Muay Thai is a comprehensive workout and martial art. Unlike other popular sports, such as boxing or kickboxing, or less popular martial arts like Taekwondo, Muay Thai allows the fighters to utilize hands, shins, knees and elbows for striking. Many other martial arts focus more on specific types of striking, such as boxing’s punches or Taekwondo’s kicks. Such limitations are a handicap to someone that only practices that one style. He or she must learn to defend ALL strikes. Because Muay Thai allows for such comprehensive strikes, the fighter is able to focus more on his or her grappling and general defense. The fighter that does not train in an art with such liberties in striking, however, must also learn to strike in new ways, defend such attacks and still work on everything else the Muay Thai-trained fighter must learn.
I have played many sports and partaken in a large variety of physical activities over the years, and none of them have come close to delivering the cardiovascular conditioning that muay Thai offers. Being both aerobic and anaerobic, muay Thai places huge stress on your cardiopulmonary systems. With continued practice, your body will adapt to the demands of the sport, and improved cardiovascular performance is one of the positive consequences.
Kicking and footwork play a large role in muay Thai. One movement that is distinctive to muay thai is the roundhouse kick. Learning how to kick strengthens the musculature of the lower body. Every muscle in your lower body will benefit from practicing the various kicks and footwork drills incorporated in the sport. From muscle endurance, force production, agility, to just plain old good looking calves, muay Thai delivers.
Core is not a word I like to use a lot. Generally when someone refers to their core, they’re referring to their abdominal muscles. Your core is every single muscle located on your trunk. The rotational nature of all of the movements in the sport truly does strengthen your core. Getting punched in the body will also help a little. Striking, defensive movements, and clenching will all help the muay Thai student develop a strong core.
It won’t happen overnight, but with time the kicking and kneeing movements of muay Thai promote increased hip mobility. Having healthy hips alone can save you from serious pain and numerous terrible medical conditions later in life. Just remember to do your foam rolling and stretching. Get an occasional massage and those hips of yours will feel amazing.
I personally think stress relief is the most important benefit muay Thai can provide. The majority of us accumulate a fair amount of stress during the day. Having an outlet for that stress feels fantastic and can work wonders for your mental and physical health. Let’s face it, when you’re pissed off at work or stressed about bills, hitting something just feels good. Due to the fast-paced nature of the sport, you can’t trouble yourself with worry while training. You’ll get hit in the face or mess up the drill you’re working on. Practicing a martial art allows you to focus on yourself and nothing else. I believe doing something regularly that detaches you from the daily grind helps you become a happier and more carefree individual.
I do Muay Thai because it is fun, it helps me learn to move, it gives me incentive to come to the gym, it helps me relieve stress, it gives me confidence in myself, it helps me walk tall, it gives me a reason to push through my other workouts (which I also enjoy most of the time).