When it comes to combat striking sports, Muay Thai is the most effective striking sport. This can be attributed to many factors which we will address in this article.
1) Muay Thai uses a full range of striking weapons including fists, elbows, legs and knees. In the historical past it also allowed head butting although that is illegal in matches these days. No other striking sport allows this number of striking weapons. In addition, Muay Thai training concentrates on developing speed, economy of motion and power making them extremely efficient in inflicting damage on an opponent.
2) In Muay Thai training the striking tactics cover all the fight ranges, except ground-fighting, including the long and medium ranges used in kicking and punching ranges into the closer ranges of knees and elbows. It also includes the clinching range in which it allows throws and striking with knees and elbows. Once again Muay Thai stands out from all other striking sports in the ranges of combat covered.
3) The striking tactics that are used to deliver the weapons are many and allow the exponent to strike from many different angles with speed and power, continually keeping his opponent off balance.
4) In competition Muay Thai has few restrictions on target areas as do other striking combat sports. As an example in most combat sports kicks to the groin are a foul strike. In Thailand only knees to the groin are illegal with kicks getting an eight count to allow recovery! The reasoning being that the receiver should have been able to defend the kick given the distance consideration. Thai Boxers also wear metal groin cups which deters blatant attacks due to potential foot damage.
5) Another factor that makes Muay Thai training extremely effective and by far the most effective striking sport, when compared with its contemporaries, is that it has been continually tested with competition for hundreds of years. This has brought about continual refinement and meant that it has developed its striking tactics to be as fast and powerful as can be. The continual testing under combat conditions between highly skilled exponents has meant that all phases of the sport have developed to very high levels.
6) A brief analytic comparison of sports that we could compare Muay thai with, would be boxing, karate, western style kick-boxing and Savate.
Boxing is a very skilled hand combat striking sport but very limited in the number of weapons and thus the ranges that are used. In addition clinching is frowned on and continually broken up with no throwing and if we compare the number of weapons boxing only has two (both hands) compared with eight in Muay Thai (fists, elbows, legs and knees) + clinching and throwing.
Western kickboxing developed in the USA in the 70s was basically just karate kicking with boxing punches. It never developed the same economy of motion in its kicking as Muay Thai has done. Although the boxing punches were effective the use of elbows was rare in competition as was the use of knees. Clinching was again not permitted to any effective level and was constantly broken up. In addition padding was required on the legs greatly reducing the effectiveness of kicks.
Savate does not permit the use of knees or kicks below the waist, the use of the shin for kicking and the use of elbow strikes is also illegal.
Other striking sports that may be put into consideration would be full contact Karate matches. These matches are held within a very tight set of rules that helps make them work and the methodology used in striking is often very telegraphic. They have very poor mobility and understanding of real fight movement and power.
Tae Kwon Do, a Korean martial art that has been accepted as an Olympic sport, gives us an example of what sport karate is essentially about. One only has to watch the matches to see how ineffective the power of their kicking really is when compared to Muay Thai. Again they are bound by numerous rules and points are given just for striking the targets, most of these strikes wouldn't even cause a Thai boxer to flinch.
When we take the facts, outlined in this article, we can only conclude that overall Muay Thai is the most effective striking sport.
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