Let us clear out this misconception as quickly as possible. Unlike various other martial art styles such as Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and Karate, Muay Thai holds no belt ranking system.
The concept of this Thai military-grade martial art was never for attaining higher rank but depended on pure survivability. A Muay Thai gym perceived ranks as the individual trainer’s ability to fight, learn, and the titles earned.
Muay Thai, although far from being a complex martial art, requires 7 years for proficiency and about 15 years to master. Within approximately 10 years, you can attain the “black belt” equivalent of Muay Thai ranking.
The Muay Thai approach encouraged everyone to join this combat sport to earn a living over investing time or money into a martial art style.
The common system was the armband, denoting good luck and protection, and in no way, showcased any rank system.
However, the colorful grading system saw its light in Muay Thai through the World Thai Boxing Association (WTBA). Through the WTBA, the USA introduced the concept of the colored rank system through the armband.
Each armband now had showcased an era of expertise and their combat system.
The colors (armband) till the present times are as follows:
- Black & White
- Black & Red
- Black & Silver
- Black & Gold
Here, under the WTBA:
Lastly, Teacher or Trainer Levels
- Black & White
- Black & Red
- Black & Silver
- Black & Gold
While Muay Thai discourages the utility of ranks for demeaning starting trainees, the approach makes sure to boost every rank holder’s confidence to aim for the higher rank.
Not to forget, The WTBA makes sure to conduct rank-examinations before handing over the next armband to a practitioner.
These armbands are known as Prajiads, the Muay Thai system based on their colors.
All About Muay Thai Westernized Format
The learning and training process depends upon a ranking system that exists post-1970s, and outside of Thailand.
The westernized formats are followed in various well-known gyms and dojo ranking systems, such as:
Although not the authentic Muay Thai, Bang Muay can pack a punch in real-life street fights.
Bang Muay follows the colored ranking system with vibrant shorts and armbands (Prajiads) to denote a fighter’s expertise.
Bang Muay follows a more modified version of Muay Thai approach-base, shaping up rhythmic movements, quick footwork, and MMA-approved fighting techniques.
The USA’s grading system plays a focal role in Bang Muay, allowing schools to encourage all students to polish their skills for the improved fighting experience.
Bang Muay disregards Muay Thai 0-grading system to imbibe a sense of competitive learning over pure-practice sessions.
WTBA (World Thai Boxing Association)
This would be the 2nd well-known internally acclaimed Muay Thai ranking system, which unlike Bang Muay, strives to uphold the traditional beauty of Muay Thai.
The Conflicts in Using Muay Thai Ranking System
Those who swear by the concept of traditional Muay Thai approach find it difficult to accept the ranking process as it strips away age-old principles.
Their theories on the arm-band and shorts implementation base itself on the monetary benefits one school can receive from students’ money.
However on the flip side, many believe that the system that adds ranking to authentic martial art is helping the practitioner’s face an aim and strive to complete it.
By doing so, learners can clear difficult training sessions by knowing which move can benefit their color-coded ranking assessment.
The New Curriculum’s Benefits
Muay Thai’s original perception can repel various enthusiasts due to its aggressiveness and deadliness. However, the Westernized Muay Thai training helps ease the fear and learn through a more player-safe yet menacing offensive move.
Hence, Muay Thai in modern times comes with multiple benefits such as:
Improving Physical Fitness
The Westernized concept has made sure to maintain various traditional approaches such as the “Art of 8 Limbs”
Now the approach is geared towards utilizing your whole body during the combat. So much so that you might seem like a human weapon.
The 8 limbs, of course, are knuckles. elbows. knees and feet. During a practice or tournament match, a Nak Muay can block or attack with their elbows, while also dis-balancing the enemy with the same.
You can also improve the amount of hard work out into the practices. By doing this, you will find your mental fitness and health regain energy enough to attack and block all at once. The lack of multiple rules which makes it easier to attack without any hassles.
Muay That aims towards peak physical performance and maintains strict training sessions for a lean and strong body.
With daily practice, you will notice an adrenaline and serotonin boost that can improve your heart and mental health for the better.
Moreover, a busy and engaged mind can keep away mental problems at bay. Physical activities can help you fall asleep. And a full-body rest can help you become more able and alert.
Working Wonder on Health
Martial arts and health go hand in hand. And fighting techniques require more than that of physical fitness, i.e. all-over good health.
The present-day arm-bands and headbands system helps a practitioner understand their physical status and position as a Nak Muay. Hence, they can schedule their practice sessions to hone skills further.
You can rest easy, knowing that Muay Thai helps shape up a body with good health and physique. This martial art can aid in shedding off excess fat and maintain strength and flexibility.
Such flexibility-requirement would include hip movements and freestyle strikes. As most of the attacks are aimed towards the opponent’s guts or thighs, hip movement is crucial for kicks and constant mobility.
Muay Thai helps in providing enough workout-based practice sessions to promote a healthy body, inside and out. It plays a vital part in improving core muscles and strength.
These would be abdominal and back muscles, which aid in both flexibility and lethal strikes. Moreover, the fortified core muscles can withstand a flurry of attacks.
With a strong body and a ready mind in action, a Nak Muay can confidently dish out the most lethal strikes with precision and ease.
Best Bone Health
Any age would be the right age to begin your training. Of course, make sure to choose the timing where your bone health requires proper care.
Muay Thai is a combat-sport-based MMA, where physical strength, energy, and health are vital for the best in-ring and real-life brawling.
And as we know, bone health can deteriorate with age. The modernized Muay Thai tactics follow the basic rules of kick-boxing to improve its approach towards swifter and steadier attacks.
When you begin your training at a younger age, there is a guarantee of maintaining healthy bones later on in life due to overall fitness.
As a striking art, a Nak Muay nowadays can choose to practice their strikes on sand-bags, thereby improving their hand-eye coordination.
The right workouts and practice sessions, alongside a healthy calcium+protein-rich diet, can bring out the best in a Nak Muay.
Muay Thai kickboxing tactics focus on agility and swiftness, helping the practitioners train exclusively on tactics requiring these, over purely physical strength-based wrestling moves.
Rather, a Nak Muay can incorporate several light-weight workouts such as jogging and crunches to maintain flexibility.
How Quickly Can You Progress to the Next Belt?
Hard work and constant practice can help you get belt promotions quickly, in at least 3 months.
Of course, this depends on the trainer’s observation of your overall progress, helping them decide your readiness for the next level.
Here, the arm-bands or Prajiads act as the progress meter and have nothing to do with the trainee’s rank. These bands remind the trainee on the journey that has been made, and the one left to achieve.
The band acts as a deeper connection between the trainer and the trainee, securing an understanding for years to come.
The curriculum in Muay Thai allows for color variation in the arm-bands, differing from one school to another. For example, the Thai government and the International Muay Thai Federation (IMTF) wishes to introduce 20+ shades of arm-bands for various levels of global training purposes.
The ranks will divide among the beginners, the advanced and the instructors, with special inclusion of grandmasters and masters for exclusive training sessions.
Such steps are helping martial art reach new heights and popularise its traditional base through modern improvements.
By doing so, there are chances of a reduction in the misinterpretation of the modern Muay Thai belt system existing as a money-grabbing machine.
The ranking system in Muay Thai varies in its progress. Unlike various other martial arts such as Karate or BJJ, Muay Thai belt progress depends on your past fighting experiences, the number of fighting engagements, match outcomes, and more.
Regular training and practice fights are among the most suggested methods of attaining ranks quicker to receive the black belt. Although it is but a black arm-band, its importance in the martial arts world goes beyond traditions.