The Health Benefits of Training Muay Thai Kickboxing
Muay Thai developed from different styles of unarmed combat during the period of the 15th and 16th centuries, in the region from India through much of the Far East. It is now one of the main parts of Mixed Martial Arts, or MMA, popular today. Its roots go back to the 16th century in Thailand, where it was used in actual combat as well as in military training. During times of relative peacetime, it was practiced as a means of physical exercise, recreation and personal development, as well as self-defense.
As are most other forms of MMA, Muay Thai is considered a form of unarmed combat, which is, using the whole body as a weapon, to strike your opponent, and defend yourself. Muay is sometimes called the “Art of Eight Limbs” as well as, the “Science of Eight Limbs” because it uses eight points of contact, the hands, elbows, knees, and feet. This is in contrast to “two points” in boxing, and “four points” in other combat sports, such as savate and kickboxing.
The organization of Muay came during the 19th century, when peacetime moved the military use of the skills, to a sport. Beginning in 1925, King Rama VII worked to introduce changes, with international rules and competition. In 1993, the International Federation of Muay Thai Amateur came into being with 128 member countries. In 1995, the World Muay Thai Council was founded and later that year the two groups merged, forming the World Muay Thai Federation and has over 70 member countries. The Muay Thai International Association in Bangkok, Thailand is now one of the most prestigious Muay Thai Associations in the World.
Muay Thai, like most martial arts, uses a system of teachers, or masters, and schools that select students, who then become part of the “family,” often taking the name of the school as their surname, and devoting themselves to the teacher. Thus begins a long, and rigorous, training and conditioning program to learn the physical and mental discipline necessary to achieve competence.
Technique – Both offensive and defensive techniques are taught and developed in Muay Thai, with each technique consisting of many additional moves.
Offensive techniques consist of:
- Clinch and neck wrestling
Defensive techniques consist of:
Muay Thai requires excellent body conditioning, and it focuses to promote toughness and fitness for competition in the ring. The conditioning continues daily, with exercises to promote body strength, and sparing, to train the body and mind to react as one. Such a training schedule is required, as many fighters go into the ring on a weekly basis, often to help support their families.
Professional Fighters and Trainers – in addition to those, choosing Muay training for the physical benefits, some, both men, and women, continue into the professional arena, either as fighters, or trainers. As this training is lifelong, both trainers, and facilities, will continue to be needed into the future.
Benefits of Muay Thai Training – The main noticeable result of Muay Thai training is the excellent body conditioning and lean body structure that you gain. All parts of the body are used during training, from the head and neck, through the shoulders, arms, elbows, and hands, continuing through the torso, waist, and hips, and ending with the thighs, knees, shins, and feet. In addition, the heart and lungs are developed to endure long and hard sessions of training. This type of training is not limited to men, but is being used, and enjoyed, by many women, both in the gym, and at home.
Many are attracted to Muay training because it is not repetitive, do ten of these, then ten of those. The constant movement is an ideal cardio exercise, building endurance, as well as muscle tone. As a plus, the workout can be easily varied to keep the trainee from becoming bored, but also staying sharp to follow the changes of routine as they come.
Getting Specific - Up Until now, we have had a rather sporadic look of Muay Thai from the early conception of the techniques, to the present day practice of the training by both professionals, and armature. We will now look at the benefits in a more specific manner.
Body Conditioning – The greatest advantage of Muay Thai training is the complete use of many of the muscle groups. The constant moving, turning, and twisting, develops the related muscles to survive the trips and strains we face every day. Ordinary people might sustain minor injuries from such missteps, but a trained body is prepared to possibly deflect the oncoming impact, and if not, to survive it without any affect. With the addition of body weight resistance, such as squats, pushups and pull-ups, the body quickly develops muscle strength. Even if no muscle growth occurred, the improvement of muscle tone alone would be a plus. Following this daily exercise will burn fat and begin to sculpt a more lean and defined body. As the fat burns away, the flab will begin to draw tighter and be filled out with muscle.
What Muscles Need – Muscles need three basic elements to properly function, blood, oxygen, and nutrients. These elements need to be in proportion, and of good quality for this function to occur. If we ignore any of the three, we deprive the muscles of a critical element, and their function will be diminished.
How Muscles Use These Three Elements – The skeletal muscles we are developing through Muay Thai training, operate in pairs, and only work in contraction, that is, they don’t push anything, they only pull.
The science of physics tells us that we need energy to produce motion, and that energy may be supplied by a steam engine, a water wheel, an internal combustion engine, or, a muscle. A muscle produces energy by using oxygen to convert sugars into energy. That energy is then used pull muscles as directed by the brain, through the nerves.
Blood – Blood might be thought of as a vehicle. Its function is to carry oxygen and nutrients throughout the body, and for our discussion, to the muscles. Blood is pumped throughout the body by the heart, itself, a muscle.
Oxygen – When the diaphragm contracts, it causes the lungs to draw in air, extract oxygen from the air, and pass the oxygen on to the blood. This oxygen is used throughout the body to feed and nourish the body.
Nutrients – Nutrients are normally ingested as food, using the digestive system to convert food into products that are useful by the body, and expels the rest as waste. Without nutrients, the muscles have nothing to convert into energy.
The purpose of Muay training is to increase our blood supply, our oxygen supply, and improve the quality of the nutrients taken into our body. In addition, this training sharpens the mind and nerves to act and react more quickly.
Increasing Your Lung Capacity – Getting oxygen into the blood is the purpose of the lungs, so increasing the capacity of the lungs is important. This can start with simple breathing exercises, learning to expel all the air from our lungs, and learning how to take in more air, or, out with the old air, in with the new air. As you improve your lung function, you will make more oxygen available for the blood to take on as it passes through the lungs.
Increasing Your Heart Capacity – Getting your heart rate up is the purpose of most exercise. The increased heart rate means more blood is being pumped through the lungs where it extracts the oxygen. The combined improvement of your lungs and heart mean that your muscles have more of the needed oxygen and nutrients required to function and build.
Improving Your Nutrient Intake – All the training will fall short of your expectation if you neglect proper nutrition. Even for simply good health, you should select foods that present a proper and balanced diet.
The benefits of Muay Thai training are many. Your overall health will be improved by the regular exercise. Your body will become more lean and firm, as you burn off the fat and build muscle. Your general feeling of well-being will increase, and your mind will gain alertness.
You will find new energy as your stamina and endurance improves, and you will probably find more snap in your step, lasting throughout the day, and not hitting the wall by mid afternoon. Your body will become more limber and agile, being able to bend over, move, and perform your daily routine with less bother.
Your attitude and outlook on life will improve, even as your mind and body. Your desire to get more out of life will increase as you find your ability to enjoy life increases. You will look younger, and act younger, because you have regained some of the body you lost through neglect over the past years.
Other people around you will begin to notice a new and improved version of the old you. They will notice that a new sense of discipline and purpose has come into your life. You will no longer portray a person stuck in a rut with nowhere to go. You will stand straighter, walk more lightly, shake hands more firmly, and have the face of a secure and happy person.
As you continue through life, you will become a person to be looked up to, a person to follow. No longer a person to be avoided or ignored, you will be sought out and related to as a leader. Much of this, if not all, will be because you submitted yourself to a discipline of mind and body, allowing yourself to become the entire person that you can be.
Make sure you look for a certified muay thai academy that can guide you to reaching your goals. Peak Performance Muay Thai is the only MTIA certified academy in Keller, Watauga, Southlake, Fort Worth, Roanoke and Haslet. Give us a call at 817-614-9325 to get started training today.