Should I train in boxing as well as Muay Thai?

In this era of mixed martial arts, cross-training has become commonplace among fighters. A common question from those just starting in Muay Thai is, ‘Should I train in boxing as well as Muay Thai?’ Unfortunately, the answer is more complicated than you would think.

There are definite benefits to incorporating Western boxing into Muay Thai. Within a few months of cross-training, you will see that your hand skills will improve dramatically faster than people of a similar experience level who are training Muay Thai alone. Boxing, while being an incomplete form of striking, offers a more precise and powerful set of punching techniques that can have a lot of application to Muay Thai.

When contemplating the integration of boxing techniques into Muay Thai training, it’s crucial to recognize the distinct nature of each martial art. Boxing, characterized by strategic footwork, head movement, and rapid in-and-out maneuvers, doesn’t seamlessly translate to Muay Thai. Simply relying on head movement in Muay Thai may lead to exposing oneself to kicks or knees. Additionally, while boxing often operates within a closer fighting range, Muay Thai’s unique dynamics, with its diverse array of strikes including kicks and knees, require a different strategic approach.

Weight distribution is another critical factor to consider. Unlike boxing, where weight may be evenly distributed or favor the front foot, Muay Thai demands a dynamic approach. Fighters must be adept at shifting weight for throwing kicks and checking opponents’ kicks.

While these considerations may seem daunting, it’s essential to highlight their significance, especially for novice Muay Thai practitioners. There’s a risk that beginners might inadvertently adopt ineffective habits from their boxing training. It’s crucial to approach cross-training with a mindful understanding of these nuances to ensure a more seamless integration of techniques.

There has been somewhat of an interesting trend in recent months surrounding this topic. One FC’s Muay Thai promotion has seen a major uptick in recent months of fighters (usually Westerners) seeing massive success, overwhelming more traditional-style Thai fighters, with their very boxing-heavy style. This style is somewhat new as it incorporates the more boxing-heavy style of the Muay Mat with the lesser-known Muay Bouk style, which relies on unrelenting pressure and stamina over Mat’s hard-hitting punches tied in with crushing low kicks. Some good examples of this are fellow Aussie Tyson Harrison’s 1st-round KO of Tapaokaew Singha Mawynn and Scotland’s Stephen Irvine stopping multiple-time Lumpinee Stadium champion Parnthep V.K.Khaoyai in the 3rd round.

As the sport continues to evolve, it’s likely that new approaches and styles will emerge. The key is not to abandon the rich traditions of Muay Thai but rather to incorporate elements from other disciplines judiciously. Novice fighters should be especially cautious, as the risk of developing habits that may not translate well into Muay Thai remains a concern.

In the end, the decision to cross-train in Western boxing should be made with a clear understanding of the potential benefits and challenges. It’s a dynamic journey that requires adaptability, an open mind, and a commitment to refining one’s skills in both disciplines. As the Muay Thai landscape transforms, embracing diversity in training methods can contribute to the overall growth and development of the sport.

I hope this answered the question “Should I train in boxing as well as Muay Thai?” but if you have any questions about starting this journey, feel free to head to my  contact page. I’ll be more than happy to answer any queries and provide assistance as you embark on your Muay Thai adventure.

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