In finding the real Muay Thai self-defense value and effectiveness of a martial art, it is the type of weapons available in the arsenal that make the difference.
In Thai boxing, the fighters are able to use the body's most destructive weapons to their advantage. In Muay Thai, the 2 feet, 2 fists, 2 elbows and 2 knees are known as the 8 weapons. When put together these weapons are a lethal combination.
The feet are used for long distance striking, the fists and knees for medium distance attacks, while the elbow is used effectively as a devastating short range weapon. An experienced Thai boxer has solid defensive techniques for protection from the 8 weapons. One proven Muay Thai defensive technique often used as a counter move in ring combat, is known as "the wall of defense", in which the fighter protects himself by lifting a knee to make contact with a lowered elbow to form a protective wall. This human wall has the strength to absorb the attacking strikes coming from any of the 8 weapons. Whether short, medium or long range, any of the 8 weapons, if used correctly, can touch the opponent with lightning speed, precision and accuracy.
Lightning quick roundhouse kicks targeted at the head are regarded as the most flashy and effective attacks in a Muay Thai fight and scores high points from the judges.
The most effective strike is when the attacker's shin, not foot, is thrown into the side of an opponent's head. The roundhouse kick can easily break a tensed up forearm on impact. Therefore, Thai boxers wisely prefer to absorb the roundhouse strike rather than maintain a rigid defensive stance.
Flying Knees Since Muay Thai is a close-quarters combat sport; effective grappling and knee techniques are needed. A good close-quarters fighter can be very effective in taking the wind and the will to fight from an opponent. A knockout strike is almost guaranteed when an opponent's head is brought down to an upward-thrusting knee.
Muay Thai fighters are the masters of kick fighting. But it's their shins that are the hardest part of their body and used to chop an opponent down.
The knees are also used to devastating effect, as are elbow and fist attacks.Fighters from Thailand have successfully shown their punching proficiency by producing a number of world WBC and WBA boxing champions. In Muay Thai fights, power punching is seldom seen since it doesn't score high points.
It's the elbow strike that separates the Muay Thai fighter from other martial artists.
A lightning fast elbow strike is the weapon of choice for a fast knockout and held in high regard by the judges and spectators. Aside from being able to effectively strike with your hands, feet, knees and elbows in Thai boxing, being able to grapple and control your opponent in the clinch is necessary.
Unlike western boxing where holding the opponent is illegal, Muay Thai allows the fighters to grapple for position and control.
When two Thai fighters cling to each other in during the fight, they use their knees, fists and elbows to attack one another. Being in the clinch is hard work and requires a good amount of conditioning to hang on to a fighter who has the defensive techniques to keep his opponent at bay. If two Thai boxers clinch without striking, the referee will separate the two fighters as grappling without action is not allowed in a Muay Thai fight.