By its very nature, Muay Thai is a rather bloody, violent, and brutal sport. Traditional Thai boxing differs from other martial arts due to its focus more on offense and less on defense. That’s why Thai fighters go through rigorous training to become “harder” and have better conditioning.
So, how do Muay Thai fighters have so many fights? Thais have a very clever but intensive approach to their training. Fighters grow up in arduous conditions, and their physical fitness is such that it allows them to fight every month from a young age. These facts permit the fighters to reach many fights before they move to big stadiums.
We all wondered what was behind the endurance of Thai fighters and their ability to rack up triple-digit fights. We can certainly reveal that secret if we ignore the big picture and look into the details of their lives, history, how they approach their training, how they fight, and why they fight.
The Secret Behind A Large Number Of Thai Fighters’ Fights
If you have ever watched a Muay Thai fight, you could have seen that there is very little movement. The fighters stand opposite each other and do not hesitate to exchange blows and engage in a merciless clinch. Their ability to absorb punishment and damage is incredible, which speaks volumes about their fights and them as fighters.
The Origin Of Muay Thai Toughness
For a better understanding of their toughness, effectiveness in combat, and the enviable number of matches, one should take a peek at their history. Muay Thai is a national sport, and since the 13th century, it has been deeply marked in their culture.
Legend has it that, after the Burmese occupation, many Thai warriors were imprisoned. One of them was Nai Khanomtom. This man defeated 9 Burmese soldiers in hand-to-hand combat, one after the other, in front of their king. He used the fighting methods of the Eight Limbs to defeat his opponents.
Thus he earned his freedom and the freedom of his comrades. Thais are the most battle-tested fighters in the world, which is the answer to the question about their experience. This discipline was developed for self-defense in case a warrior lost his weapon on the battlefield.
Muay Thai has become a sport that was practiced outside the army. During peacetime, the fighters were trained to master the technique and stay in shape. In those times, there were no rules and no referees, so people fought each other until one was left standing. In 1900 Muay Thai entered its golden era, and Thai fighters were taught to fight in the ring with protective equipment.
Thais Train From A Young Age
Children in Thailand don’t have much time to grow up without being exposed to Thai traditions. Despite the Thai law that does not allow children to fight, approximately 200,000 children practice Thai boxing and perform on weekends, regardless of whether they are boys or girls.
From a young age, the training of other compatriots catches their eye, and that’s where the desire to fight is born. It is true to say that as soon as they can walk, little Thais put gloves on their hands. They are usually born into a family of fighters, and at the age of five, they are already spending time in the gym.
At the age of six, they are already working on pads and bags, and at the age of eight, they are already sparring and fighting at smaller events against their peers. Their goal is that by the age of 15, you will already have a hundred fights and enough experience to be able to perform in big stadiums. Because if you start training at the age of 15, it’s too late in their culture. Besides fighting from an early age, they compete every month.
Children Participate In Fights For Financial Reasons
Kids who fight at local events get paid and see practicing Muay Thai and matches as their regular job. For them, it is a great way to support their families financially. Some of them are living in poverty. After one fight, boys and girls can earn what their parents would earn in a year working in the rice fields.
It is their way to afford to pay rent, family bills, and food. Fighters need to bring money to their village, gym, and trainers. They were taught to fight in matches from a young age, which is one of the main reasons for their rich scores.
Children Train For Cultural Reasons
Muay Thai is their style and way of life, and because of that, money is not the only reason they train and compete. For cultural reasons, parents push their children into Muay Thai even though it may seem harsh to Western cultures.
They protect the pride and reputation of their family and the gym where they train. Everyone who knows the fighter fighting at the event will be in the audience to watch the match. This atmosphere creates a special feeling for the child as a fighter and the family watching him from the crowd. Each of them dreams of being spotted by a promoter and creating a rich life in Bangkok. After all, it is in their DNA.
Intensive Training In Muay Thai
Realistically speaking, all martial arts have tough training. Still, Muay Thai’s intensity is a story for itself, which is the main answer to their readiness. Fortunately for them, trainers and gyms are around every corner. Thai fighters train six days a week twice a day, usually for more than two hours.
They use old and simple methods. Thai people have the same training schedules, regardless of age and whether they are amateurs or professionals. Overtraining is an unknown concept for Thai fighters. Any reason for “not being able to train,” whether it’s fatigue or injury, is classified as “laziness.”
Therefore, it should be mentioned that many Thai fighters are burned out by the age of 21 and have to retire from the scene. Only elite fighters remain active. Regardless of their toughness, that makes them human, after all.
Their morning starts with a three to five-mile run daily as a prelude to morning workouts. Running up hills, jumping ropes, sprints, and shadowboxing are also cardio exercises and good for footwork. Of course, running every morning, especially from a young age, drastically improves their cardiovascular performance. Over time, they get used to it, and it becomes their daily routine.
Improving The Technique Of The Eight Limbs
The first and second sessions of the day consist of working on technique, on which great emphasis is placed. Each of the eight weapons needs to be put in order as well as possible. This is something that separates muay thai from other combat sports.
The morning training mainly consists of hitting the pads with the trainer and hitting the heavy bag. In the second, technically intensive training, the fighters do various forms of sparring and work in the clinch. Their training process, as far as technique is concerned, consists of repeating the basics to establish them as well as possible. They keep it simple, so they don’t train anything that won’t pass in combat. All the limbs need to be razor-sharp for their efficient performance.
For all that is known about the brutality of muay thai, it is ironic to say that Thai sparring is quite moderate. On the other hand, it is also logical because Thai fighters practice flow sparring. That does not mean they don’t hit each other hard, but they have enough control over their shots.
More punch control means less head trauma, and less trauma means a potentially longer career and more fights in the future. Their heavy conditioning creates a high pain tolerance, so they can afford playful sparring. That is for sure one of the significant secret ingredients for their longevity.
Participating in a Muay Thai match or surviving rough training without first going through intense physical conditioning would be impossible. Every good coach knows that one must be conditioned to survive the battle.
Their abdominal muscles must be strong enough to withstand violent blows from the knees and legs. Also, shins should lose sensitive nerves. It helps with blocking kicks and throwing them without much unpleasant pain.
That’s why Thai fighters have many repetitions behind them when it comes to kicking the heavy bag. Thai fighters can hang on the bag for up to five minutes doing sit-ups while receiving punches to the abdominal muscles to strengthen them. Training in Thailand, the motherland of this sport, has much greater benefits than anywhere else in the world. It allows rapid advancement in fitness and technical terms.
Training At High Temperatures
Thailand is known for its subtropical climate and the fact that a large part of the year has high temperatures. During the hottest part of the day, the temperature reaches 105°F(40° C). Even the winter periods are not merciful, where the temperature rises to 86°F(30°C)
Training in hot conditions stresses your body, especially as a native. Train twice a day in those temperatures. Studies have shown that it has its benefits, such as increasing cardiovascular performance and developing the body’s tolerance to extreme conditions. As if hard and frequent training is not enough, physical preparations at high temperatures are another kind of conditioning.
Brutal Sport And Safe Rules
The scoring system in Thai boxing is different from other combat sports. Still, it is much more grateful for the safety of the fighter’s head. For example, a dominant clinch is scored more than clean punches to the head. Unless, of course, the result of the blow is a knockdown.
For this reason, Thai fighters do not have significant destructive power in their hands, and they are more dedicated to clinching, sweeping, and throwing kicks. As violent and bloody a sport is, fighters have fewer opportunities to suffer more damaging and long-term head injuries, unlike boxers, for example. That adds the possibility of returning to training and the ring sooner.
How Much Money Do Thai Fighters Make?
In Thailand, even as an amateur, you can earn money. Everything depends on their skill and the level of popularity and promotion they are fighting for. An average fighter in Thailand can earn between 10,000 and 15,000 baht after a fight, which is $300 to $400.
Also, one of the ways of making money in Thailand is gambling on fights. Smart fighters can earn a lot more if they bet on themselves. Participating in big stadiums like Lumpinee and Rajadamnern, especially if the champions are involved, their figures can fetch up to 60,000 baht, which is equal to 1800$.
It is also necessary to mention that 30% of a fighter’s earnings go to the trainer and the gym they come from.
How Many Fights Do Thais Need To Go Pro In Muay Thai?
Amateur fighters in Thailand have at least 20 amateur fights before turning professional. They get paid anyway because, according to Thai customs, it is shameful not to get paid for your fight.
All smart trainers know that a fighter must gather enough experience and learn from his mistakes that can cost him dearly in professional waters. Just by entering as a professional, decent skill and experience are expected from the fighter.
There is never enough amateur testing because it is a way for fighters to build solid and safe foundations. A fighter’s record always spoke volumes about the fighter.
For fighters to be frequent and effective on the violent battlefield of Thai boxing, they must be in maximum fighting shape. Professionals who train muay thai are at the peak of their physical fitness and train for four to six hours daily. Frequent and strong training, high temperatures, and ruthless conditioning are all factors in their longevity.
Saving the family from poverty and chasing glory to become the superstars of Thailand is the motivation of every young fighter. As rigorous and foreign as it may sound, it is Thai culture, history, and way of life. That is why the Thais are one of the most prepared martial artists in the world and are characterized by their incredible endurance. To be a fighter, they have to live every day as one. Their brutally acquired physical fitness makes them tough outside and on the battlefield.