Another topic that constantly pops up in the UK Muay Thai community is if people should fight full Thai rules (FTR) from the start.

I was at a show a couple of weekends ago with one of our fighters and I witnessed a sensational bout between two young lads. One was from Chris Knowles’s gym in the UK going by the name of Luciano Mendola and the other was julio Guijarro from Spain.

I think both lads were about 16/17 and the bout was fought with elbow pads under full Thai rules.

Both fighters showed exceptional skill for their age and experience. At the end of the close fought contest, Luciano had done enough to secure the win.

I put a status up on Facebook to congratulate our fighter who’d won in the first round and to also express my appreciation of these two lads performances.

A well known UK fighter commented and said “It was great, I love elbow pads and full Thai rules. C/B class should be eradicated IMO! That fight almost proves my point.”
It’s not something I personally agree with so I responded by asking him if he thought they could have performed to that level if they didn’t have a C/B class base to begin with?”

So we had a friendly debate both making valid points on why there should and shouldn’t be C and B class bouts.

Let me first start with what N,C,B and A class are.

These structures are in place to ensure there is are stepping stone for the combatants. They are as follows

N class: N class is the starting point for most fighters. It is fought over 5 X 1.5 minute rounds with no knees or elbows to the head and both boxers wear shin pads.

C Class: Is still fought over 5 X 1.5 minute rounds with no knees or elbows to the head but no shin pads are worn.

B Class: Is fought over 5 X 2 minute rounds and allows the use of knees to the head but not elbows.

A Class: Is fought over 5 X 3 minute rounds and allows the use of both knees and elbows to the head.

For myself I think this is a great progression tool as I believe you need to be able to walk before you can run.

If you recall I wrote a blog a long the same lines entitled enjoy the journey and reap the benefits.

When I first started out you had to have a certain number of fights and victories before you could even move up to the next class. Things have changed a little now where some people can have their very first fight under A class rules.

The number of fights you had to have in the early days was a little harsh but something to consider when comparing it to some of the Muay Thai and K1 power houses in Europe.

I remember talking with a friend of mine who’s had a lot of dealings with Dutch promotors in bringing fighters over. One of the differences he said about Dutch and UK fighters is the experience level. Generally, an A class English fighter is someone who is merely prepared to fight full rules whereas an A class Dutch fighter is someone who’s had 40/50 fights. To my knowledge they do not/did not use elbows for quite a while in their career. I’m pretty sure Ramon Dekkers’ first elbow fight was his rematch with Numphon in Lumpinee stadium.

The French also have a system in place to help bring their fighters along, although don’t quote me on this as it’s only what I’ve observed from when I fought in Paris. From what I can work out they still have A, B and C class fighters but all can use elbows with the use of elbow pads. C class wear head guard, body armour and shin pads, B is head guard and shin pads and A is without any protection equipment (except in Paris, where by order of the government they must wear elbow pads). The idea is you build up to be the C class champion from there the B class champion and then of course the A class champion.

So two very different systems but both delivering fantastic results.

Many people believe that Thais start from the word go using full rules but most of those I’ve spoken to regarding this have often said their first fight was only three rounds with no use of elbows. Agreed they were very young but it is still a stepping stone and they were not just thrown in the deep end.

I know a huge majority of the people who scream FTR from the word go have never had a Thai fight in their life let alone been elbowed in the head so it’s frustrating when they say that others should. Being pushed too far too soon can have such a negative effect on a fighter and their career.

I personally couldn’t have fought FTR from the start. As a kid I was a bit of a fanny so that would have well and truly put me off competing. I had around 25 fights before my first FTR fight and since then I’ve had over 60 fights with elbows and I’ve only been cut 6 times, so I don’t think it’s important to use elbows from the start.

You never know when the next future world champion will walk through the door so how you bring people along is important. Not only technically but mentally they need to be nurtured in order for them to get to the best they can be in the sport.

Obviously people’s opinions vary on this so it would be interesting to hear other people’s view points on this controversial subject.

Here is the sensational bout between Luciano Mendola and julio Guijarro…enjoy.