Is Muay Thai Good for Self-Defense? (Street Fight)

Is Muay Thai Good for Self-Defense? (Street Fight)

In life, you’ll probably find yourself in a situation where you’ll have to defend yourself. Knowing any king of combar sport or martial arts will sure help you with that. For a street fight, where there are no rules, it is very important to be able to quickly get rid of attacker and escape. So, how useful is knowledge of Muay Thai for that?

Muay Thai is extremely good for self-defense in a street fight. Knowing how to throw a quick combination is very useful. Muay Thai teaches you how to throw punches and kicks, as well as how to strike with knees and elbows. That will sure help you with defending yourself.

In life, you’ll probably find yourself in a situation where you’ll have to fight your way out of a problem. Although combat sports and martial arts teach you that you have to avoid real-life physical confrontations, sometimes it’s just not possible or it’s extremely unsafe to do so.

In such situations, it is better that you know how to defend yourself than anything else. Although all combat sports and martial arts offer some kind of self-defence programme, some are better than others. But street fights won’t stop at self-defence as they are going to demand a lot more from you, so it’s good to have a balanced approach. Muay Thai is good in that aspect, as we are going to see in the paragraphs below. 

General Benefits of Muay Thai

Before we start with the question in the title, we are going to list some of the general benefits of doing Muay Thai, regardless of your ultimate goal with the combat sport:

  1. The benefits of physical activity – any physical activity is highly recommended and Muay Thai is an art that demands a lot from you, but also gives you a lot of benefits. You’ll be healthier, more mobile and will generally look and feel better.
  2. Socialisation – although Muay Thai is an individual sport, training sessions, going to the gym and sparring sessions all require close social contact and can, perhaps, lead to the formation of a strong friendship or relationship with someone. Just remember how Rocky Balboa, the main character of Stallone’s cult franchise, had a close relationship with his coach.
  3. Discipline – Muay Thai is a martial art that requires a lot of determination and is very demanding. Not everyone can do Muay Thai the way should be done and if a person does not have the required discipline, he may quit. Luckily, Muay Thai does build one’s discipline so it can be beneficial in that aspect likewise.
  4. Learning your limits – since Muay Thai is a martial art that requires a lot of discipline, it teaches the boxers to control themselves. You do not fight to kill someone; you fight to win and there are certain limits you’ll have to adhere to in order to be a good boxer.
  5. Self-defence – people who take on Muay Thai while learning how to attack, also learn how to defend themselves. Although you should always avoid confrontations when possible, life sometimes doesn’t allow you to escape or avoid a conflict. In such situations, it is better to know how to defend yourself than not.
  6. Building confidence – while teaching you how to attack, how to defend and how to win, Muay Thai builds on your confidence. It allows you to create a better, a much stronger image of yourself and the confidence you have in the ring, during a fight, will emanate to all other aspects of life.
  7. New knowledge – Muay Thai is not just punching, it is a very sophisticated martial art where tactics usually play a much bigger part in winning, than just pure physique. Learning new tactics and tactical approaches doesn’t just increase your knowledge, it stimulates your brain as the adrenaline of a fight demands for a quick response.
  8. You’ll feel younger – this one is more for our older readers, as the physical and health benefits of Muay Thai will, undoubtedly, result in your body, and with it your mind, feeling younger. The mere fact that you can hold out and win a fight against someone who’s probably younger than you will be a boost so strong that you’ll probably feel at least 10 years younger.
  9. You’ll grow as a person – each new experience is special and enables you to develop yourself as a human being. Muay Thai has a lot of different aspects and approaches, and learning (about) them will certainly enable you to grow as a person.

Now that we’ve gone through some basic elements, let us see how Muay Thai helps your offence and defence. 

Muay Thai and Offence

Muay Thai’s offence is based on utilising four parts of your body – the elbows, the knees, the fists and the legs. Let us see how each of them functions:

  1. Elbow shots are very important in Muay Thai. Muay Thai has a lot of very elegant and effective elbow strikes that you won’t find in any other martial art, which means that Muay Thai’s elbow tactics have a lot of benefits for the fighters. This is where Muay Thai can help you overcome the difficulties and become even better. 
  2. Muay Thai is very practical and beneficial when it comes to knee techniques, better than most other combat sports (except maybe kickboxing, but kickboxing stems from Muay Thai). Why is that? The knee is an essential weapon in Muay That; the fighters approach the fight with a number of different types of knee shots thrown from the leading leg or back leg. You can fire a leading leg knee shot from a stance or incorporate knee strikes from the clinch. 
  3. Although Muay Thai is actually ‘Thai boxing’, punches are very underused in this martial art simply because they are scored less than successful kicks; the goal is to win, so the fighters chose shots that can give them more points. Muay Thai fighters will stand firmly in front of each other and trade shots, be they punches or kicks. Muay Thai boxers tend to “gather” shots and block them, waiting for their turn to fully explode with a good counterattack.
  4. Muay Thai is a martial art where kicks are essential. In fact, they are so essential that one could say that Muay Thai completely depends on kicking. As such, Muay Thai emphasizes the usage of kicks in a fight. Common kicks are the body kick and the leg kick. Teeps (the push kicks from front or rear legs with the foot in a vertical position) are also heavily utilized as are side teeps (teeps where you step aside and push out with your body in a horizontal side stance). Head kicks are also thrown, although not as much as in some other Oriental martial arts. You typically don’t see much variation beyond the Thai round kick. 

Muay Thai and Defence

The defence in Muay Thai is based on block as retreating is generally frowned upon and considered as being against the spirit of the art. Also, since there are no ground moves in Muay Thai, there are no ground techniques when it comes to defence. Some of the basic defensive tactics in Muay Thai are:

  • Blocking with shins
  • Leaning back from kicks
  • Block with high guard
  • Clinch when in range and stop strikes

Conclusion: Is Muay Thai Useful for Self-Defense?

As for self-defence, we have to say that Muay Thai has a more balanced approach than most other combat sports and a more complete one as well. Namely, Muay Thai utilises all extremities, meaning that the disadvantages other sports and arts have when legs are concerned are annulled in Muay Thai, which relies mostly on legwork, while – at the same time – using punches.

Muay Thai is also specific because it requires patience, meaning that it will teach you endurance, which can be essential when defending yourself. Muay Thai focuses on waiting for the right moment to attack and that can prove to be essential in a tight spot.

To conclude, Muay Thai will certainly help you with self-defence, but the fact is that its overly specific approach to fighting might influence your techniques and your approach to a real-life threat.

Thus, some other sports and arts (such as boxing, for example) might be better if you want to learn the basics of self-defence and practice it short-term, but if you have any long-term goals and wish to improve on what you have already learned, there is absolutely no doubt that Muay Thai is a good choice for you. 

This covers the essential elements of Muay Thai. You’ve seen how it functions, what it focuses on and how its offence and defence work. We hope we’ve helped you and that you now know whether and how Muay Thai could be helpful in a potential street fight.

Also, be sure to check out our article about how Muay Thai compares to other martial arts when it comes to self-defense.

Follow us for more of the same and we hope we’ll see you back very soon. Until next time!

Vladimir Vladisavljevic has been training in the art of kickboxing for over seven years, holds a Taekwondo black belt, and has a master's degree in sports and physical education. He's also a huge mixed martial arts fan. He's a big deal in Bulgaria as a mixed martial arts commentator, analyst, and podcaster.
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Vladimir Vladisavljevic

Vladimir Vladisavljevic has a master's degree in sports and physical education. He has been training in kickboxing for over seven years and holds a Taekwondo black belt. He's also a huge mixed martial arts fan. Vladimir is a big deal in Bulgaria as a mixed martial arts commentator, analyst, and podcaster. He was known as The Bulgarian Cowboy in the Western world. In addition, he has a YouTube channel where he talks about his love of esports, one of the fastest-growing fields in the world. Our testing and reviewing method.
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