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damien trainor

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An age old argument: Authentic Muay Thai vs Modified Muay Thai

19 Oct Posted by in Blog | Comments

Whenever there’s a big show in the UK the usual argument crops up on social media. I’ve actually seen this argument going back and fourth for over 20yrs with nothing ever being resolved. Both fractions still run consistently throughout the country with either side taking pop shots at each other when they aren’t happy about something. I actually think both sides have some valid points so let’s take a look at them.

Authentic Muay Thai scoring :- If you remember my blog post on scoring I explained that Muay Thai isn’t designed to be the ultimate fighting system. It’s got its own set of rules which set it apart from other combat sports.

One of the myths on Muay Thai scoring is that the first two rounds don’t count. This is in fact inaccurate. With it being the early stages of the fight it’s physically harder to show effect on your opponent as both boxers will still be fit and strong. For this reason these rounds are usually used for feeling out and testing the opponent meaning more often than not it will be scored even. However it is still possible to take the lead in these rounds if one fighter is showing clear dominance over the other.
The later rounds do tend to hold more weight than the early ones due to fighters having had more time to display their full skill set. The fitter stronger boxer of the fight is generally the one that will walk away victorious.

This is often the first hurdle that trips the layman or paying public. Not much action in the first two rounds can cause people to lose interest and if shown on TV you could lose a viewer. Also if a boxer looks as if he’s done better in the first three rounds but then got took apart in the last two, you’d think by using simple maths and adding the rounds up, the person winning the first three would be the overall winner. In reality it depends on how much of a margin they won those rounds compared to how much they lost the others.

I used this diagram in my previous blog as it highlights really well what I’m trying to get across (remember Muay Thai is not scored in percentages it’s merely a diagram to give you a visual idea)

judging card

 

 

 

 

This is the first thing the modified crew normally bring up when saying certain aspects of the rules need to change in order for it to progress from a niche sport in to a mainstream sport.
They stress that it’s too complex for the layman to understand. All they want to be able to do is sit back and enjoy a fight without having to analyse who won and who didn’t.

Which does kind of make sense.

Modified Muay Thai :- This group generally consists of two types of people. The ones who don’t fully understand how Muay Thai is scored and those who understand but are trying to push it more mainstream and on to TV.

One of the main things they want to push is each round being scored equally. No other round holds more weight than the other making it easy for the public to read how the fight is going.

Another is making all techniques score the same so nothing outweighs the other. The techniques must still show effect but it would mean an ineffective punch would be no better than an ineffective kick and an effective kick would be the same as an effective punch.

Really what I’ve just described is how k1 rules kickboxing is scored with the exception of the clinch and use of elbows. K1 has excelled in popularity all over Europe, could that be down to the simplified rule set? It’s certainly possible.
From being in Thailand for a long time and having to compete against the Thais it’s hard for me to not look at a fight without using Muay Thai scoring. I do however see how the traditional sense of scoring can seem very alien to western audiences and confuse them as to who they thought should have won.

I personally believe an international ruling system could help for it to appeal to your everyday spectator but then the problem with doing this is if you change the rules would it still be classed as Muay Thai or does it become its own sport in its self?
Also most fighters dream to compete in Thailand, but if you’re not trained to fight Muay Thai rules it’s unlikely you’d ever fight there and win. It’s a catch 22.

I only really started to understand how it was scored when I lived in Thailand but Joe public isn’t going to be able to do that. Neither will they want to take a judging course just so they can watch and understand the fights.

I’m really not sure on what is the best solution, part of me says keep Muay Thai as Muay Thai but then another part of me says something needs to change if the sport is to progress as a mainstream sport. Going in its present direction I believe it’s as big as it’s going to get here in the UK.

It would be interesting to know what other people’s views are on this so please feel free to comment and offer your own insight.


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