WHAT IS MUAY THAI KICKBOXING?
Muay Thai or Thai Boxing is an effective striking and clinching style of martial arts. Many Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) fighters have adopted Muay Thai as their choice for striking. Muay Thai Kickboxing is known as the science of eight limbs. Fighters learn how to punch, kick, knee, and elbow with both sides of their body.
In addition to kicking and punching, kickboxing is also really about movement. Positioning yourself to attack below the waste, the head, above the waste, etc. Sparring is beautiful because it's just you and one other person. Intimately learning each other while simultaneously fighting each other.
DIFFERENT TYPES OF KICKBOXING
While Muay Thai Kickboxing is arguably the most well known form of kickboxing, there are actually several forms of kickboxing:
| Muay Thai (Thai kickboxing) is really defined by the use of knees, elbows and the clinch (holding an opponents head down)
| Burmese Kickboxing (Lethwei) is very similar to Muay Thai, but involves the use of headbutts making it very lethal
| Korean Kickboxing is technically seen in Tae Kwon Do, but heavily emphasizes kicks over punches
| French Kickboxing (Savate) may not be well known in the US, but it is well known in Europe and is heavily practiced by the Dutch too. Leggings can be worn for protection, but also to give more pain
| American Kickboxing is like Muay Thai, but without the use elbows and knees to be a bit safer.
Interested in learning the difference between striking and grappling?
More analysis of the differences can be found here.
WHAT SHOULD I LOOK FOR IN A KICKBOXING GYM?
First it's important for you to understand your goals. Are you primarily looking to get fit or to actually learn to fight? You might say "both", but if you had to pick one which would you choose? If you're looking to lose weight then you'll want a place that does more cardio kickboxing in a class setting. These places are great to get a sweat, but not great if you're looking to learn skills. There is usually very little emphasis on technique and form. If you're looking to learn to fight, then you definitely first want a place where you feel comfortable. Where you feel like you don't have to spar unless you want. Here are some other big things to look out for:
ASK IF THERE'S BAG, MITT, OR LIGHT SPARRING
Some places have tons of heavy bags, but heavy bags result in poor form. Hands drop because a bag isn't coming after you. Mitts are better because it forces you to react however you don't have to worry much of getting hit. Light sparring is best because someone can come after you and spikes your adrenaline- it's a lot of fun too.
NO REGULAR SPARRING? GO ELSEWHERE.
Sparring is what martial arts are all about. Sparring doesn't mean knocking each other out, but testing your skills against each other to improve and to gain confidence. If a gym does no sparring at all or if no coach watches, then you won't learn.
BYOG: BRING YOUR OWN GEAR
The biggest flag to walk away is if a gym makes you buy their gear. If you can't bring your own, same ounce gloves, mouth guards, wraps, etc, then they are just looking to cross-sell you and don't care about your learning. A good gym cares about your learning over merchandise.