensure that they are the best in their 'special technique' - hard kicks. In range? Kick. Out of range? Teep. Close range? LOW KICK. These fighters are exceptional at distancing and they use it to rain kicks on their opponents. It's definitely hard to fight against someone who is a Muay Tae, since a kick to the body can break ribs, and the result of thigh shots will last for weeks. Remember Adesanya vs Costa? But, all this power and speed in their kicks take years of practice and hard work.


Pros:

- Good distancing

- It only takes one shot for an opponent to feel wounded

- Makes opponents a lot more wary to come in range

- Good balance


Cons:

- Hard to fight against clinch fighters who like closing the distance

- Back-footed and more susceptible to punches

- More defensive than offensive most of the time

Notable fighters

- Buakaw Banchamek

- Singdam Kiatmoo9

- Petchdam Petchyindee

-Yodsanklai Fairtex




Muay Bouk


The ultimate 'stand and bang' type of fighter. Muay Bouk are aggressive fighters who constantly put a lot of pressure on their opponent and always move forward. Just like a Muay Mat, they are extremely durable and deal out punishment at the same time as they receive it. But, they differ from the Muay Mat as they do not solely rely on punches and low kicks, but rather, with whatever suits them in the moment. Also, instead of counter fighting, they try to pressure their opponents so much so that their opponent makes mistakes, which they would capitalise on. This makes the Muay Bouk an exciting fighter to watch and cheer for.


Pros:

- Utilises all the weapons of Muay Thai very effectively

- Usually has a large gas tank to complement fight style

- Knocking out opponent has a higher probability of happening

- Very fun to watch


Cons:

- Just like the Muay Mat, they have a higher chance of being knocked out

- Muay Bouks need to have a large gas tank to sustain the high amount of output

- If the opponent can prevent the Muay Bouk from moving forward, then Muay Bouks tend to lose their edge


Notable Fighters:

- Nicky Holzken

- Liam Harrison

- Sangtiennoi

- Pornsanae Sitmonchai




Muay Khao


These fighters are incredibly scary to face. Instead of relying on punches and kicks (long-range attacks), they focus on fighting in the clinch, meaning you can expect many elbows and knees to come flying at you. This style is supported by punches and kicks to help with getting into the clinch. Once in, they will try to deal as much damage as possible while at the same time tiring you out. Being good in the clinch means that their balance has to be amazing and they must be used to getting hit in the clinch as well. Not only that, because clinching takes a lot of practice and energy, it usually means that Muay Khaos have a ridiculous amount of stamina that helps them push to the end (think Captain America in Endgame).


Pros:

- Tires opponents down by hunting for the clinch

- Elbows and knees are the main form of their attacks, which are more lethal than punches and kicks

- Tripping in the clinch scores a lot of points


Cons:

- May be slower to watch as a lot of grappling takes place

- Does not do as well against evasive fighters

- Gas tank must be large if not will fail

- Does not do too well when out of clinch range


Notable fighters:

- Dieselnoi Chor Thanasukarn

- Petchboonchu FA group

- Petchmorakot Petchyindee academy

- Sagetdao Petpayathai





Finding your style


Now that we've explored quite a few style, your question right now is probably about what your own style is? It really depends on what you prefer and what you are naturally inclined towards. For people who have a thinner build and are tall, I would always suggest trying to be a Muay Khao due to the natural advantage in the clinch and the sharper knees they would have. People who have come from boxing or are naturally very front-footed should always try Muay Mat or Muay Bouk styles to match the aggressiveness. Finally, those who feel pretty confident in all techniques should try out the Muay Femur style. Don't worry if you don't fit into one style perfectly - many people are a mish-mash of multiple styles!


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