If you are reading this page you certainly must know what Muay Thai is, and that it is by far the most popular striking art used in MMA. You might also know that Muay Thai was also the dominant striking style in K1 matches. What you may not know is that there are actually two types of Muay Thai.
“Traditional” Muay Thai is a ring art derived from the ancient Battlefield art of Muay Boran. Traditional Muay Thai fighters emphasize kicking over hand strikes and usually fight using limited mobility, preferring to stand in front of the opponent trading shots, especially kicks, or alternatively tying the opponent up in the clinch. Boxing punches are not emphasized in traditional Muay Thai because they are awarded few points. Using evasive footwork and ducking are considered to be “cowardly” and could actually result in a loss of points.
Traditional fighters are known for having very powerful and effective kicks and for their effective clinch work. The pace of traditional bouts is also slower than boxing or kickboxing contests as traditional fighters seem to spend a large part of the match trading kicks in a somewhat leisurely pace. The best example of a traditional Muay Thai fighter is Bukaw.
“Dutch” style Muay Thai is actually a combination of Traditional Muay Thai, Western Boxing, and Kyokushinkai Karate. Dutch style adds high level boxing techniques, combinations, and slick evasive footwork. A dutch fighter is likely to use combinations of punches followed by low kicks. These low kicks tend to have a downward trajectory and are combined with a dropping of weight, which enables them to be used at a very close range and to be combined with a barrage of punches. Best examples of Dutch style are the late Ramon Dekker (AKA “the diamond”) and Ernesto Hoost, featured in the highlight video above.
If you look at Hoost, known as “Mr. Pefect”, you will see that, although he has awesome head kicks and knees, he is most effective combining whirlwind boxing punches with devastating low kicks. Towards the end of the video he is shown knocking out huge opponents with leg kicks (effective because many of these huge guys never conditioned their legs to take this kind of punishment) and also knocking Mirko Cro Cop out with a body shot!
There are some similarities between Muay Thai and Wing Chun which create the possibility of combining the two Arts. Some Muay Thai fighters use a similar stance, an upright stance which is square to the opponent with most of the weight on the back leg. The knee strikes and elbow strikes are almost identical, except that Muay Thai adds some techniques, such as flying knees, the flying elbow, spinning elbow, and uppercut elbow, which Wing Chun considers to be over daring.
Muai Thai also includes a fairly small repertoire of very effective throws and sweeps, which are usually used in the clinch or after catching a kick. The video below is a compilation of some of the best executions of these techniques.