Famously known as the art of eight weapons, Muay Thai (“MT”) is an ancient form of combat that originated in Thailand. A powerful art that employs clinch (upperbody) throws, punches, kicks, knees and elbows, MT forms a key part of the Thai cultural identity and is a source of great national pride. Thai fighters generally start their careers at an early age, usually fighting full contact by the age of 8 or 9, and successful fighters often have 300+ fights before retiring.
Because its techniques are so devastating, MT is often considered by outsiders to be a particularly brutal form of striking. However, MT, as it is practiced in Thailand, is a very precise art and requires a great deal of skill, patience and control. Because they generally train 6 hours each day, and often fight weekly, you will never see Thai fighters sparring aggressively with each other in practice. Rather, they exchange incredibly powerful strikes with control, precision and huge smiles on their faces.
In recent years, Muay Thai has become very popular in the West, most notably in Europe, where the Dutch school of kickboxing has combined many Thai techniques with Western footwork and boxing. MT, when combined with Western Boxing, is generally considered the best foundational striking art for MMA.