I’ve written a guide just in case you’ve never seen a Muay Thai fight.
How to Watch a Muay Thai Fight
- First, a Muay Thai contest has of 5, 3 minute rounds with a 2 minute rest in between rounds.
- Points are scored according to landed strikes; punches, elbows, kicks, knees and sweeps. Kicks and Knees score more than punches and elbows, while sweeping your opponent scores the most points.
- When engaged in the clinch both fighters will grapple for the dominant position. When knees are landed in the clinch position they must be countered or else the fighter who executed more knees will score more. If a sweep is executed and both fighters fall the fighter who lands on top gets the advantage.
- Clean hits should always be countered or else your opponent will receive the point, this is most often seen with kicks to the body. Which is why you see things like this in training.
- Sweeps score the most points, then kicks, then elbows and finally punches score the least amount of points.
Power shots score more points.
If your opponent attacks but you do not show any reaction, that is NOT a power shot. But, if you attack your opponent and he shows a visible reaction (such as flinching or turning away from the strike) this will score to your favor. This aspect of the fight is often overlooked by viewers who are not familiar with the scoring system.
Another often misunderstand point is the role of dominance in a Muay Thai Fight.
Fighters will often pop up immediately when sweeped or knocked down and continue to fight. This is because the fighters do no want to show weakness, because if one fighter shows weakness the exchange is scored for the more dominant fighter, even if he has been losing the round.
In North American boxing, you’ll often see fighters take an 8 count before getting back to their feet, you will almost never see this in Muay Thai, because it shows weakness and will be scored against you.
The 1st Round
Most people that have watched Muay Thai will notice that most of the action in a Muay Thai match takes place during the third and fourth rounds, have you ever wondered why that is?
Well, the first round is considered the feeling out round. The fighters will spend the round studying their opponents movements, judging the distance and only engaging when they want too.
In North America fighters have “fight camps” where the fighter trains specfically for a certain opponent or style. In Thailand the fighters are doing general Muay Thai training all the time, so because of that fighters take the first round to figure out their opponent.
Another reason is in the major stadiums such as Lumpinee, Onmoi and Rajadamnern have gambling; and the slowed pace of the first round gives the gamblers some time to see how each fighter looks in the ring before placing a bet on them.
The 5th Round
In the fifth round fighters will engage very little and often touch gloves, if it’s not a close fight. The winning fighter will try to touch gloves with their opponent. If their opponent touches back that means they concede defeat. The reason for this is the majority of fighters in Thailand can fight every week, or every two weeks. So If one fighter has won 3 out of the 4 rounds that have already transpired, the fighters will not engage each other until they are encouraged too by the referee.
A Muay Thai fighter will find it more embarrassing to be completely dominated by their opponent for five rounds opposed to being knocked out in the first round or fifth round. This is due to the fact that knockouts often occur due to mistakes. This is another reason why the fighters barley engage in the fifth round.
Now that you have an idea of what you are watching, why don’t you try watching some traditional Muay Thai?