Muay Thai – Training

Muay Thai In MMA

The Art of Eight Limbs, Muay Thai is one of the most effective striking bases in MMA!!

We break down the transition of one of the world’s most popular martial arts in to MMA…

One of the fastest growing sports in the world today, mixed martial arts (MMA), owes it’s success to the origins of fighting. If it weren’t for the rampant obsession with various styles of unarmed combat throughout history, there would be no base for such a promotion to exist, let alone flourish.

One such base style is Muay Thai, the art can be traced back to the 16th century, originally known as Siamese style boxing and made famous by Nai Khanomtom in 1767. The Siam fighter was captured by the Burmese during battle, and was given the opportunity by his captors to fight for freedom. He used what would later be called Muay Thai to win the fight and gain his release, and became a national hero. It was this single event that helped catapult the art to becoming a national sport soon after.

Fast forward to present day MMA, and Muay Thai is more alive than ever. Coaches and fighters recognise the advantages gained in the striking department when Thai boxing is introduced, and it shows in some of the top strikers’ game-plans and resulting finishes.

The striking parts of the body in Muay Thai are the fists, elbows, knees and shins. Clinching is also allowed. With these tools, the techniques are broken down in to six categories, as follows; Punching (Chok), elbow (Sok), kicking (te), knees (Ti Khao), foot thrust (Theep) and clinch/neck wrestling (Chap Kho). Within these categories there are many different methods of delivering the techniques, and many transition perfectly in to MMA.

Although the fundamentals of stance and striking style are very different to that of a solely MMA trained fighter, the most effective movements of Muay Thai can be tailored in to a combatant’s arsenal to devastating effect!


Smelly Gloves?

Smelly Gloves

Smelly Gloves


  1. Don’t leave in your bag
  2. Put in well-ventilated area
  3. Use an anti-bacterial spray
  4. Newspaper to absorb sweat
  5. Fabric softener sheet
  6. Smells nice again!!



1. Don’t leave in your bag

Your hot, dark, damp, sweaty training bag is the perfect breeding for bacteria. If you just leave your gloves in your bag after each training or sparring session, you’ll find your gloves smell more and more. If you do nothing else, take them out of your bag when you get home.

2. Put in well-ventilated area

This can be in a utility room, garage, shed or conservatory with decent air circulation. Mesh bags can be great for carrying your gear that can be used to hang your stuff to dry it out. The main thing is that the gloves need to be completely dried out so the bacteria has no moisture in which to breed.

3. Use an anti-bacterial spray

Before hanging your gloves to dry, you can help kill the bacteria by using an anti-bacterial Febreeze spray or something similar.

4. Newspaper to absorb sweat

Add a few sheets of screwed up newspaper into each glove, this will help take out all the sweat and moisture out of the gloves.

5. Fabric softener sheet

Best tip of all… buy some cheap fabric softener sheets! Put them in the gloves around the newspaper to start to get rid of the smells. Then when your going to use the gloves again, rub the sheets around the inside of the gloves for extra freshness.

6. Smells nice again!!

Your boxing gloves are one of those things that tend to start smelling really bad over time, especially if you work hard! They are a massive breeding ground for bacteria and over time it can get really bad, so bad that other students will avoid sparring with you!! So don’t be that Muay Thai Fighter… follow the above and everyone will still love you!!!

The life cycle of Muay Thai Fighter

From The Farms Of Isaan To The Stadiums Of Bangkok:

The Life Cycle of Muay Thai Fighters In Thailand

“We build them, you break them.  Then they come home…”

Meet CIA…

muay thai fighter

Notable opponents:
  • Saiyok Sit. Samprayak
  • Gungwan Lek Petchindee
  • Duanbley Sit. O Ubon

Where he has fought:

  • Lumpini
  • Rajadamnern
  • Assawindam [Channel 9]
  • Channel 7, Japan

Biggest purse:

  • 2,000 USD

He showed up at our gym about a month ago; Mr. Dit had arranged for him to fight Channel 9 fighter Saiyok in the main event of his promotion.  With just a little over a week of training, he finished the fight victoriously in a third round TKO of the veteran.  From there he was scheduled to fight two more times, a total of three fights in one month.

Saiyok Muay Thai

CIA in His Most Recent Victory Against Saiyok in Nakhon Ratchasima Province

It was apparent the first day that he showed up that he was good.  Not just technically but mentally: he knew exactly what he needed to do to win and most importantly, get paid. His two other fights fell through, and now he is having trouble finding fights.

In Isaan especially, gamblers control the match ups.  If your team has no money to bet, then there is no fight.  Purse and side bet are agreed upon before the fight takes place; the side bet is an equal amount that each team must match.  Other bets with other odds will take place outside of the ring too, but sitting with the ring announcer is the side bet where in the winner will take it all home.

We were told from the two gyms that had pulled their fighters that CIA was too good.  More so, what the issue is here is not that he is too good, but that he is too focused on the fights at hand.  A lot of fighters up here save their best for Lumpini and Rajadamnern and don’t want to take overly difficult fights with people such as CIA because there is little to gain in the smaller venues.  In Bangkok, fighters are only allowed to fight every twenty-one days.  Although in the West that seems like a lot, the majority of these fighters are making less than the Thai minimal wage.  An above average fighter who fights regularly in Bangkok can make about 500 to 1000 USD per fight, and then the gym will take forty percent of that.  Fighting every twenty-one days is also dependent on if they can actually get fights that often; injuries, bad performance, and family problems all factor in.  Therefore, a lot of fighters will come back home and fight a few times before their scheduled matches in Bangkok.  It is a vicious cycle because it wears fighters down and makes it very difficult for them to ever reach their prime.

boom watthanaya muay thai

CIA and Boom Whattanaya Boxing Sparring at Giatbundit Gym

After checking out our gym out and being able to train with Boom (who shares his exceptional work ethic), CIA wants to fight again in Bangkok— but it isn’t that easy to go back.  First, you need a fighter’s license, which only a registered gym can apply for on your behalf.  Second, a gym won’t get you a fighter’s license unless a contract is signed.  CIA was part of Petacklownueng (a prominent police owned camp in Bangkok) and even though his contract and license are expired, he is still required to get an excusal letter from his old gym before officially becoming part of our gym. Fighters in Thailand are extremely loyal to their gym, and in some cases are also scared of their managers.  Asking for such a letter is no easy feat and the gyms can refuse or take a very long time to process the said letter.  Furthermore, it is dependent on the owner as to whether he will focus his time on CIA or the younger up and comers; nothing is guaranteed.

CIA has made it clear that he is done with living and training in Bangkok, for him it is not about leaving his gym but about being close to home again.  Whether he will make it back into Bangkok, only time will tell.  If not, Isaan will take him back again.  Once his spirit and body are broken, he will fight again and the announcer will says things like “once a great fighter, he now works to put food on the table, no shame, sabai-sabai” as I have heard them say time and time again of the many broken fighters who once entered the big rings of Thailand and now come back to compete at temple fairs making a means one fight at a time…

This all got me thinking of the cycle of fighters in Thailand.  It is widely accepted that the majority of fighters in Thailand, as well as the best, come from Isaan.  They are made here at the temple fairs, beginning their careers for a mere three dollars per fight.  From here some are sent, and some are sold into the big gyms in Bangkok.  Getting into a big gym can be a dream for some and a nightmare for others.  Training, eating, and sleeping all in the same location.  Some fighters describe it has being similar to the military.  At such gyms, there are only a few top guys that really get taken care of; the rest are just lumped together much like soldiers.

There are hundreds of fighters that regularly compete at Channel 7 stadium, Lumpini, Rajadamnern, Omnoi, Assawindom, One Songchai etc.  These guys aren’t part of the one percent like Saenchai, and see very little of their hard work truly paying off.  Even champions still struggle to make ends meet, especially those from Lumpini and Rajadamnern which although more prestigious, have less opportunity for sponsorships in comparison to Channel 7.  There is also a drastic cut in pay when you go from the top to the bottom and most fighters are not prepared for their imminent ‘retirement’ from weight cutting and the big arenas of Bangkok.

Some make it out alive and are able buy a car or build a house, but most come back here mere shadows of their glory days fighting for food.


Just last week, we received a call from a friend who had made it to one of the top gyms in Bangkok who was not only fighting regularly on Channel 7, but was also nominated for fighter of the year in 2013.  He asked if he could come stay with us and if we could get him fights.  In some cases when fighters come back here ,they are not leaving their gyms on good terms, and for that reason I am withholding his name.  Fighting in Isaan, no fighter’s license is required.  You can fight often, but there is no opportunity to move up unless you are in good standing and have the paperwork ready.  As for my friend, hopefully he can tough it out in Bangkok, but if not, we are always here and always will be.


How To Prepare for a fight

Muay Thai Fighting Tips – How To Prepare for a fight

How To Warm Up & Mentally Prepare For A Muay Thai Fight

You get to the arena a few hours early, shake hands with a few people, and then you are guided to your locker room by the event staff. As you make your way to your locker room, that feeling really starts to really settle in.

You know that feeling I’m talking about, right?

The feeling of excitement, anxiety and nervousness all wrapped into one. The feeling that you’re about to test your physical and mental limitations in front of a roaring crowd. The feeling of relief because fight night is finally here!

Are you ready?

The Locker Room – Muay Thai Fighting Tips

The locker room before a fight is a very unique, one-of-a-kind place. After you’ve had a few fights, you begin to notice all the same familiar smells, noises and feelings.

You see your opponent and other fighters as they head to their respective locker rooms.
You smell the nostalgic aroma of thai oil as it’s massaged on every part of your body.
You hear the smack of thai pads as other fighters get loose for their fights.
You feel your heart beating a little bit faster as you get your hands wrapped by your kru.
You start envision and taste victory.

To ensure a glorious victory, there is a lot of hard work that goes into a fight camp. Obviously the weeks and months of sharpening your technique and improving your conditioning are super important, but the 30-45 minutes before you step into that ring is just as important as any single moment during your training camp.

If you are not warmed up properly before a fight you could:

  • Get injured since your muscles are still tight and lethargic.
  • Burn out and feel fatigued because you warmed up for too long.
  • Misjudge your opponents timing and attacks.
  • Overwhelm yourself with self-doubt and worry.

I assume you don’t want any of that to happen, right? Then follow these simple Muay Thai Fighting tips that will help you with your pre-fight preparation and get you physically and mentally ready for the fight of your life!

7  Muay Thai Fighting Tips For Pre-Fight Preparation

1. Practice your warm-up when you train

The warm-up you do before a training session should be almost identical to the warm-up you do before a fight. Not only will this help you get your body ready for the fight, but you won’t have to over think anything because you’ll be comfortable with the routine.

That being said, make sure your warm-up before a training session isn’t rushed and done mindlessly. If you plan on taking this sport seriously, you should plan on taking your warm-up seriously. Whether it’s skipping rope, shadowboxing, hitting the heavy bag, using the foam roller or whatever, it’s important to get your body loose, your mind focused, and your blood flowing.

It’s important to create a warm-up that gets you prepared for both a training session or a title fight. Every part of your body needs to be loose and ready for war. Once you get into a comfortable warm up routine, your body and mind will be a comfortable place and be more than ready for the intensity of a fight.

2. Find your “happy” place

Some people listen to music, while others sit in silence and meditate. Some people like to yell and scream to pump themselves up, while others like to laugh and relax with their team.

Whatever you do, find a way to keep your mind calm, relaxed and focused.

If you are one of the first fights on the card, then you won’t have as much time to relax. If you are one of the last fights, then you want to conserve your energy and only start to really get pumped up a couple fights before you’re on.

I’ve experimented and gone through many different stages of how I act before a fight. I’ve tried to laugh and be silly. I’ve tried being a complete dick and not talking to anyone. I’ve tried listening to Rocky music. I’ve tried a lot of shit.

After more than 20 fights, I’ve come to realize that as the fight gets closer and closer, I get quieter and quieter. I turn off all my emotion and just think about how I’m going to hurt my opponent. I don’t need any music. I don’t need anyone yelling in my face. I just need time to myself.

Just like with most things, being able to find your “happy” place will take plenty of experience before you truly begin to understand how your mind works before a fight. Be open-minded in terms of experimenting with different ways to psych yourself up before a fight, especially early on in you amateur career when you are still getting used to the fight scene.

3. Make it a routine

I find it very useful to have some type of routine whenever I fight. This stops me from thinking too much or worrying about what I have to do to get ready. If I have a set routine that I like and am comfortable with, I will be much more stress-free and focused when I make the walk to the ring.

Typically my warm-up routine looks something like this:

  • Get to the arena, find the locker room and put my stuff down.
  • Go to the ring, visualize the crowd around it and visualize my fight.
  • Walk back to the locker room and rest until the rules meeting.
  • After the rules meeting, listen to some music.
  • About 4 – 5 fights before, get my hands wrapped and signed off on.
  • Get my entire body massaged with thai liniment.
  • Start light shadowboxing and visualizing my game plan.
  • Hit thai pads lightly for 1-2 minute intervals with my trainer, with short 1-2 minute breaks.
  • With about 1-2 fights before my fight, pick up the intensity and power in my strikes. Mix in some light sparring and clinching with my kru or training partner to get a feel for the fight.
  • Put my mongkon on, stay loose by hopping around and shadowboxing, then make my way to the ring.

Now since I know what to expect before almost every fight, I don’t stress out nearly as much as I used to. I used go be anxious and amped up before I even got to the arena, but now, since I have a set routine, I’m much more in control of my thoughts and emotions than I was before.

4. Have knowledgeable, trustworthy cornermen

Having someone you know and trust in your corner can make the difference between winning and losing. Not only should they know the technical advice to give you between rounds, but they should also know how to get you zoned in during your warm up.

Talk through you game plan with your cornerman and let them know if you have any preference of how to be cornered (stand or sit between rounds, deep breaths before advice, motivational sayings etc.). It’s super important that you are on the same page as your cornermen, otherwise it can lead to confusion, anxiety and over thinking too much… which can be dangerous in the context of a fight.

Not only should your cornermen be on the same page as you, but they should know how to wrap your hands right too! I don’t know about you, but I punch a shit load, so having my hands wrapped properly is super important to me. Even if you’re not a heavy puncher, it’s vital to protect your hands so they don’t get injured.

5. Know what number you are fighting

Are you first or last?

If you are one of the first fights up, it’s important to get right into your routine pretty quickly. Make sure you keep in mind any intermissions and how long each of the fights are scheduled for. Also make sure to be prepared for any of the fights before you to end quickly!

If you are near the end of the card, relax. Maybe eat a banana and listen to some music, or talk with your team to keep your mind busy. Typically, I start to get ready about 4-5 fights before I’m on, but it’s up to you to find out what timing works best for you.

6. Be aware of your thoughts

Negative thoughts, self-doubt will pop up. It’s all good though!

I’m constantly thinking to myself “why did I sign up for this” or “no one is making you do this Sean”, but if those thoughts didn’t come across my mind, then I know something is wrong.

These thoughts are healthy and not abnormal by any means. The best way to deal with them is to be aware of them, but let them pass. Constantly be using positive self-talk and reminding yourself how much of a badass you are.

Remind yourself of how hard you worked to be where you are today.
Remind yourself that you put way too much time and effort to start doubting yourself now. Remind yourself, once you get in the ring, your training and instincts will take over.

Being in control of your mind is one of the most difficult things to do, especially when you’re about to step into the ring for a Muay Thai fight. Just remember, the only way to get better at dealing with these thoughts and emotions is with experience.

7. Make a list of stuff to pack

It can really fuck you up if you forget your cup or mouth guard, so don’t let it happen. Don’t be that guy who has to borrow someone else’s cup… that’s gross. To avoid this, make a list of everything you need for before and after the fight. Here is what I normally pack for fight night:

  • thai shorts (2 pairs because I need to make sure I’m matching whatever corner I’m in)
  • steel cup
  • mouthguard
  • thai liniment
  • extra pair of clothes for afterwards
  • phone, wallet, keys
  • headphones
  • snacks (trail mix, banana)
  • water
  • ibuprofen/aspirin

Also make sure that your corner is bringing the tape, gauze, scissors and all other necessary supplies to wrap up prior to stepping into the ring.

It might seem a lot goes into warming up before a fight… that’s because there is!

You have to be as prepared as possible is fight night, no excuses. If you half-ass your warm-up and go in the ring without a focused mind or loose body, chances are much more likely that you will get knocked the fuck out.

Like I said earlier, it takes time to get a solid warm-up routine down before you figure out what works best. If you are just starting out or still in your amateur career, it’s not the worst thing to experiment with different warm-ups and see what works best for you. Once you are further along your ammy career or become a pro, the last thing you’ll want to do is mess with your mojo.

Are you as obsessive about having a good warm-up before a fight as I am?

What other ways do you get physically and mentally prepared to step into the ring?


The Art of Muay Thai Pad Work

How NOT to Use Thai Pads…

The Art of Muay Thai Pad Work

One of my favorite parts of training has always been working on the Thai pads. It’s a great way to sharpen your skills, build up your cardio, and develop the relationship between coach and teammates. My greatest pet peeve is when you are working with a partner who doesn’t know how to properly hold the pads. You could have a world champion in front of you, but put them with someone who doesn’t know how to hold pads and they will look like a beginner. 

While on the pads, it’s important to flow with your partner and develop a cadence appropriate to their level of skill and conditioning. This can easily be observed when watching a fighter and their trainer practice. It can be an amazing sight to witness. The coach gradually warms up the fighter, then starts to increase the intensity and difficulty level of holding patterns as the rounds progress. Learning to hold the Thai pads properly allows you to develop important coaching skills that will only benefit you as your level of fluency in the art increases.

Below are several tips that will help you learn how to effectively hold the Thai pads. 

1. Keep it Simple

If you are new to holding pads, keep the combinations and strikes simple. Even if you are working with someone more advanced they will not benefit from advanced holding patterns that you don’t really know. Muay Thai is a simple art and pad holding should reflect that. Single strikes will help your partner much more than long, drawn out, complex combinations. Start with what you know and slowly link everything together as you get more comfortable holding.

2. Simulate the Intended Target

Always keep in mind that when holding pads you are simulating the role of your partner’s opponent. Pad holding has to mirror the intended targets one would normally strike at. If you are holding for a body kick, keep the pads right next to your ribs. If it’s a jab-cross, the pads should be right next to your face. By holding the pads in unrealistic places you end up training your partner for targets that aren’t real. You also subject yourself to possible injury. Just remember that when you hold it is your job to get the pads in the way of the oncoming strike. If your partner throws a kick to the ribs and your pads are way out in front of you, you’re eating that kick full force. Take it from me, it’s not a nice feeling.

3. Apply Pressure at the Point of Contact

Applying pressure at the point of contact is crucial to holding pads. It ensures that your partner gets a good workout, but it also prevents you, the holder, from getting injured. For example, if your partner is throwing a hook and you receive it with a relaxed arm, you’re going to tweak your elbow and possibly strain your shoulder. When the strike reaches the pads, tense your body and meet the strike with force. That being said, never reach for the strike, allow it to come to you. Reaching for the strike is sure way to get kicked in the ribs or punched in the face. Keep in mind that your partner is aiming for you not the pads. A great way of acclimating to holding pads is to start slow and light. Tell your partner to start off hitting lightly and slowly increase the power and speed. By the end of the first round you’ll both be adjusted to each other and can start crushing it.

4. Make it Real

As mentioned above, always remember that when holding pads, you assume the role of the opponent. Try to simulate a sparring session when holding pads but always remember to work at the level of your partner. Move around and throw strikes at your partner during the session. Doing this will benefit both parties. The holder observes the openings and flaws in the striker’s game, and the striker increases his defense and reaction time. Making a pad work session “real” will only help in building up the level of skill for both individuals.

5. Don’t Over-coach Your Partner

My second greatest pet peeve is when my partner tries to coach or correct me on every little movement I perform. It’s infuriating and a tremendous waste of training time. While on the pads you are supposed to be working and improving, not having a five-minute debate concerning the position of my left foot. Coaching tips and cues should be quick and to the point. People are going to make mistakes when doing any type of sport. Just do your best to deal with them in the most time efficient manner while working on the pads.  Everyone has a unique style of learning, so remember that some people will not get it right away. If your partner is doing something incorrect try to correct them a couple of times. If the problem persists, move on and address the issue later in the session. If your partner still can’t make the necessary corrections, notify your coach and have him or her deal with the problem.


Learn to be broken

Learn to be broken…

Breaking a fighter.
It’s a phrase you hear often in Muay Thai Boxing but what does it really mean?

Recently in sparring, I had a chance to think about this. I’d like to be all tough and say it was on my mind because my incredible dominating style broke my opponent’s will. But nope, it was me.
I broke…

I’ve only been at it for nearly a year now, and while I’m certainly not any sort of dangerous talent, I feel like I know my way around a little at this point.

After the end of training, we started our usual sparring session. By my third partner, one of which I hasten to add was our Kru Leigh Edlin. I was absolutely cream-crackered (knackered). There are reasons for this – I had been sick and been away on holiday so missed a few weeks of training – but the main reason is I’m still not at my best possible shape YET!. This has happened to me before – and I’m afraid, it’s the side effect of being a part time trainer. The thing is, in Muay Thai, when I’m tired I have enough strength that I can mostly still survive. I sort of know what I’m doing, and can deal with a more fit opponent while minimizing damage.

As I was trapped in a corner of the ring, when it came to me… this person is too good, too strong, too talented. And the the big one: I can’t stop him/her. That moment? That’s breaking – the realisation that you can not win!!

Of course, it’s not actually a “realisation” because that implies that it’s a verifiable fact. It’s not. You may not be winning now, and it may be quite difficult to win, but you can. And yet in the heat of the moment, it becomes a fact, and that’s what makes it so insidious and so dangerous.

From there, I bottled out from some sparring rounds but slogged through the last few minutes, and went home. And here’s where I was faced with a tough question – what now? Where do I go from here? I’ll admit, there was a large part of me that wanted to quit and be done. I’m in my very late 30s, never going to really fight (well maybe 😉 – how much further do I want to go with this?

But the next week, I dragged myself to the club. And you know what? It was excellent. I was back in my comfort zone, I felt good, I felt like I could do it. The moment of breaking will pass!!

But has it? Because it’s easy to feel confident when you are in your comfort zone. The real question about braking is what you do when someone pushes you out of that zone. And so far, that has not happened to me since… but it will?! And how will I respond the next time?

That’s a question I can’t answer. I can only hope that my experience will make me stronger for the next time. Maybe it will. Or maybe being broken is like being knocked out – the more it happens, the easier it is to happen again. I hope it’s the former, but fear it’s the latter. Time will tell. And either way, I will continually learn from my Kru & Club Members…

Many Thanks again to Leigh for helping me settle into the club and many thanks to all the club members, who have made me feel so welcome and have got me addicted to Muay Thai.!


Paul Stafford @Paul_Stafford
Chao Phraya Academy Member

I’d also like this opportunity to wish our Kru Leigh Edlin
in his forthcoming ISKA European Title Fight on Saturday 13th April More Info & Tickets HERE

Chok Dee Kru!!!