Muay Thai is a stand-up striking martial art with the elements of clinch fighting and neck wrestling. There is no grappling or ground fighting in Muay Thai.
UFC is an MMA Federation in which Muay Thai (and also Boxing) form a main stand-up striking style within MMA. When you see a UFC fighter throwing a knee to the body or smashing an opponent with his elbows then know that those are all Muay Thai techniques.
MMA rules allow grappling and ground game so UFC fighters make use of grappling and wrestling techniques are taken from BJJ, Wrestling, Judo, and even Greco-Roman wrestling.
Muay Thai in MMA: a list of the best MMA fighters with Muay Thai background
One of the reasons why I chose Muay Thai is that it is good for self-defense.
I wrote about why Muay Thai is good for self-defense many times before and it boils down to a few important points:
Muay Thai teaches you straight-forwards fighting techniques that are effective and simple to use. It doesn’t teach you some fancy looking but not very useful moves and strikes Muay Thai puts great pressure on conditioning: stamina and strength training, shin conditioning, core conditioning.
This gives you a physical advantage over the opponent In Muay Thai the main tool of learning is sparring, which means you’ll be encouraged to fight almost right from the beginning of your training. You’ll have to face a real opponent instead of punching the air. This gives you a great mental advantage over regular guys.
I’ve answered similar questions many times before, so I created a post: Muay Thai for self-defense to cover this subject.
Elbows have one disadvantage over fists: shorter reach.
Apart from that elbows are more effective in short range fight:
the tip of an elbow is just a one, very hard bone - it is less prone to break on impact than a knuckle the tip of an elbow is the sharpest - and one of the hardest - point of a human body and a powerful elbow slash can cut a forehead or eyebrow like a knife
Powerful Muay Thai elbow strikes and elbow combinations
I would choose: Muay Thai and Boxing for stand up striking Wrestling for takedown defense I wouldn’t do any ground game
There are few areas where Muay Thai is different than most other martial arts:
it utilizes 8 points of contact: fists, shins, knees, and elbows. That’s why Muay Thai is called an “art of 8 limbs”
in Muay Thai sparring is the main tool of learning.
In Muay Thai there are two main types of sparring: technical sparring and a regular (light and full-power) sparring in Muay Thai there are no belts. The only belt you will ever get is a champion’s belt if you train hard and compete at the highest level
Learn more about Muay Thai: What is Muay Thai? Muay Thai fighting techniques and training routines
There are few common mistakes untrained guys do when fighting:
they forgot to breathe so they gas out quickly
they do not hold their guard up high so they are open for getting punched or kicked in the face
they insist on throwing an easy to block haymakers
Muay Thai for self-defense
You will get a knock out when you hit a side of your opponent’s chin: especially when you hit the spot where the jaw connects with the rest of the skull.
The punch doesn’t have to be very strong: even a moderately strong but accurate punch can cause the knockout. The resulting brain trauma may leave him unconscious for a while.
Best Muay Thai knockouts
One of the myths is: skills are everything and size doesn’t matter. This might be true when you confront one smaller yet trained guy with a bigger and untrained opponent. So this may work in a street fight.
When it comes to a pro fight, where both of the fighters are highly trained and mentally prepared, every pound of muscle matters and gives the fighter an advantage over the opponent. The weight divisions are there for a reason. There are some exceptions, like Saenchai, that proves the rule.
No. It is better to gradually condition your shin by kicking softer heavy bags and then move on to harder banana bags.
The shins are getting tougher in a process called bone remodeling.
Your bones are getting harder in the long term process of micro-damaging and rebuilding the bone tissue. And not by killing the nerves in your shins by rolling the pins on them.
Muay Thai shin conditioning
That’s what I’ve been doing at the beginning of my adventure with Muay Thai. And I wasn’t in the best shape of my life back then.
I was hanging out with friends on the weekends drinking in pubs and eating takeaway food on a regular basis. Stuff - like greasy cheeseburgers - that I wouldn’t put in my mouth now even if I got paid for it.
That had to change.
So I started running in a nearby park on a regular basis and doing bodyweight exercises on my own until I built up enough stamina. Then I hit a Muay Thai gym and I practiced bag drills on my own (with some advice from my Khru) and I would stay extra hours in the gym if I had to. In no time I was ready for a regular training with an intermediate group.
I wrote down some of the bodyweight exercises that I’ve found the most beneficial for my progress. If you dig deeper in my site you can also find heavy bag drills and combinations. Enjoy
Effective bodyweight workout routine: how to get fit without a gym