Is Muay Thai Good For Self Defence – Find Out Why It’s The Best

Muay Thai is also known as the Art Of 8 Limbs and its fighters utilize punches, kicks, elbows, and knees to inflict as much damage as possible on their opponent and there is also the clinch to consider which is an art form in and of itself.

One of the main questions people have before getting involved in a martial art is how effective it is for self-defense and the answer for Muay Thai is, very effective. Muay Thai is well known as the king of stand up fighting and the variety of hard and effective strikes makes it second only to MMA for self-defense in my opinion and maybe even number 1. Muay Thai isn’t like other martial arts that are average at best for self-defence like Karate or Taekwondo, you will learn how to perform seriously effective strikes in Muay Thai from your very first class.


History Of Muay Thai

Muay Thai has a colorful history, it evolved from the Thai Military version called Krabi Kabong where, Thai Soldiers used a Muay Thai style with swords in either arm to protect the Thai province from Burmese invaders and if they dropped their swords, they would continue to fight with just their hands and feet.

Muay Thai and developed into competition between the Thai Soldiers without the weapons but where they would wrap their hands with ropes and where they would wear each other down with all eight limbs until only one man was standing. This form of competition was known as Muay Boran and is very similar to the Muay Thai we see today in the ring.

In the 20th century, muay Thai became very popular with the royal family in Thailand and exhibitions were carried out using a full size ring, gloves, and costumes similar to what I still seen today.

If you’re considering whether Muay Thai is effective for self-defense you should look no further to the fact that Thailand used it to defend itself in ancient times.


Does Muay Thai work in a street fight

The best defense in a street fight is to not get into one in the first place but we understand that these things do happen and you want to be able to defend yourself if it does ever happen to you.

Anybody that can fight effectively is very rarely going to be involved in street fights as they don’t have anything to prove, but a person who is training Muay Thai will beat an untrained person almost every time, 99.9% of the time.

Punches and low Kicks are the best weapons to use in a street fight and if you get in close you can also use elbows but you’re risking serious damage to the other party then that you might have to deal with for years to come.

You don’t want to risk high kicks or teeps in a street fight because you risk your leg getting caught and if it goes onto the ground where Muay Thai training won’t be as effective.


Some Of The Key Benefits Of Muay Thai For Self Defence

Increased Confidence

Training in Muay Thai for 6-months will really increase your confidence in your own abilities and it will make you feel less of a target for anyone who wants to pick on someone.

As we say people that are trained in fighting rarely are involved in street fights and when they are, they end them quickly.

The fact that you know how to throw powerful punches, low-kicks , knees and elbows will give you a lot more confidence that if anything happens you will be able to defend yourself and that is half the battle.


Effective Techniques

The first day you step into a Muay Thai gym, you’re learning skills that you can directly use in the ring or in a street fight but a street fight is always going to be much more risky as there are so many external factors involved.

Some of the best combos you can use would be the jab to the head and a low kick with your rear leg, if you land enough low kicks, then it will cause damage to your opponent’s leg and they won’t be able to stand properly before you can finish them off or completely take out their leg.


Promotes Solid Defense

You won’t only learn how to attack in Muay Thai calls but you’ll also learn how to defend yourself and one of the key elements of defending yourself is to keep enough distance between you and your opponent.

It doesn’t matter how much weights you lift out how big you are if you’re going to allow someone to just stand right in front of you and land the first punch. One of the keys to defending yourself is to always keep your distance, and someone who’s untrained that swings at you can, can be avoided or blocked and you can just let them tire themselves out or pick them off with effective shots.


Never let someone who is being aggressive get in your face and always maintain your distance.



Muay Thai vs Boxing For Self-Defence

I think both of these martial arts are almost as effective in a street fight because you want it to be over as quickly as possible, and a boxer can throw one punch with lightning speed and end a fight, but so can a Thai boxer.


If the fight goes a little bit longer, Thai boxing has a huge advantage because of the low kicks, you’re Opponent will not be able to take any more than 7 low kicks before they will not able to stand effectively anymore, so once the initial scuffle is passed and distance is being maintained, the low kicks is the most effective weapon you can use for hitting and not getting it back.


Another thing that will play a part when it comes to boxing vs Muay Thai is the stances.


The Muay Thai stance is much more square on than a boxer. Standing square on will make it harder to take you to the ground and boxers are particularly prone to the front leg kick and takedowns from MMA because of how they stand to the side which makes the target as little as possible for the sport of boxing but it is not as effective in a street fight as it opens them up to other weapons from other sports.


Muay Thai vs MMA

MMA is always going to be the pinnacle of self-defence once you are at a good level in all the disciplines involved because so many fights end up on the ground and knowing how to choke your opponent out or get them into submission holds is probably the best way to end a fight without doing any permanent damage which you might be dealing with the years ahead in courts and with the police.

That being said if there are buddies involved, the ground game won’t be as effective as friends will just jump in and escalate the situation but one-on-one a good ground game will always come out on top once it goes to the ground.



Muay Thai And A Grappling Sport

If you are ready already trained in judo, jiu-jitsu or wrestling, Muay Thai will be the perfect way for you to complete your arsenal and make you almost unstoppable in a street fight against someone who hasn’t trained before.

The risk with just Muay Thai is that the fight goes to the ground but if you are also comfortable there then you shouldn’t have to worry about anybody who might give you problems or hassle on the street.


Perfect Muay Thai Combo For Women

It is very important in today’s world for women to be able to defend themselves and Muay Thai offers the perfect combo for women to strike out against a bigger attacker and remove themselves from the scene quickly and effectively. That combo is a jab to the head and the knee to the balls. The Jab will distract and the knee will render your opponent useless for at least 5 minutes so that is a good advantage of taking up Muay Thai for females.


What to expect from a Muay Thai Class

If you’re just going to a Muay Thai class and you’re trying to figure out what to expect when you show up to a class, the best way to put this is that you can expect an intense workout that will burn close to 1000 calories in a single session and you will learn effective self-defense as soon as the class starts.

The structure of the class might start with a warm-up doing, laps of the gym in a jog, possibly with some sprints.


Good Combos

You will then move onto drills with your partner or hitting the pads with your partner. This will involve learning the basic combos of Muay Thai. That will be the jab and the right kick, I want to when throw a 1-2 and a left kick.  Jab, right kick, left knee is another great combo as is, Double right kick or double left kick. Left Kick and then right kick and all other variations of Punches and Kicks are all good combos and you will usually throw the left hand and then right kick or the other way around.

Kicks are quite hard to learn, you need to get your footwork right, pivoting on the ball of the foot as you turn your hip over for maximum force.


Bag Drills

The class might then involve bag drills where your partner will hold the bag for a minute while you throw fast punches or kicks as quick as you can before swapping over and doing this 3 to 5 times until you are completely exhausted.


Core Excercises

The class my time finish up with some core exercises, different variations of sit-ups and possibly some planks.

The Fighters in the group might do some light sparring and the beginners will hit the bags just to finish up the workout.


How often should I train Muay Thai

You should be aiming to train Muay Thai 2 to 3 times a week so you can learn all the effective techniques as quickly as possible.

The more you practice a kick the more you will engrave it in your muscle memory and you will be able to perform the kicks by habit over time.

There is a lot to learn in Muay Thai and each class should have a different theme if you’re in a good gym.

One day you may be focused on pad work to build up your punching and kicking skills, where you can really put a lot of power into the pads and strike with your full force as your partner will be able to use the cushioned Thai kick pads to take away all the force.


Dutch Style Drills

Another class might involve dutch style drills and this is where you and your partner will both have Muay Thai shin pads, gloves and possibly gum shields, and you can practice all the combos you’ve learned and your partner will be able to block the shots with their shin pads and gloves and this is also a great way to improve your games together.


Clinch work

Some days in the Muay Thai gym might be dedicated fully to Clinch. This is when the Fighters get closer together and wrestle for position so that they can land knees and elbows or get a favourable break from the Clinch to land a punch. This is a full art and skill within itself and it will take a good amount of sessions for you to improve at the Clinch.



The ultimate test of your skills will be in sparring and this is where you will know whether you’re ready for a street fight not because it is the closest thing to a real fight you can get. Of course you will be wearing the protective gear, like a gum shield, Muay Thai shin pads, 16oz sparring gloves and you can go 70% to 80% off your full force with your partner who should also be your friend and you shouldn’t be looking to try and hurt each other but on training improve your technique.


If you are experienced in Muay Thai sparring an inexperienced fighter will have no chance against you on the street.


How long will it take to get good on Muay Thai


It should take about 6 months to get reasonably good at Muay Thai but if you stick with it then the benefits are endless.

I say it will take about 6 months because you need to learn all the basic skills before you can even start to spar and it will take about 3 months of good sparring for you to become proficient enough to handle yourself in any situation involving self-defence or a street fight.

Certain things will help you to improve more quickly like if you come from a boxing background or even if you played another sport like football, all soccer, hockey where you would have built up your hand-eye and hand-foot coordination and competitive edge so that you can pick up the moves a little bit more quickly.

Boxing will really help fror Muay Thai as you will have much better footwork than a regular beginner, you’ll be able to throw fast and hard punches which is also very effective but you will still need to learn all the kicks and the proper techniques of kicking, keeping and meaning. Plus you will need to reset your stance into the more square on Thai style stance.

Muay Thai and Boxing are two completely different sports so even if you’re good at 1 you will still be a beginner in the other.



Pros Of Muay Thai For Self Defence


  • Super Effective Strikes
  • End It Quickly
  • Leg Kicks are almost impossible to defend
  • The King Of Stand Up Striking Sports



  • Could Do A Lot of Damage To Your Opponent
  • No Ground Game
  • Could Struggle Against Muay Thai




If you’re anything like me, grappling will bore you and you prefer to stick with the Thai boxing or boxing and if you’re going on a purely self defence basis you would have to go with Muay Thai. You should always be careful that you could end up doing serious damage to somebody using the techniques of Muay Thai if you do get in a fight, so always always try your best to avoid any physical conflicts.






Aidan Lehane has been involved in the fight game for well over 10 and has trained in some of the leading boxing gyms around the world including Sinbi Muay Thai and MTK Global Marbella. He wants to offer as much advice to beginners and pros as possible.

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