Monday, August 09, 2010

Does MMA help or hurt muay thai?

I think I've made my opinion on the use of muay thai in mixed martial arts abundantly clear, but I want to hear from you, my readers.

Perhaps I'm a purest, or perhaps its the blatant lack of actual muay thai technique used in UFC fights that has forged my opinion. Perhaps its because I believe that combat sports is an oxymoron and every time I see a TapOut t-shirt I equate it to little penis syndrome.

Most MMA fights bore me with their predictable series of half ass leg kick, a couple of wild punches, someone shoots in and it goes to the ground, hooray. Yes, there are effective stand up fighters like Anderson Silva who are proficient at muay thai, but fighters like him are few and far between.

I want your opinion. Take the poll to the right of this article or leave your comment and elaborate on what you think. Has MMA, UFC, modern StrikeForce (they used to use ISKA rules) helped bring credibility to muay thai, or is it misrepresenting a martial art with watered down techniques or lack of focus on its training? You decide.


  1. Gotta agree on this. It's like what people did to karate.

  2. I think Anderson Silva is great but didn't Chael Sonnen expose his Achilles's heel?

  3. Rule of Combat: If it is gross motor and works use it. Don't give a hoot what it looks like.

    That being said, I understand your particular P.O.V. on the subject matter though

  4. I think it helped bring muay thai into the mainstream but in a very limited way so it can also be seen as bastardizing a great fighting system. It also appears that the rules in most mma fights do not favor traditional muay thai (and totally water it down (12-6 elbow strikes ,knees to the face of downed opponents)probably alot more i am not aware of to me this is ridiculous as this is a fight right ? so it would favor the take down wrestler ...On the upside maybe so many boring fights will create a backlash and bring people back to traditional muay thai fights which are very exciting .I should have prefaced this by saying i am not a fighter or muay thai practitioner just a casual observer ...ha ha totaly agree with your tapout shirt theory

  5. I think the sport of MMA is going the way of boxing, corrupt, boring and predictable.

    But unlike boxing, it will get there faster.

    The majority of the fighters are
    "jack of all trades but masters of none".

    The Muay Thai techniques they attempt to use look very sloppy and amatuerish at best.

    But then again it is a sport with rules.

    Remember with rules things change.

  6. Hi Daniel,

    MMA, in its current fashion, have less than 18 years. Sure the training methods will be much more fast improved and the fighter´s techniques will turn much better in the next decades due the cross-training with pro Muay Thai, Boxing and Jiu-Jitsu/Wrestling.
    The way now lies in the new methodologies/didatics to optmize this fighting arts (btw, Mr. Steve Morris, a british MMA coach started this task here:
    MMA is the most near (and safety) of an actual fight, even without weapons like knifes and sticks in the game (Dog Brothers are an exception).
    Anyway, I agree with you: "combat sport"(sic) is a oxymoron indeed.
    Luciano Imoto

  7. Yeah i reckon, old style muay thai is the best. I wanted to learn Muay thai for self defence not so much for the sport side of things, only to realise that muay thai is a sport. Old style muay thai was originally used for the battlefield so it will never be able to be used to its full potential in MMA because people will probably die.

  8. "Hurt, it's bastardizing a great fighting system."

  9. All I have to say is "Jose Aldo". His Muay Thai is solid and far from sloppy. It may not be original MT, but, for MMA I believe he presents the most technically sound.

  10. I think it helps a little. I trained mainly in boxing up until about 2 years ago when I decided I wanted to fight in MMA. I started training muay thai first to learn how to use the legs and elbows and get good at the stand up game before working on ground game. I know a few people that have started muay thai because they've watched some UFC fights and decided to start doing something.

    I agree with you that a lot of the MMA guys have not very good muay thai skills. In the MMA class I go to I watch them spar and hit the bags, and the way they've been taught to strike is all wrong. They don't have any power, it's very watered down.

    1. It doesnt matter if you hit as hard as Mike Tyson did, and from a clinch I can armbar and then what.. your fucked. Remember only punks think fighting is all about striking its about winning by any means possible. And if you think them boys dont hit hard quit watching them and start sparring them! Personally if you take classes for self defense your not a fighter but a bitch. You take classes to better yourslef in a fight or the cage then you might be a fighter...

  11. Well, another reason is the take down. Muay Thai has to be modified because you have to take into account the takedown. Most MT classes dont ever think of the take down, they dont worry about someone shooting in on them. There may be exceptions to that, but that's normally the rule.

  12. How many muay thai instructors have jobs because of the interest generated by MMA? From weekend warriors to competitors, people have discovered muay thai because of UFC and K1 and Pride. How bad can this be? For every person that takes a shortcut version of muay thai, there's a person who falls in love with it and wants to immerse in it.

  13. what about jose aldo?

    the level is definately improving all the time. the problem is people are often afraid to use the full muay thai style for fear of takedowns

  14. I think that in ufc the game changes a lot not that i'm a fan i find it boring aswell, but the fact that you can be taken down whereas in stand up muay thai fights you cannot, it changes how the fighters behave aswell as the opening of attacks, i'm sure you would be much more confident to go for high kicks etc knowing that you cannot be submitted to the ground whereas in ufc you will be hesitant to do most things that could leave you open to a submission.

  15. Once the genie is out of the bottle, the potential for corruption is absolute. I don't think it matters if the UFC made it popular or not, though it certainly has helped bring it to mainstream America. Popular martial arts suffer bastardization, and that is just a sad truth. So sad and so true, that one cannot always find good instruction in the arts they choose, even when surrounded by choices.

    However, pulling a martial art from the obscurity of the jungle, the cloak of the candlelit dojo, and slamming it into the mainstream harder than Forrest Griffin eats a punch, does not mean that there won't be dedicated students striving to find excellent instruction and technique. There will always be a growing number of great Muay Thai trainers that maintain those hard won, honed shinbone edges and pass their knowledge on into the future. But the popularity of Muay Thai, brought on by the UFC and others, means that there will also be a growing number of hacks, eager to pass along their knowledge as well as their lacunas.

  16. I do hope people will get better at Muay Thai. I hate seeing bad technique in MMA fights.

  17. The sport is still evolving & I give all the fighters credit for putting their asses on the line instead of criticizing without competing. I'm pretty sure 99% of the MMA fighters in the UFC would kick 100% of the asses of the people on here dissing their MT skills. Sure, some of them have weak MT skills, but that's fine with me. Some Muay Thai fighters have weaker clinching skills and some having weaker boxing skills. They may have one strong attribute that negates their other weaknesses. Look at Dieselnoi, he had great knees & pretty much dominated everyone with his clinch knees:

  18. Ditto on Jose Aldo. I'd put his MT skills up against anyone dissing MMA on this post! The sport is still young & these fighters have a temendous amount of skills to assimilate. Maybe we should think about that before we criticize only one aspect of their game. I'm sure there were a lot of critics when fighters began to intergrate boxing punches into Muay Thai too. I would ask people not to be so insecure and realize that boxing actually enhanced Muay Thai instead of watering it down. We should worry less about keeping things the same & just be glad that Muay Thai is still evolving. What if the Muay Thai fighters from the past were so closed minded and just stopped after having a few kicks in their arsenal and not explored elbows, knees, and clinching? The system would not be nearly as effective. I've seen Muay Thai fighters incorporate non traditional kicks into their repetoire after competing with foreign fighters. I don't think this is a bad thing, and actually enjoy seeing it. The problem with some farang is they are too obsessed with doing only what the Thais did, but some of the younger Thais feel no such burden. Saenchai is a great example of a fighter who is not burdened by having to employ only traditional Muay Thai techniques. I'm pretty sure Saenchai could kick most of our asses on this post in the ring, on the street, and anywhere else you would want to fight.

  19. Hey if you guys have better MT skills than MMA fighter Jose Aldo, please post some videos. I'd like to see it.

  20. I'm late to the party, but the shirt. I want the shirt. The first couple of year I saw them and their "TapOut" shirts, I'd ask the person how long they have trained figuring I'd have a fun convo with a fellow martial artist. Fewer and fewer did and more and more wanted to do macho chest thumping and then the dam broke and they are everywhere; so I stopped asking. I then saw the commercials. Face paint? No thanks.

  21. B, I found an online source for the crapout shirt - Wear it with pride (not the mma league!

  22. Donnie B

    I love your clips available on youtube, blogspot, and all the resources you provide. I am in law school and being able to "learn" a little bit on a study break by watching or reading some of your stuff for a few minutes is great. I am not sure if this has been commented on before, but since it seems kinda sorta related to your overall question about "does MMA help or hurt MT" I thought I would throw it out anyways. I was in the Army for 6 years as an infantry guy and did some basic combative courses at Ft. Bennning. While I found grappling on a mat an incredible workout, I did not see how those skills applied to a soldier in uniform carrying a combat load (presumably without the benefit of his primary weapon) on the battlefield. Fighting in body armor (damn vests are heavy) means you do not want to "take it to the mat" and unfortunately the military got hoodwinked by BJJ's contribution to the "sport" of MMA. Sorry my comment is a little off point, but the popularity of the UFC and BJJ's role in the UFC definitely contributed to the Army adopting Gracie style JJ. A style horribly inappropriate for a today's soldier. Can't you just picture it, soldier with a 100lb ruck pulling guard and going for a flying leg triangle on Taliban Tim in the mountains of Afghanistan? And before I take cheap shots from the peanut gallery, I spent three years of my life deployed and had plenty of close calls.

  23. Exactly, Dave. Have you ever tried throwing a roundhouse kick to the head with a fully loaded rucksack? I guaranty you land on your butt. And I completely agree with your opinion on BJJ -I see a lot of government RFQs on contracts for trainers with BJJ experience. Whether in urban combat or on the street going to the ground is a death sentence.

    It our common mindset, we use the brutal efficiency of muay thai and other SE Asia systems in the application of neutralizing a threat as quickly and efficiently as possible. We also put a strong emphasis on multiple opponent situations in which going to your guard will get you stomped on the street, and in combat will get you shot along with the guy you're wrestling.

    No cheap shots from me. I completely agree (prob because we come from the same world view). UFC has created a false sense of over testosteroned mid 20-somethings who think that ground and pund is the way to show dominance. Here's an example I have: I truly am terrible at grappling - that's (why you carry a blade). I was demonstrating different counters to shooting techniques - He got me and within 2 minutes I knew I didn't have a way out, so I tapped... his conditioned response (in line with all the other meat head MMA guys) was to release me - I then jumped on him with elbows and (bite to the throat). That's something you won't learn in an mma gym. But I feigned submission to the alpha male drive in order to get myself in an advantageous position. In short, sport MMA is a sport with that produces a disillusioned frame of mind in its practitioners.

    Last example - back in the early 90's (when martial arts instructors still challenged eachother) a school owner challenged my instructor to a fight - the rules: fight at the Muay Thai Academy Int'l, our rules (which are essentially no rules)- the day of the challenge the guy shows up, stretches out warms up, all the while my instructor sits calmly in a folding chair. When the challenger was ready, my instructor calmly gets up, pulls a .9mm from his waistband and says "You lose." That is reality.

    Long winded response - I agree with you completely on your tangent because I feel that its incredibly relevant to this post. Thank you Sir for the validation.

  24. i dont think mma has watered down muay thai at all, the problem is that full muay thai techniques would probably get you taken down and submitted against a well rounded fighter, which is what an mma fighter is. a muay thai fighter loses against an mma fighter solely because a muay thai fighter is not an all around fighter. a muay thai fighter consists of a guy with good striking technique because of the punches and kicks that can b utilized at a far range and the elbows and knees that are utilized at close range not to mention the clinching techniques witch create good takedowns, but what happens if youget taken down? bjj came from jiujitsu which was used on the battlefield back in the days before guns were born and the way of the sword reined. jiu jitsu and judo was beyond effective because every one was heavily armored on the battle field because nobody wanted to get sliced and diced by the sword. unless your round house kick is sharper thn a samurai sword, i highly doubt you or any other intelligent fighter would want to go blow blow with a heavily armored samurai, which is why jiujitsu and judo were so effective because joints werent armored which means bones could be broken. lets be real, we are talking about martial arts here, on the battle field there are norules, your strongest kick will get grabbed and broken on the battle field, not checked the way fighters are tought to do in order to keep the fight and the entertainment going, but on the battle field any limb that you throw to strike with will be grabbed and broken. jiu jitsu, whether brazilian or japanese, will embarres muay thai on the battle field in the same manner it gets done in the mma ring because you bird brains think your striking game is so tough that you wont get taken down failing to realize thats its impossible for a striker to not wrap up and grapple with anybody that hes fighting. you see it happen in boxing all the time and boxers are the best punchers in the world and still end up wrapping up. muay thais response to the inevitable grappling that comes with striking is clinching with elbows and knees, which is why you will lose when you realize your opponent does not want to engage in knees or elbows, your opponent was smart enough to learn how to take the fight to the ground where he can easily choke you out if were talkin sport or kill you if where talking battlefield. stop complaining about mma fighters and bjj and try learning it, not only will you make yourself an all around fighter, but maybe then youll come to under stand why some or most mma fighters fight the way they do: simply because some of the things that are done in most traditional martail arts make it easier for you to get taken to the ground. every fight ends up on the ground, face the facts and fill the hole that is evident in your fighting style, only then can you consider your self a true warrior. i have been in plenty street fight and in almost every fight i saw myself on the ground, so i feel privaleged to say that any of you martial artist who critisize bjj have never been in a real fight and therefore have no rite to critisize a fighting style that has been embarrasing all other fighting styles for quite some time now simply because nobdy thinks they could get taken to the ground because they either punch to fast or kick to hard. youll never grow into a true martial artist until you empty your cup...
    i love the way you guys call the muay thai used in mma watered down when the muay thai you practice is a watered down version of muay boran, the true thai fighting style which was used on the battle field which may i mention looks nothing like the muay thai used in the ring. the muay thai you see in mma is a muay thai that has adapted itself to the intricacies of fighting some one who can take you down at any given notice. none of you loud mouths have the heart to get in an octagon with a real fighter any way...