Muay Thai For Beginners: Everything You Need To Know

I bet many of you have idols among Muay Thai fighters, especially if you train Muay Thai and expect to take part in a competition one day. The ancient Siamese martial art is a bit harder to learn but when you master it, you’ll be able to defend like a professional.

Muay Thai technique is tricky and a bit unusual, it is the “Science of Eight Limbs” for a reason. You will learn knees, kicks, elbow strikes, and punches in Muay Thai training. This article describes the efficiency of Thai boxing for beginners, plus it introduces you to some basic facts about one of the oldest martial arts on the planet Earth.

Basic Information About Muay Thai

What Is Muay Thai? (A Brief History)

Muay Thai is a stand-up martial art, a popular “Science of Eight Limbs”, where you can defeat your opponent with elbows, knees, punches, or kicks. It is different than other fighting styles because of the traditional Wai Kru ritual before you enter the ring.

You can trace it back to the 13th century, to the era of the Sukhothai dynasty of Thailand. The first Thai army was created to defend the homeland, but as time went by, their skills evolved into the popular Muay Thai and other Thai fighting styles.

Thai boxe became the way of life for the Siam people. There are many legendary stories, and one of them talks about the great Nai Khanom Tom, the legendary warrior who defeated 9 Burmese opponents during the siege of the Thai Kingdom.

Muay Thai officially became the national sport of Thailand during the Rattanakosin Kingdom era (around the 18th-early 20th century). It brought the first sport’s rules and regulations, and later it evolved into one of the most popular fighting styles on the planet.

Is Muay Thai Training For Everyone?

Should I visit the Muay Thai class if I’m fat and slow? Man, so many people asked me that question, and I am saying – forget about self-criticism. Yes, training Muay Thai is for everyone, it is one of the greatest self defense martial arts all around the globe.

Everybody can train Muay Thai, from a 5-year-old kid to a 70-year-old guy who has never taken part in a fight. The question is – what are your goals? What would you like to achieve with Muay Thai training? I’m telling you – stay realistic and you’ll enjoy your Muay Thai journey!

Is Muay Thai Good For Beginners?

Yes, of course. As soon as you learn the Muay Thai stance in your first Muay Thai class, the coach will help you with striking techniques. Your stamina will grow and you’ll get way more self-confidence.

Muay Thai practitioners change their moods quickly. If you came as a depressed obese guy, I bet you will change the way to view the world in the first few months of the Muay Thai game. When you watch all those skinny guys marching forward and eating shots, it affects you mentally and turns you into a warrior!

Is Muay Thai Hard For Beginners?

Even putting Muay Thai gloves on can be difficult for beginners. I mean, of course, it is hard, these are movements you have never done before. Thai stance is pretty much unorthodox, there will be many segments you have never seen before in Muay Thai classes.

If you don’t have a striking background, you might feel like you need ages to master Muay Thai basics, but please, don’t despair! Muay Thai workouts will destroy your brain in the first two or three months, but you’ll adjust as time goes by!

When you come from other martial arts, it depends. A fighter who comes from Brazilian jiu jitsu or other martial arts that favor grappling might have a hard time, there is no positive transfer.

On the other hand, a kickboxer or a Karate fighter is going to have a hard time with Muay Thai stance and some tiny things, but he’ll progress way faster.

Some fighters prefer elbows and knees, especially if they transitioned to Thai boxing from mixed martial arts or Lethwei. Yet, they might have a hard time with Muay Thai body movement and rhythm, it is so different and unorthodox!

The fastest progress happens when a fighter comes from Muay Boran, as there is a very small difference between this great martial art and Thai boxing. I mean, Muay Thai is a sports discipline with a stricter rule set, but these fighters come with a Muay Thai stanza and tons of very similar moves. 🙂

Is Muay Thai Dangerous?

Yes, it is. Knee strikes could harm you badly, and don’t forget about the power of a vicious body kick. Even light sparring session might hurt you, you should be cautious in the first few months of training Muay Thai.

The most important thing is to learn to protect yourself in Muay Thai sparring. Don’t throw hard bombs right off the bat, control your moves, and don’t expect big results instantly. Muay Thai fighters have to be aware of their limits. Don’t go too far in the first few Muay Thai lessons, progress gradually!

What Are The Benefits of Muay Thai?

There are tons of them, I could write about them all day long. But I will focus on the top benefits of the ancient Siamese martial art:

  • Thai training improves posture and helps you with spine issues.

  • It improves your physical look and helps you lose some weight.

  • Muay Thai boosts your self-esteem.

  • “The Science of Eight Limbs” leads to better heart and blood circulation.

  • There’s a positive effect on your mental health.

  • It helps you change your personality and makes you more resistant to everyday stress.

  • Muay Thai training routine helps you defend yourself if you’re attacked in the streets.

Basic Muay Thai Techniques

  • Punches

Well, it’s time to return to boxing stance and learn Muay Thai basic techniques of punching – jab, straight, leading hook, rear hook, leading uppercut, and rear uppercut.

All other punching techniques are for advanced Muay Thai practitioners, not basic punches. Fighters with western boxing backgrounds have already mastered this aspect of the game.

  • Elbows

There are only four Muay Thai elbows recommended for beginners – horizontal/hook elbow (Sok Tad/Sok Tat), uppercut elbow (Sok Ngat), elbow chop (Sok Sub), and Muay Thai horizontal elbow (Sok Chiang).

  • Knees

There are tons of brutal Muay Thai knees, as the knee is a trademark of the ancient Siamese martial artists. Yet, I will have to focus here on three basic moves for beginners – straight knees (Khao Trong), diagonal knees (Khao Chiang), and horizontal knees (Khao Tat). A small knee strike is good for Muay Thai clinch, but it takes some time to master.

  • Kicks

Beginners should learn an inside and outside low kick (basic leg kicks), a push kick, and variations of body kicks.

  • Defensive Techniques

Beginners cannot eat a strike to land a strike. Yet, they can try blocking, for example, a middle kick, and then firing back with a big hook or straight in their sparring sessions.

  • Foot Positioning

Step with your weaker leg 40-50 cm forward, and point your lead foot forward. The foot of your stronger leg is at 65-to-85 degree angle to your lead leg, knees slightly bent for better movement and footwork.

Shift the weight to your rear leg, keeping your front foot on its balls for greater balance and movement.

  • Arm, Elbow, Hand, And Head Positioning

Raise your arms until the center of your fists is lined with your eyebrows. If you like to catch kicks in the training session, your fists can go higher.

Pull your elbows close to the body but do not touch your ribs. Make sure to arch your back outwards. It will turn you into a smaller target when you start sparring.

  • Diversify Your Strikes

Don’t stick to one of the strikes you’ve learned when you start training. You mastered a jab, so what? A smart fighter has tons of options to intercept a single strike.

Stay fluid and diversify your moves. It is hard to catch you with a counter when your moves are hard to anticipate.

  • Throw Combinations

One big strike works well for counter specialists, but if you’ve just started Muay Thai, you are a beginner. You don’t have a fighting style yet, so try to connect basic techniques. For example, the jab-straight-low kick works well for every single Muay Thai fighter.

Try to stay away from a head kick finish unless you come from Taekwondo, Karate, or kickboxing in the first Muay Thai class.

  • DO NOT Criss-Cross Your Feet.

This is the worst mistake one can make. Criss-crossing your feet leads to a lack of balance and massive vulnerability to leg strikes.

It will significantly decrease your Muay Thai skills in the later stages of your career, so please, fix this mistake early on.


Don’t try to learn a high kick or a spinning back elbow in your first session. Please, don’t fall into a depression if you can’t beat better fighters. It’s all part of the game.

You cannot be ready for a Muay Thai fight after a month or two. When you buy the best Muay Thai shorts, it will not turn you into a fighter. You can’t expect to smash Muay Thai pads after three or four weeks in the dojo, that’s not the way it goes.

Gradual progress and patience is a virtue. Visit your Muay Thai gym every single day and improve your skills, and accept positive criticism.

How to Start Learning Muay Thai

I have one golden rule in life – you must help yourself if you expect to get some help from others. Did you decide to start learning Thai fighting discipline? Excellent, that is a step in the right direction, you decided to become a Nak Muay!

Yet, shadow boxing will not turn you into a champion! There are many aspects of the game to work on, and I will try to let you know about all of them.

Build Your Cardio

This might be a big problem in the early stages of your career. Even light bag work could drain your cardio and turn you into a sitting duck.

If you wanna move like Muhammad Ali, you will have to build your cardio first. Run, visit your training session regularly, and stick to interval pieces of training too. Your body needs some time to get used to a new routine.

Build Your Strength

Lifting weights is beneficial, but there is a trick. Please don’t go for 8-12 repetitions and 60-120 seconds of rest between the sets. You don’t want to work on your hypertrophy, Muay Thai has weight classes.

You can boost endurance or punch/kick power. All other gym sessions are pointless. Take a look at the greatest Thai warriors, they don’t look like bodybuilders!

Invest In Good Equipment

Buy a good set of hand wraps and Muay Thai gloves in the first place. It will keep your hands safe during heavy bag training.

When you transition to a training partner, take care of a mouthpiece, shin guards, and maybe ankle pads. Good protection leads to a long-lasting career.

Fuel Your Body With the Right Type of Food

You can’t eat sweets and simple sugars and be the best, it simply doesn’t go that way. Fuel your body with fruit, vegetables, lean meat, wholegrain meals, and non-processed foods. Healthy nutrition is the first line of defense against illnesses and injuries too.

Drink Tons of Water

You might harm your kidneys if you forget to take water during training, especially when you train in a hot state like Thailand. Drink a lot of water, proper hydration gives you tons of benefits and boosts your performance.

Feed Your Muay Thai Addiction!

Read Muay Thai books, and watch movies. Enjoy the all-time greatest fights. There are tons of materials accessible all over the internet. We don’t live in the era of DVD or VHS, today you are one click away from things you love!

Think about your favorite Thai boxer, copycat his moves, and learn from the best. Educate yourself a bit on Thai culture, it will turn you into a warrior. Remember, visiting Muay Thai gyms doesn’t mean feeding your addiction, you need to create a spiritual connection!

Suggestion For Muay Thai Beginners

Taking private lessons is the greatest piece of advice, but what if you barely collect money for your regular sessions? Well, a trip to Thailand could skyrocket your skills, but the majority of us don’t have the money to travel around the world.

No probs, focus on my pieces of advice in the paragraphs below and you can progress in your dojo too.

Train With Different People

I’ve got a confession to make. I am usually losing to shorter guys because they move like cats and change angles quicker. If you constantly train with big or small people, it will affect your performance.

When you meet a smaller or a bigger guy than your regular training partner, you’ll miss them over and over. In most gyms, there’s a mixture of fat and lean, big and small, quick and slow guys. Mix it up, everybody brings something new to the game.

How To Find A Gym?

Open the internet and look for photos and video recordings. Or sometimes, if you have a friend, choose the gym by the recommendation.

Visit the gym you’ve chosen and watch one training. If you think that’s it, go for it, let your Thai career get underway!

Don’t Expect To Get Good Overnight.

You can’t become a bag work expert in a week. You can strike the best in the world, but if you don’t know to circle and close/open angles, you’ll stay a beginner forever.

You cannot become a star overnight, some fighters train for 10+ years before they become top-notch threats in their weight classes. Patience is the key!

Drill The Basics.

If a coach tells you to work on your jab, don’t take it as an insult. You must master the basic strikes to be able to throw the advanced ones. For example, you can forget about weaving overhand right when you didn’t master your right hook.

Aim For Consistency.

Every day is a new day for learning. Consistency is the key to the success. Talent matters in 5-10% of cases, but hard worker beats the most talented guys inonhe planet because of his supreme dedication!

Recover Well Between Training Sessions.

A good night’s sleep is irreplaceable. Yet, we live in a modern age, everybody works at least one job. If possible, sleep or rest between trainings. If not, then at least try to recover mentally or think about the achievements and potential improvements.

Show Respect.

Don’t be rude and disrespectful, your partners and teammates are here to help you progress. Don’t argue if somebody accidentally hits you harder, respect them and they will respect you.

A healthy training atmosphere is a key to better progress. Good chemistry matters, if you’re surrounded by bad people, it affects you mentally.

Be Open To Feedback.

This doesn’t mean “listen to internet trolls”. Many evil people only bully others via the keyboard.

Be open to feedback from your sparring teammates and coaches. Learn from the best, you don’t have to accept everything, but implement at least 70 percent of good pieces of advice. You will progress faster.

How Long Should You Train Before Your First Muay Thai Fight?

Many atypical moves are used in Muay Thai, and the fight is no joke. You should give yourself at least six months to prepare and build your fighting style.

I might sound a bit cruel, but six months if you don’t skip training. This is combat sports, somebody might knock your head off, every single training session matters. Believe me, you don’t want to end your fighting career before it starts!

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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