Beginning Muay Thai: The Five Different Styles

Article by: Finn Coleman

Muay Thai, originating in Thailand centuries ago, has a lengthy history, but only relatively recently was the martial art recognised worldwide as one of the most effective stand-up striking arts there is.

Muay Thai is commonly referred to as the ‘art of eight limbs’, as it incorporates the use of elbows, knees, kicks and punches. As you begin your martial arts journey, you will soon notice that certain people favour different styles of fighting in Muay Thai. 

This post will cover five of the defining styles of Muay Thai.


  1. Muay Mat – the heavy boxer

The Muay Mat style of Muay Thai favours heavy hands. Punches score the same as clean kicks, knees or elbows in modern Muay Thai judging, and punching is an effective way to set up your other attacks.

One of the most popular Muay Mat fighters of this era is One Championship fighter Rodtang Jitmuangnon, known for utilising heavy hands in setting up devastating kicks.

Tip: In order to land more kicks, knees and elbows, leading a combination with a simple punch combination such as a jab-cross will get your opponent to shield up, allowing you to place a kick, knee or elbow with a high chance of landing clean.


  1. Muay Khao – the knee fighter

The Muay Khao fighter utilises frequent knee strikes to break down their opponent’s midsection, before closing in for the finish. Because knees are most commonly thrown in the clinch, Muay Khao fighters are usually highly proficient in grappling, using dominant positions to sink in knee strikes. 

Tall, lanky fighters are often the best Muay Khao, due to having extra range to land knees from the outside. Petchmorakot Petchyindee Academy is considered a master of this style.

Tip: when kneeing from the outside, make sure not to ‘pump’ your hand down when striking, as the most common defence against a knee is a lead hook to the exposed side.


  1. Muay Dtae – the heavy kicker

Undoubtedly, Muay Thai is best known for its devastating kicks, which utilise the momentum of the entire body to generate the most powerful roundhouse strike there is in martial arts. A Muay Dtae fighter will throw a variety of kicks from close, medium and long range, including push kicks, body kicks, leg kicks and head kicks.

This style of Muay Thai makes heavy use of the body kick to wear the opponent’s body down, before going in for the finish. Even if these kicks do not land clean, unless they are checked, the damage caused by the shin bone to an opponent’s guard will slowly take its toll. Buakaw Banchamek, one of the most famous Thai fighters, is a classic Muay Dtae.

Tip: Throwing body kicks to the forearm of an opponent is an effective way to slow down their own strikes, and force them to drop their guard, enabling you to capitalise on their compromised defence and attack.


  1. Muay Sok – the elbow specialist

Elbows are some of the most damaging strikes in Muay Thai with a variety of uses, often considered the ‘knives’ of Thai boxing. There are several ways to throw elbows, each with a different purpose. While elbows can be thrown from the outside, the clinch is a fantastic position to land elbows which will cut your opponent and enable you to gain a superior position. 

As such, the Muay Sok, like the Muay Khao fighter, should be well trained in the clinch, knowing when and how to capitalise on small openings in the opponent’s guard. Yodkhunpon Sittraiphum, known as the “elbow hunter of a 100 stitches”, is one of the best Muay Sok fighters in history. Australia’s own world champion Nathan Corbett earned himself the title “Golden Elbows” due to his devastating array of elbow strikes.


  1. Muay Femeu – the technician

Those familiar with the ins-and-outs of Muay Thai often consider the Muay Femeu fighter to be the most entertaining to watch. Muay Femeu refers to fighters who are considered to have mastered the true art of Muay Thai with fluidity and grace, outclassing their opponent on all fronts. 

Muay Femeu fighters are great to watch, as they rely not only on brute force but on their sound technique. Timing and accuracy are key here. Widely regarded as one of the greatest Muay Thai fighters of all time, Saenchai is a picture perfect example of a Muay Femeu fighter.

Tip: this style of fighting requires strict attention to detail, and a high level of calmness when sparring. The Muay Femeu fighter rarely shows any sign of frustration, relying on staying focussed so that any window of opportunity is immediately taken.


Remember, your own unique style of Muay Thai is something that will slowly develop at its own pace. Our experienced coaches at the Ironfist Gym Brisbane will make sure that you have a sound understanding of Muay Thai from which to develop your unique style.

Ironfist runs beginner Muay Thai classes Monday through Saturday, in the mornings and afternoons; so whatever your schedule, Ironfist has a time for you. Grab a 2-day pass now, or call Ironfist to book in a time today!

The Ironfist Gym is not just another martial arts gym – even more than the numerous world champions we have raised, Ironfist finds the greatest pride in the strength of our community. You will be training alongside people from various backgrounds and skill levels, from those lacing up their gloves for the first time, to professional fighters, all working toward their individual goals. The mutual support, encouragement, and friendly competition will make your foray into boxing as fun as it gets.

Any other questions? Ask away! We are happy to help.


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