Myth - Muay Thai Fighters kick trees.
Fact -
it is true that in the past students of Muay Thai (Nak Muay) used to kick trees before the invention of punch bags and kick pads. These tree's are banana trees, a very fibrous soft tree, which are softer than most punch bags found at training camps in Thailand. It is a myth however that Nak Muay only used to practice the roundhouse kick on the tree's, as all forms of their weapons, the knee, elbow, punch and front kick where exercised on the trunk and hanging leaves of the tree. Also the Nak Muay would climb up a coconut tree, by holding on to the tree with their stretched arms. In this way they would develop their arm, shoulder, back, and leg muscles.

Myth - Muay Thai Fighters used to punch coconuts.
Fact -
it is true that in the past Nak Muay used to punch coconuts before the invention of floor to ceiling balls and focus mitts. The coconuts where used in the sea or local river as a moving target that had little resistance to contact, so was constantly on the move. The coconuts would also be held in place so that strong knees and elbows could be delivered and practiced to strengthen the Nak Muay weapon's. To also help with coordination, Nak Muay would hang several limes from tree's and practice hitting each one in turn, and as they swung to and fro, they would bob and weave, in and out whilst delivering elbows, punches and practicing their guard.

Myth - Muay Thai Fighters splash river water in their eyes.
Fact -
it is true that Nak Muay used to splash river water in their eyes. The idea was to get the Nak Muay used to not blinking when fighting and not hesitating when sweat would go into their eyes. It may seem strange that they would do this, but it was common practice to bath in the local rivers, even now a days some Thai's still bath in the rivers as they did several hundred years ago. This very same thing is still practiced by some institutes and practitioners of the old ways of Muay Thai, but with clean water in a clean small basin. Nak Muay would also swim and jog in knee-high river, lake and sea water to build stamina and strength in their bodies.

Myth -Muay Thai Fighters deaden the nerves in their shins by rolling a glass bottle up and down on their legs.
Fact -
this is completely false and should not be practiced by anyone. The so called deadening of the nerves (or worse removing of the nerves) is simply not true. Nak Muay spend hundreds of hours doing repetitive kicks on heavy bags, pads and nearly as many hours sparring with a partner. This repetitive training familarise the boxer with pain, and raises their pain threshold in any one particular area (i.e. the shin). This in turn may give a sense that the nerves are deadened, they are not, they are simply a little dormant. Stay away from training for a long period of time, and see how your pain threshold will have dropped when you next clash shins.

Myth - Muay Thai Fighters harden their shins by bashing their shins with a rolling pin.
Fact -
this is completely false and should not be practiced by anyone. Although shins seem hard, they are living tissue and will give a little under impact. However rolling pins are very solid and give very little in way of leeway, so continuously hitting your shins with a rolling pin will cause them to become traumatised, resulting in possible non reservable damage such as cancer.

Myth - Muay Thai can give you cancer of the shin.
Fact -
this is completely false and although the continued improper bruising and damaging of the shin may in the long term cause cancer (see above), correct training methods and proper conditioning will reduce or eliminate this myth completely.

One thing that we can not be certain of is the future of one's body, as there are far to many possibilities, such as contagious and hereditary diseases, however we can reduce the risk of any additional un-reversable damage to the body by training safely!

Myth - Muay Thai Fighters knee and elbow each other in the head.
Fact -
funny this one, it is true, but should read Nak Muay don't knee and elbow each other in the head, let me explain. Muay Thai is the art of the nine weapons, four of those weapons being elbows and knees. Modern evolution of the sport which has seen the addition of timed rounds, padded gloves and rule changes such as, no plowing (run with your opponents leg, and throwing them through the ropes), no javelin (tipping your opponent up in the clinch, and dropping them on their head) and no deliberately kicking the groin, has also seen additional western ideas of new rules and fight classifications to try and make the sport more palatable for the western crowd.

Such as no knees and elbows to the head for class 'C' fights (where the majority of people in the UK fight), no elbows to the head, but knees are allowed for class 'B' fights (where are small percentage of people fight in the UK), and lastly 'A' class full Muay Thai rules where elbows and knees are allowed to the head (only the elite in the UK fight in this class, of course the amateur scene allows the full use of all Muay Thai weapons). So the answer to this is true in Thailand, 'A' Class and amateur rules fights here in the UK, Nak Muay do knee and elbow each other in the head. It is important to remember whilst training in the Art of Muay Thai or getting ready for competition, Nak Muay use these weapons sparingly, ensuring that they do not cause damage to fellow students whilst training at their camp.

Myth - Women can not do Muay Thai.
Fact -
this is completely false, as even in decades gone by when hand-to-hand and small weapon combat was the norm, the women of Thailand played an important part in the Thai national army, such as the two sisters of Phucket (Thao Thep Krasattri and Thao Si Sunthon) who helped raise an army to hold back the invading Burmese, also Queen Suriyothai who died whilst defending here husband (King Maha Chakapat) in a mighty battle against another invading Burmese army. It is true that Muay Thai the ring sport is a male dominated environment, which is more down to social order and history than anything else. Times are now changing as more women are wanting to learn the Art of Muay Thai for fitness, self defense and to compete in the ring, this in turn with promoters (even in Thailand) wanting to promote women only events is seeing more and more ladies becoming Nak Muay's.

Myth - Muay Thai is all about fighting.
Fact -
this is completely false. It is a shame that some concider there is only one need for the weapons of Muay Thai, and that is to use them for self defence or to fight competitively. However there are major health and psychological benefits to be gained from the Art of Muay Thai. There is no need to fight or compete, as you can simply reap the same benefits as all Nak Muay from the workouts and effective techniques that are used during the training sessions.

Myth - You have to be fit to start Muay Thai.
Fact -
this is false, as anyone can practice the art of Muay Thai no matter what their fitness levels are. It does help to be healthy, but better levels of fitness will come with consistent training.

Myth - Muay Thai Fighters are super humans.
Fact -
this is true, but false at the same time. Due to the requirements to become proficient in the ring sport of Muay Thai, Nak Muay have to undergo a very rigorous training schedule and life style. Top athletes competing in Muay Thai will train upto eight hours a day, six times a week and be very conscious of their diets, sleeping patterns an their surrounding environment. This type of dedication can and will leave many Nak Muay with a heightened sense of confidence, awareness and strength, theses heightened senses is where I believe observers looking in to the Art of Muay Thai seem to think that Nak Muay are super human. They are not, just simply dedicated!

Myth - Muay Thai Fighters used to wear glass on their handwrapps.
Fact -
this is false and probably a throw back from films such as 'Kickboxer', where the boxer had big shards of glass all over his hand wraps, after dipping them into two boxes of glue and glass. Although this myth is very difficult to find out the truth, there seems to be two key elements that stand out. The Chaiya form of Muay Boran uses a hemp rope (a very abrasive materail) which is bound around the boxers hands and forearms, and may have knots made at the knuckles or along the outside edge of the forearm to give extra impact value. The island boxers of the south of Thailand where known for binding there hands and wrists with hemp rope as well, but instead of using knots they would place their bound fists into salt water and then into the sand, allowing them to dry before competing to give an even more rough and solid surface to strike the opponent with. Another strange fact is that during ancient Roman times of Olympic games, fighters would insert metal studs into the knuckle area of their hand wraps to cause more damage to their opponent.

Myth - Muay Thai is the same as Kick Boxing.
Fact -
this is false. Although both arts are often seen as one, even mistakenly called Muay Thai Kickboxing or Thai Kickboxing they are really not the same. There are a lot of similarities between the two arts and this is because Kick Boxing evolved from Muay Thai and Kyokushin Budokai Karate around 1975, both of the later Martial Arts where developed a thousand or so years earlier.

From 1975 up until present day the Art of Kickboxing has gone through many name, style and rule changes since its original form. The original form of Kick Boxing allowed full body contact with use of all possible body weapons, which also included throws and take downs, a lot like the original ancient arts of Muay Boran. This original form of Kick Boxing in competition is now very rare indeed, with only arts like the Chinese San Shaou and San Da forms resembling this original form.

To help people visualise the art of Muay Thai, westerners such as producers of the film 'Kickboxer' and martial artist such as 'Benny "the Jet"Urquidez', helped coin names such as Thai Kickboxing, MuayThai Kickboxing, MuayThai Boxing and Thai Boxing, when they should have stuck to its original name of MUAY THAI.

These additional names may have been used to differentiate between the original form of Muay Thai and the hybrid forms that they may have been teaching themselves. Even nowadays those that teach forms of Kick Boxing give it many different names to differentiate between their style of Kick Boxing and someone elses, such as light contact, full contact, low contact, Lau Gar, Japanese, Korean and American Kick Boxing just to mention a few.

Although Muay Thai has three recognised names and categories, each name represents a specific area within the Art that is unique. For instance Muay Boran covers all old or ancient forms of the original Art, which may or may not encompass Krabi Krabong. Thai Boxing covers most aspects of the ring sport, such as 'A', 'B', 'C', 'Amateur' and 'Novice' class fights. Whilst the name Muay Thai covers all aspects of the Art, new and old, ring or street!

I hope that by answering some of these myths about Muay Thai will help dispell the fears of some, and make Muay Thai more accessable to many other people.

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