By Jody Carter
Do they stick to the recipe? The recipe for Muay Thai is very simple and has been perfected in Thailand over the course of centuries. The Thais are still clearly the most dominant and use the same approach to training across hundreds of camps all over the country. If it isn’t broke, don’t fix it. Most Thai camps, and even famous fighters, will post their regimen online. If you look them up you will notice that they are sequentially very similar. Here is link to an example from a Thai boxing camp in Bangkok: http://www.eminentgym.com/training
Do they teach the Teep? The teep is also referred to as a push kick and is the jab amongst kicks. A boxer without a jab is unthinkable, likewise a Thai boxer without a teep. Most, if not all, top Muay Thai fighters throw the teep more than any other strike. For some reason, many who teach the art outside of Thailand don't teach it, which mind blowing.
Do they teach all Ranges? A legitimate Muay Thai gym teaches all 8 points of striking - kicks, punches, knees, and elbow and across every range and how to work through these ranges. This is done by using all the tools of the gym in the correct context. In Thailand, most camps have a variety of pad holders that have strength in teaching and training different ranges. In the West, one can’t have the expectation that there is going to be highly specialized trainers in specific ranges. One should expect the ranges to be trained in sequence. Close-to-far and far-to-close.
Do they teach how to spar safely: The Thais don’t Spar hard! Let me say it again….The Thais do not spar hard. They spar for the balance of the craft. This means that understanding the balance is everything. That doesn’t mean that sparring partners have to knock each other’s heads off. This is why westerners who teach authentic Muay Thai often refer to this proper type of sparring as "Thai sparring." Western boxers are notorious for gut wrenching sparring sessions. Often times you will see Thais laughing and joking while they spar and having fun with the game. This is really where the nature of “style” comes from. The play of Muay thai is what develops a person’s style. It’s more like American kids playing baseball and a neighborhood game of football. The reason for this is based in the fight culture of Thailand, which means that not all fights are created equally.
Do they teach the many aspects of the clinch? Specifically ensure the camp teach the closest range, which is the clinch. While elbows and knees are thrown just outside of the clinch range, which is also just inside the clinch range, both types of devastating striking are delivered from grappling within the clinch.
Can they explain the mechanics or the physics of the craft of Muay Thai? Often the “art,” as understood by most westerners, is an interpretation of a style. Then, they base explanations on that interpretation. That isn’t the craft of Muay thai, but the style. Most Muay thai movements in their physics are no different than any other athletic movements. The problem with many instructors is that that their explanations are based on a “style,” not the fundamental principles of the form and physics of the strikes
Generic tip for choosing any martial arts school, whether it be Muay Thai, Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, or MMA:
Beginner Friendly: While many camps in Thailand focus on training fighters who compete for a living, most Orange County residents are looking to train for fun or compete in conjunction with work or school. Therefore it is important to find a gym which not only provides friendly, quality instruction which builds you from the ground-up, but also caters to your direct goals whether is be fitness, self-defense, or just having fun.