Muay Thai has become very popular world wide because it has become the most common striking art used in MMA and millions of people have seen its effectiveness on television or youtube.
Even before the first UFC fights, Muay Thai had already gained a reputation as being the gold standard of striking based Martial Arts. Very few styles were willing to send fighters to fight against the Thais in Thailand. Those that did rarely agreed to fight using full Thai rules which included knees and elbows. The few fighters that were willing to fight the Thais under full Thai rules almost always lost.
Muay Thai is the best martial art for self defense if you are willing to go hard core
Muay Thai is a striking art that uses punches, kicks, elbows, and knees. There is no ground fighting, and most throws are against the rules. The rules do allow clinching in combination with hand, knee, and elbow strikes. Kicks to the groin are not allowed.
Muay Thai is considered to be one of the most brutal martial arts
Although boxing gloves are worn in the ring, muay thai kicks using a well conditioned shin, powerful knee strikes, and vicious elbows are all allowed against highly vulnerable targets, and bouts often result in serious injuries. Deaths are also more common than in other combative sports.
Muay Thai has been used in self-defense situations and in military combat
Muay Thai is actually a somewhat watered down version of Muay Boran, which was designed and used for military combat. Since its popularization in MMA many people world wide have used it to good effect in self defense.
Some untrained people or people who have had some training in other arts have been foolish enough to challenge Muay Thai fighters or retired fighters who became coaches. The Muay thai fighters and coaches pretty only much accepted these challenges when they were drunk, but mostly finished the amateurs off quickly and easily.
Muay Thai is known for its aggressive and powerful techniques
Although the boxing seen in Muay Thai is usually not up to the standard of good professional boxers or even very good amateur boxers, it is decent and is supplemented by tremendously powerful kicks and knees. Muay Thai elbow techniques are particularly vicious and dangerous, so dangerous that Muay Thai fighters generally don’t use them in sparring, saving them for actual ring contests.
Muay Thai is considered a very efficient way to disable or even kill an opponent
The Muay Thai roundhouse kick is one of the mot powerful kicks on the planet and can chop even the biggest and strongest attackers down by taking out their legs, can break arms, and has a very high knockout ratio if it lands on the neck or head. Elbow strikes can cause huge cuts to the face, and can even kill.
Muay Thai training is often grueling and intense, pushing practitioners to their limits
In Thailand poor boys start training for the ring at a very early age, sometimes as early as ages 4 or 5. A fighter’s career can easily consist of over 200 fights, but due to injuries, they usually retire by their early or mid twenties. In order to compete or even survive in this crucible, they must be willing to undergo the most intense training and conditioning.
Most people in the US who sign up for a legitimate Muay Thai gym with a legitimate instructor can barely get through the 10 minute warm up which is performed at the beginning of each class, and quit after one or two classes.
Muay Thai techniques are designed to inflict maximum damage to the opponent
Leg kicks are directed at portions of the thigh and calf that contain nerves that are close to the surface and vulnerable. Body and head kicks are delivered with an exaggerated torquing of the whole body for maximum force and can easily break arms, ribs, and cause serious concussions.
Muay Thai is often used as a form of physical and mental conditioning
Thai fighters are known for being in tremendous physical condition and are fierce and relentless fighters. In one famous match between a Thai fighter and Duke Roufus, one of the best full contact kick boxers of his time, Roufus dropped the Thai fighter with a punch that broke his jaw.
The Thai fighter was saved by the bell and went on to win the match by covering his head with a tight guard and using only brutal leg kicks. After a round or so of this, Roufus was unable to continue. Both fighters were taken to the hospital after the fight.
Muay Thai training can improve strength, speed, agility, and stamina
Muay Thai training is very modern and similar to that used by professional boxers. The training uses pad work, heavy bags, speed bags, footwork drills, timing drills, flexibility drills, and sparring.