September 4, 2022

How Effective is Muay Thai in a Street Fight?

Muay Thai, like its namesake, originates from Thailand and countries in Asia such as Indonesia. Sometimes referred to as the “Art of the Eight Limbs,” Muay Thai uses a stunning symphony of kicks, blows, knees, and elbows with fluidity and elegance, ensuring the practitioner lands a lethal blow on an opponent. 

As a street fighting art Muay Thai utilizes knee strikes and chiefly kicking techniques to stun an opponent from a distance momentarily. It is all about finishing off an opponent with either one strike aimed at a vital part of the body or a flurry of movements that will either knock out an opponent or scare them away. Each attack aims to incapacitate the opponent, making it a deadly street fighting weapon. 

It has counter-attacks to a myriad of different martial arts, mainly BJJ, Boxing, and karate (to a certain degree). 

Muay Thai Techniques that Help in a Street Fight

Muay Thai is very kicking oriented, and it helps to finish opponents faster from a distance. The main principle is to strike your opponents hard enough and fast enough that they do not get a chance to either pin you to the ground or land a blow on you. 

Most of Muay Thai punches aim to keep the opponent at bay and then finish them off from a distance with a powerful, accurate kick. However, that does not mean Muay Thai punches aren’t strong or deadly enough. 

The jab is famous for hurting a person from a short distance while creating space for the other attacks to be executed, such as elbow strikes and knee strikes. The main aim of having punches in Muay thai is to form chains and sequences in which arms and legs create a vortex of lethal attacks. 

The Te Chiang is thought of as one of the fastest kicks performed under this martial art. This attack will ultimately damage the opponent’s lower ribs, inhibiting their breathing and effectively stunning them. Imagine executing this on a street thug who tries to harass you. This fast, 45 degree-angled kick is sure to disable them, giving you time to escape. 

Unique Martial Art Techniques: The Art of Street Fighting

The following list is for context as to the critical attacks in Muay Thai, which make it a powerful and deadly martial art to use in a street fight.

Elbow strikes

  • Sok klap – spinning elbow strike
  • Sok tong – smashing downward elbow strike

Knee Strikes

  • Khao chiang – Muay thai diagonal knee attack
  • Khao yao – muay thai knee bomb

These attacks are all aimed at hurting the opponent efficiently. In many circumstances, when these techniques were used effectively, knocked out opponents. The techniques mentioned are devastating to the body upon impact. Certain cases even reported that these techniques were enough to ‘cut’ the skin, causing ruptures. 

The elbow strikes and knee strikes are unique to Muay Thai because they capitalize on the knee and elbow area’s hardness. A knee or elbow attack is technically your bone striking someone else. Fractures can appear if such attacks are executed well, especially in a street fight where rules do not restrict the damage caused by such techniques. 

The Weakness of Muay Thai

Muay Thai as a sport is seen to be quite intense and in-your-face. Very few techniques involve a balanced and free-flow form of fighting. All the methods are developed to be lethal and quite dangerous. The attacks are all brutal, and very few of them involve parry attacks and dodging techniques.

It may not have the best grappling techniques, keeping it to be a go-to choice for fighters who want to stop any more blows from coming their way. This type of grappling incorporates fighters to lean on each other, after which they reassess the next course of action and restart a sequence of attacks to throw the rhythm off their opponents.  

However, traditional martial arts strengths cease when it comes to ground tackles and submission positions. As many of us know, MMA matches and street fights almost always involve a ground tackle or fighting on the ground after exhaustion from exchanging blows. 

As we see with the techniques, they involve hard surfaces and areas on the human body like the knee and the elbow. A single handy elbow strike or knee strike from a person is enough to knock out an individual. A fight is likely to get intense results like withdrawal of blood or severe bruising. 

Keeping this in mind, read the following comparison of Muay Thai with different Martial arts.

Muay Thai Vs. Key Martial Arts

Read the following sections – which are an in-depth analysis of Muay Thai versus other martial arts. The ones being addressed directly will be Boxing, BJJ, and Karate.

Muay Thai V. Boxing 

Muay Thai and boxing are similar because both sports use the hands for mainly striking other opponents to daze them, after which they knock them out. The only main obstacle boxing faces which Muay Thai doesn’t is more forms of attack. Muay Thai incorporates the use of kicks, a type of attack boxing does not use. Instead, boxing involves a lot of bobbing and weaving.

Since dodging is something Muay Thai practitioners rarely learn, sports like boxing teach their students to be more vigilant and to dodge incoming attacks and not just strike as hard and as fast as you can. 

With the benefit of kick attacks and knee blows, Muay Thai fighters can tackle boxing fighters and engage with them from a distance. Additionally, the kicks give Muay Thai fighters more leverage because, simply put, they are more powerful. 

Muay Thai V. BJJ 

A single submission might be enough to defeat Muay Thai. However, a Muay Thai fighter’s kicking and punching is known to hold a BJJ fighter at bay. It might even be strong enough to knock them out before the BJJ fighter gets close enough to do any damage. 

The untrained punches and futile kicks of a BJJ fighter will not even hurt a Muay Thai fighter’s strong muscles. In a street fight, without the protection provided by gloves, a Muay Thai fighter’s knuckles and fist are sure might injure a BJJ fighter. 

However, BJJ practitioners are said to be fighters who use the ground to their utmost advantage. Fighting a BJJ user as a muay Thai fighter will be a suicide attempt if the BJJ opponent manages to floor the Muay Thai practitioner.

Muay Thai V. Karate

Muay Thai and Karate are similar in terms of the parts of their bodies they can chiefly use, the main ones being elbow strikes, punching, kicking, and knee attacks. However, the distinction arises in their forms when striking and the way they execute their attacks. While the types of attacks may be similar, the techniques involved in them are different.

Karate has been known for ages as the perfect self-defense tool. A Karate practitioner’s gentle but brutal attacks leave an opponent knocked out within seconds in a street fight. Karate techniques are executed to make them swift and concise, leaving no room for the opponent to catch their breath. 

However, in Muay Thai, the type of attacks is made solely to create maximum impact. Some instances of Muay thai have left bones broken and gravely injured opponents on the ground. Evidenced by the Tadashi Sawamura v. Samarn Sor Adisorn, where Adisorn left Sawamura gravely wounded and defeated. Adisorn was a Muay Thai practitioner. 

How much time does it take to learn Muay Thai?

Like all fighting sports, learners have to first to train their bodies to ensure they can undertake the stress involved in carrying out Muay Thai techniques. If a student is interested enough, there should not be too much of a problem learning the basics.

Overall, one should know that Muay Thai is a relatively straight-forward martial art. The fundamentals can be mastered quickly by an individual within 3-6 months, depending on the student’s commitment. In addition to the before-mentioned, being knowledgeable about basics and having a solid base that you can use effectively in sparring could take 8-12 months for a complete beginner.


One should know the deadly sport of Muay Thai if their primary goal is to protect themselves in the street. It is one of the most lethal martial arts out there, boasting a range of useful and brutal fighting techniques, mainly kicking, elbow strikes, and knee strikes. 

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