Most Brutal Striking Fighting Art–it’s not Muay Thai
Now, let’s start by acknowledging some facts. Firstly, I was a Muay Thai regional director in the USA because of my fighting/training and knowledge of the sport. Secondly, I fought Muay Thai in Thailand 20 times–one of those times on Thai National TV. Thirdly, I trained at various gyms in Thailand with several ex stadium champions all with different takes on the strategy appropriate for Muay Thai. Fourthly, I was a ring commentator for the foreign crowds at a stadium in Chiang Mai: I was the one that explained the rules, points and action. Fifthly, I know how difficult the sport is and how hard the training can be. And finally, I lived the life, trained the life, and fought the life for several years. So, unlike the never been there and never done it crowd of guys, I am an authority. Additionally, those credentials are far from the sum total of my fighting experience. In all honesty,I consider the K1 fights and training in the Netherlands the pinnacle of the striking training/fighting I’ve done (but that’s another story).
After 75 fights on 3 continents I am here to tell you that Muay Thai is dwarfed by another fighting style. Yeah, that’s right, dwarfed by a more brutal, primal, more encompassing fighting method. So while the USA Muay Thai fans still struggle to really ever see an authentic Muay Thai fight, replete with Nahm Muay, Ram Muay and the horrid music–they most assuredly have not seen its more brutal cousin. To envision this more brutal cousin take Muay Thai strip it of the ridiculous point system it uses, take away the gloves–that’s right, handwraps only, keep the knees, elbows, shins and fists and then allow headbutts, allow takedowns and throws (using the legs) and body slams, add in more punches and low kicks, then, allow fighters to continue after they’ve been knocked down and out, where only giving up or a long KO decides a winner and you got it. But what is it that you have, precisely? You have Lethwei or Burmese Boxing. The more dangerous, unforgiving, brutal cousin of Muay Thai.
The differences between Muay Thai and Burmese Boxing are vast to the trained eye and I will not attempt to delineate them here and now. I will just give an overview of Lethwei: The fighting itself is far more applicable to street defense and MMA cage fighting than Muay Thai ever dreamed of being. The strategy is more primal and final than the calculated and sometimes plodding Muay Thai strategy. The punches more designed to rake and inflict tearing of flesh than the gloved hands of Muay Thai. And that leaves out the headbutts , throws and body slams. Face the reality: 99.9% of the Martial Arts’ World has no clue about Lethwei.
The stone cold reality is that few people outside of South East Asia know anything about it. As a matter of respect to the real fighters, I do not count the watered down versions that some are trying to pass off in Europe or North America as Lethwei. It’s akin to Pizza Hut passing off its product as authentic Italian Pizza (you want to get an Italian angry–give them Pizza Hut). It’s some idea but it’s not close to the real thing.
A part of my Lethwei history: I was supposed to fight in Burma 4 times–all illegal fights with illegal river border crossings in the famous Golden Triangle (the trip would had been aided by the Army on both sides or it wasn’t happening which meant a night crossing in a canoe both ways from one Army to the other). In the end, however, my trainer didn’t want to go through the trouble of the two day journey (it was much easier to fight any and every day in Thailand). I lament not doing those fights because the style fits my style much better than the endless Thai clinch knee point style that I faced in many of my 20 fights in Thailand.
Well, I could continue the story but I feel it best to go to some examples of Lethwei (the real thing) Here, then, are some videos: you will notice the tempo is much higher than in Muay Thai, they throw more punches, low kicks, headbutts and body slams–they even get KOed and keep fighting. After watching these you might understand why I teach Burmese Boxing as the most Brutal, on Roids Striking System there is. It’s time to bury that Muay Thai propaganda, now isn’t it?