If you know anything about Muay Thai, it’s probably how brutal it is. Still, you might wonder how exactly this martial art earned such a fearsome reputation among fans and fighters alike. Especially when there are plenty of other potent combat styles out there.

Here are 6 reasons why Muay Thai is so dangerous:

  1. Muay Thai is the art of eight limbs.
  2. Muay Thai causes repetitive stress on the body.
  3. Weight cutting can lead to medical issues.
  4. There’s a lack of protective gear. 
  5. Sparring carries a high injury risk.
  6. Muay Thai strikes are powerful.

In this article, I’ll go through these factors in-depth and delve into why they pose a risk for practitioners. This information will help you better understand the answer to the question “Why is Muay Thai so dangerous?” 

1. Muay Thai Is the Art of Eight Limbs

Muay Thai is famously known as “the art of eight limbs.” The moniker is based on the style’s devastating use of both elbows and knees in fighting.

It’s common for slicing elbow strikes to lacerate and cut the skin. Even when these wounds heal, scarred tissue is prone to reopening again during fights.

Meanwhile, knee strikes can often carry significant concussive force. 

Some MMA promotions even ban specific elbow and knee techniques. This goes to prove these moves’ potency.

Twelve to six elbow strikes, which are elbow strikes going straight down, are illegal in the UFC. The same goes for pushing your knees onto the head of a grounded opponent. 

2. Muay Thai Causes Repetitive Stress on the Body

The conditioning of Muay Thai practitioners is unparalleled. 

Even if you don’t plan to fight competitively, you’ll still be drilling hundreds of kicks into a heavy bag. And that’s on top of all the punches, elbows, knees, and general cardio.

This accumulative stress on your body can lead to repetitive strain injury. This is a common condition caused by muscle overuse that results in you feeling stiffness and lingering pain.

Powering through the discomfort isn’t a solution either, as you risk experiencing an even more severe injury. Ignoring overuse signs can often lead to a sprained ankle or fractured shinbone

So if you practice Muay Thai, make sure to listen to your body and rest when needed. 

3. Weight Cutting Can Lead to Medical Issues

Like other combat sports, competitive Muay Thai utilizes weight classes. This practice pushes a lot of fighters to look into weight cutting.

Weight cutting is a process through which fighters purposely deplete themselves of body water to achieve lower weigh-ins. 

In some cases, they can shed as much as 10, 20, or even 30 pounds (4.54, 9.07, or even 13.61 kg) within a few weeks. And when they do, they’re at increased risk of medical issues. 

Some of these problems, such as renal failure and extreme dehydration, can even lead to death.

The dangers of weight cutting are a widely known issue within the discipline. Not long ago, a young woman died from a weight cut she tried for a Muay Thai fight.

4. There’s a Lack of Protective Gear

When you practice Muay Thai, it’s crucial to use the adequate protective gear. This includes elbow pads, gloves, and headgear.

However, professional fighters competing in top promotions only get a cup and mouthguard when they’re in the ring.

Therefore, Muay Thai fighters have to be very adept at blocking and eluding strikes. Otherwise, they’re taking the full brunt of every hit that lands.

Over time, strikes to the head can cause a wide range of issues. More so when they come from trained athletes throwing them with lethal intent.

It’s well documented that CTE is one common byproduct of repetitive brain trauma. It can lead to depression, parkinsonism, and even dementia.

5. Sparring Carries a High Injury Risk

Even if you’re wearing the proper protective gear, Muay Thai sparring can still be very dangerous.

Sometimes, your training partner won’t realize they’re overloading a shot in the moment. Or perhaps they’ll instinctively throw a flying knee on accident.

Either way, you can still get hurt. You can find plenty of videos on YouTube depicting incidents just like the ones I mentioned.

For more proof, look to former UFC Champion Max Holloway. He and many other professional fighters rarely spar because of the high injury risk that comes with the move. In his words: “You guys only get one brain. Save it.”

If you’re pondering on the question, “Why is Muay Thai so dangerous?” remember—sparring isn’t always as safe as it sounds.

6. Muay Thai Strikes Are Powerful

Some martial arts teach strikes as a snapping motion; you reach your target and then retract.

However, Muay Thai teaches you to follow through on your kicks. Instead of kicking at your opponent, you aim to kick through them.

The force generated from these moves can easily bruise bodies and break bones. And not just on the receiving end, either. 

It’s easy for a Muay Thai fighter to indirectly injure themselves when their low kicks get checked. After all, imagine kicking a telephone pole as hard as you can with your shin. 

Few martial arts are so powerful that the user can get seriously hurt from their own strikes. This is why Muay Thai has earned such a frightening reputation.

Related Articles