If you are just beginning your Muay Thai experience, I would like to congratulate you. You made a great choice. No matter if you want to improve your physique while getting some knowledge in self-defense and fighting, or you desire to follow a professional path, Muay Thai will not disappoint you. Before you experience your first training, however, you need to be well prepared.
In the overflowing market for martial arts gear, it is often difficult to choose the most suitable equipment. For a diverse martial art like Muay Thai, you will need a lot of specialized gear. The purpose of this article is to bring more insight to anyone who wants to have the ultimate experience beginning their training.
Below, I will cover all the most important aspects of Muay Thai gear, I will briefly explain the different styles of Muay Thai, and I will give you my personal and professional experience on every bit of information. After reading this article, you should be ready to begin your own path.
I myself have trained Muay Thai for a number of years, although as a part of my MMA training. After all, it has been one of the most preferred martial arts in recent years, both separated or in MMA. No matter what you choose, I would suggest that you do not miss out on any of the information given below.
What gear do you need for Muay Thai?
As I already mentioned, Muay Thai is one of the most diverse martial arts. I will start with the essentials and then continue with gear that is useful but not entirely necessary in the beginning. However, I suggest that you consider every bit of equipment as everything listed below will help you improve while providing extra protection and efficiency.
Muay Thai Gloves
You already know gloves will be your first and most important purchase. Having all the other equipment you will need, everyone wants to find the most suitable pair and not something expensive that they will regret in the future. Now, there are a few types of Muay Thai gloves such as Sparring gloves, Clinch gloves, and Bag gloves. However, your best choice will be the all-in-one training gloves.
Ideally, many people tend to use regular boxing gloves for Muay Thai and the opposite when changing martial arts but this is not so often suitable. Muay Thai gloves allow you to open your hands easier and get a good grip during a clinch. This is the main difference that you should really know about. I have used both types during a Muay Thai training, and I would definitely recommend getting proper authentic gloves for the particular martial art. The differences may seem small, but trust me, it is worthy choice.
Muay Thai gloves come in a variety of sizes. It mainly depends on the individual to choose the weight but there are a couple of suggested sizes depending on the type of training. For example, as with any other martial art, for sparring, I would suggest heavier gloves between 14 and 18oz. The heavier the gloves, the more protected your partner will be, and you as well. This is because the weight will ideally make your punches slower and the additional padding will provide extra safety.
To be honest, outside of my sparring sessions, I used lighter gloves – 10 or 12oz. This served for improving technique and speed. In addition, light gloves from quality brands also have enough padding and protection. Of course, this means that you need more than a single pair but you will see that with time, you will have a lot more than one or two pairs.
If you plan on following a professional career path, you need to know that regularly professional Muay Thai matches are played with light gloves between 8 and 10oz. It usually depends on the weight category. It is normal for lightweight fighters to use 8oz gloves while heavy fighters would rather go with 10oz or so.
With this said, I wouldn’t recommend training with 8oz gloves unless you plan on doing light bag/pad work. Otherwise, you will not have enough protection and although you may not feel it on the moment, it is not safe for your long-term physical health.
With Muay Thai, you can expect to throw a great lot of punches. What you need, are gloves that will endure these heavy pieces of training. Genuine leather continues to be the most preferred choice by professionals and coaches as it is the most endurable type of gloves.
If you go deep enough in your searches, you may be able to find gloves from synthetic materials that are considerably efficient but my opinion is that the industry has not yet improved as much to offer a decent replacement to genuine leather gloves.
Besides endurance, there is one more key factor that should make genuine leather gloves your final choice. It is practically the same with shoes – synthetic leather will make you sweat a lot more. With genuine leather, it is quite the opposite and your hands will breathe a lot more. No one wants to have smelly gloves and hands all the time.
Velcro or Lace-up
These are the two versions for Muay Thai gloves you can choose from. Both have their ups and downs and it once again depends entirely on you to choose what suits you most.
If you do not plan on training by yourself and your gym mates won’t get pissed off lacing uo your gloves every time, I would suggest that you can consider lace-up gloves. They fit a lot better and are tighter around the wrists. This way, they are a lot safer than Velcro gloves. The only issue with these is that you need someone else to tighten your laces. The vast majority of amateurs and pros alike will use velcro and lace up for fights.
As for Velcro gloves, you do not require any assistance. They are easy to put on and off but are far looser. I wouldn’t suggest using Velcro gloves for heavy bag/pads training as your wrists will not be as protected. In addition, you could easily scratch your partner during your sparring sessions. I know this does not sound like a serious injury but it is definitely not anything pleasant.
Similar to my MMA Gloves Guide, I will take some time to express my opinion on the importance of hand wraps. I think no one should begin training without putting on some hand wraps under the gloves. Although you will most likely be using heavier gloves, they will never be sufficient enough to fully protect your hands.
They will prevent your wrists from breaking, you can wrap them around your knuckles, and something I mentioned above, your gloves will not get smelly. Here is my favorite video guide to hand wrapping. It is not hard to do but you want to do it correctly, otherwise, the whole effect will not be as sufficient.
There are two types of wraps to choose from – elastic cotton and non-elastic cotton. Obviously, the elastic ones are flexible and a lot more convenient. However, I would definitely suggest non-elastic cotton wraps for long training sessions as they will get loose after a far longer period of time.
I have seen a lot of people around me express their disappointment with how expensive good mouth guards are. Although I feel the same way, I think that having your teeth knocked out will make you regret not spending the extra cash.
In fact, I wouldn’t recommend training without mouth guard to anyone, beginner or an already experienced fighter. Simply spend the extra $15-20 and ensure your safety. It’s a contact sport, you will need it. There are, of course, custom mouth guards which are made for your teeth. It is always the best decision to have something that fits you perfectly but I wouldn’t say it is necessary. However, if you have a lot of money to spare, consider getting a custom one, they usually cost around $80-100.
Although this piece of equipment will be used mainly during sparring, I think it is essential. There are people that train for fun and miss out on this part of the whole experience. However, I still believe that shin guards are useful and will be required at least once at some point.
My personal favorite brand for shin guards has to be Top King. Although I have owned only one pair by them, I have tried out different models and by other brands as well. In the end, you need to find something that fits your leg and is not too small. Besides that, you need to be sure that they will protect the feet and shins. Smaller ones are simply pointless.
Muay Thai Shorts
Although I do not find the Muay Thai shorts a necessity, I am still placing them in the essential items. This may be due to the fact that I have been mostly an MMA fighter. I think we all know how good it feels when you look professional while doing a specific action.
It is the same with martial arts equipment. You will look a lot more dedicated if you wear your own Muay Thai shorts rather than regular athletic shorts. Most large and renovated gyms have their own sportswear so you can expect to receive something with their logo.
If, however, you want to have your own authentic shorts beforehand, I would most definitely suggest Yokkao as your go-to brand for Muay Thai shorts. I have had two pairs overall and both were by this brand.
Ankle Wraps and Knee Pads
I am putting these two together as both depend entirely on the individual. I think these two are unnecessary for a beginner unless you have problems in these areas or simply want extra safety. Additionally, ankle wraps could make you feel more stable during a fight.
I myself have always used knee pads simply because I suffered an injury on both knees in my late childhood. You need to ensure that they are the correct size. Therefore, I would suggest that you choose these in a physical store rather than an online store. Same goes for the ankle wraps as a pair too tight will affect your blood circulation.
If you haven’t got any injuries, I would rather say that these two are not a necessity. With a good coach, you will learn how to move and control your legs properly, and I doubt that you will have any problems in these areas.
This is another piece of equipment that I think is situational based on your personal safety expectations. I would recommend a boxing headgear for people that have a lot of sparring sessions. Otherwise, I think it is a waste of money for a beginner.
Muay Thai Kick Pads
I am sure you have already watched training videos or have seen someone train Muay Thai. Therefore, you should know that Muay Thai pads are most likely the most essential piece of equipment for training. These pads are divided into training techniques. For example, there are Leg Kick Pads, and there are Focus Mitts.
These essential pads are always available in the gym but there are those that prefer to have their own at home. I myself have never owned any but if I could return to my first steps in MMA, I would definitely purchase some. After all, training with friends at home or in nature was one of my favorite activities.
Here are a couple of videos I found very useful about pads. Since I will not focus on the different types of pads here, I suggest that you take a look if you feel like you want to purchase any.
What are the different styles of Muay Thai?
In the beginning, you will not get too involved with the different styles of Muay Thai. Before anything else, your coach will begin with the basics. However, with time, you will realize that there are not simply one or two fighting styles in this martial art.
This style focuses mainly on kicking techniques during training. It is a style that has the purpose to destroy the opponent with a continuous wave of heavy kicks all over the body.
This style is most likely the most aggressive as it has the purpose to take out the opponent as fast as possible with a series of heavy hits, mostly in the head. Fighters who have this style are very endurable when it comes to getting hit as well. Their only aim is to knock out the enemy, no matter the damage or injuries they will have to suffer at the same time.
I could easily say that this is my favorite style of Muay Thai as it is aggressive and straightforward. I think it could easily become your favorite too, simply check out this video of one of the greatest Muay Mat fighters, who sadly passed away – Ramon Dekkers.
The third popular style of Muay Thai is Muay Khao. Ideally, fighters here spend a lot of time searching for a clinch and inflicting damage with their knees. I do not know many fighters who train in this style but I do know how destructive knee techniques are. Besides that, they grant you a lot of points during a professional fight.
I am leaving the most complicated style last – Muay Femur. Widely known as the King’s discipline, this style encompasses every type of technique in this sport but mastered to perfection. Fighters who have mastered this style are an absolute treat to watch. They are great tacticians, they know how to get out in dangerous situations, and how to escape injuries.
What is the Best Muay Thai Brand?
As with every other martial art or any sport, the market is overflowed with brands and products. Although there are many new additions on the market that are continuously rising to fame, I will focus on the usual go-to brands that I am used to and experienced with.
If you ask any professional, they will most likely tell you a name between Fairtex, Yokkao, Top King, etc. I would say that it all depends on the individual, as with almost everything else. For a beginner, I would easily suggest something by the most renowned brands. They definitely stand out and produce really high-quality products that are efficient and endurable.
My personal favorite brand has always been Venum. This applies to both Muay Thai and MMA gloves that I have previously owned. I have hardly ever had a better experience. At the same time, the next person you ask may tell you that he hates Venum. It is all individual according to experience. My suggestion is to try out as many as you can during your training. I have never been a person to stick to one brand, my gloves, and equipment usually varied with each purchase.
Why are Muay Thai shorts so short?
People have been widely pushed away from Muay Thai shorts due to their length. Honestly, it is simply a tradition. You realize you do not necessarily need to wear them high. When you think about it, they are not overly short, or at least that is my opinion. You do not want to restrict your movement with kicks and knees also.
I think they provide enough airflow so that you do not overheat during training, and at the same time you can show off the progress in your legs to your peers in the gym. Think positive, Muay Thai shorts are a great authentic addition to your equipment, although they are not a necessity.
What should you wear on your first Muay Thai class?
I am sure that you will be both excited and a little bit frustrated before your first class in any martial art. With Muay Thai, the first class includes a warm-up, usually shadow-boxing, and some techniques and punches that the trainer will teach you.
Naturally, you should either wear your most comfortable athletic shorts and shirt, or your authentic Muay Thai shorts. As I mentioned, all gyms will have every piece of equipment you may need. This means that they will most certainly have shin pads, gloves, etc. that you may use. However, I would really suggest that you already have your own pairs of everything before you decide to experience your first training.
Most importantly, do not eat too much beforehand and bring a lot of water.
I wish I could go back to my first day of training and experience everything once again. If Muay Thai is your first martial art, I cannot tell you how amazing you will feel after your first class. It is a brand new world that you will enter and it will certainly change your life if you continue training.
I feel like you should now be ready to purchase the most suitable equipment for yourself. Before you go, let me give you one last tip. I would recommend that you make your orders online with at least the larger portion of your equipment. This is due to the fact that physical stores have a lot of added costs and I think you have a lot of equipment to go through.
In addition, your gym will most certainly try to sell you either their own branded equipment or professional gear by famous brands. Stay as far as possible from these offers as they naturally could even double your costs.
With this said, we went through all sorts of the necessary gear, you learned about the different styles of MMA, and I discussed a few popular beginner questions. Make sure you give the videos I shared a look, you will learn a lot more about the different aspects of this martial art. As for the different brands, I think that you will find your favorites as you gain experience.
In the end, I have to say one thing. If you have the opportunity, get the more expensive pieces of gear – in martial arts, the most popular brands are a few and they truly have the best equipment. Never settle for the cheap equipment, in a combat sport you need to stay safe and protected.