Experienced Muay Thai fighters know that the skill of avoiding injury comes with a lot of sacrifice, hard work, and proper technique. For beginners to the sport, however, the dangers of training in Muay Thai, as well as in sparring, competitive fights, and other drills and exercises have to be clearly understood, which is why we are here to answer the question, "is Muay Thai dangerous?".
If you would like to know more about the dangers of Muay Thai, the common injuries a Muay Thai fighter experiences, and other aspects of injury, keep reading to find out.
The Potential Dangers of Muay Thai in Different Categories
Muay Thai may be considered very dangerous, but not all aspects or categories of Muay Thai training, competition, and fighting pose the same level of injury risk or injury intensity.
To find out which aspects of Muay Thai are more dangerous (or as dangerous) as others, take a look at our breakdown below.
Muay Thai Class or Training (Warm-up, Bag Work, Pad Work, Footwork Drills)
Similar to boxing gym classes or gym training sessions, the non-fight aspect of this sport usually entails the least amount of injury risk and is, therefore, the best aspect of the sport in terms of safety.
Fighters' gyms require the utmost safety and therefore advise beginners to the fight category to bring their own gloves, hand wraps, shin guards, and other gym equipment such as the gym bag or foot wraps.
Wearing the necessary gear and equipment in gyms, even in a boxing gym (or other types of fighting gyms to train), is the best way to keep yourself safe and effective in bag work, pads, and other light workouts that could improve your overall skills and fitness levels.
Muay Thai Sparring
When you spar in any form, whether light, medium, or heavy sparring, it would entail you getting hit, which is the biggest risk in contact sports, regardless of the type or category.
You spar to train and condition yourself to execute kick techniques, punches, elbows, and knees effectively while withstanding the same from an opponent or sparring partner.
The type of spar intensity with the least amount of injury risk is light sparring, so if you can request to train light sparring instead of the other intensities, then you would be keeping your injury risk to a minimum.
As with most contact activities, wearing the appropriate gear and equipment is necessary, so invest in shin guards, gloves, hand wraps, heavy bags and other gear and equipment to spar safely and effectively.
Amateur Competitive Fights
Fighting in any combat sport poses a significant danger risk, even if you are wearing well-padded gloves,
Unlike sparring and working on the heavy bags or the boxing on the pads, an actual amateur competitive fight entails opposition that would not go too easily with the punches, kicks, knees, and elbows for your safety.
A fight in the amateur arena has greater protective measures and equipment allowed, just like in boxing, so this is relatively safe compared to professional competitive fights.
Professional Competitive Fights
Training and sparring for a professional competitive fight is an absolute must, and would therefore leave you to increase the likelihood of getting hurt, both short-term and long-term.
Fighting is not something to take lightly, and most professionals can attest that training and sparring require an intense amount of discipline, willpower, and dedication.
if you plan to fight professionally to earn a living through fighting, we truly recommend mastering the fundamentals with your kicks, punches, and knees through intense training and sparring sessions, as well as bag work and work on the pads.
Once you understand the effort and determination it would take to elevate your fight game to the pro scene, that is when you can take the next step and level up your training and sparring tailored to pro competition.
In scenarios of self-defense, all the sparring and training sessions with gloves, pads, and bag work would be able to help you survive certain instances, but do not expect your work on the pads, kicks, knees, elbows, and punches to save you from significant danger.
If you find yourself in a tense situation that may escalate into a fight, it is best to remember sparring and kicks can only go so far to help you, so work on deescalating or even better, find a peaceful alternative to end the conflict.
How Dangerous is Muay Thai Compared to Other Combat Sports?
Any form of combat sport poses a relatively greater level of risk with regard to injury, but if you would like to know how techniques utilizing strikes such as punches, kicks, knees, and elbows fare against other popular combat sports, check out this section for an in-depth analysis.
We find Muay Thai to be more dangerous than boxing as Muay Thai involves damaging more areas of the body and utilizes kick strikes, punches, knees, and elbows.
We believe Muay Thai is more dangerous than Karate mainly because of how fast-paced and aggressive certain Muay Thai bouts can be, as well as the added utilization of elbows and knees, which are not allowed in Karate.
Muay Thai is more dangerous than Taekwondo because of how sanctioned matches are set up. In Muay Thai, you would have to land effective strike techniques or hit a knockout to be victorious. In Taekwondo, matches rely heavily on a point-based system and are usually done in a way that stops the action when a solid hit is done by one of the fighters.
We think Muay Thai is more dangerous than wrestling as wrestling mainly relies on pinning taking your opposition down and pinning them to the ground as opposed to unleashing a series of strikes over several rounds. The risk of neck-related injuries in wrestling, however, is something that beginners should take note of.
Brazilian Jiu Jitsu
Similar to the line of reasoning we had for wrestling, we believe Muay Thai is more dangerous than Brazilian Jiu Jitsu because the latter is more grappling-heavy to subdue the opponent as opposed to the former's striking-heavy approach.
Mixed Martial Arts
In mixed martial arts (MMA), there are multiple ways to be victorious in a match, which is why this sport is in a class of its own. In comparison to Muay Thai, we think MMA is more dangerous simply because of the many ways you can finish an opponent.
Common Injuries in Muay Thai
Before fully committing to Muay Thai, it would serve you well to learn and understand the most frequent injuries a Muay Thai fighter may face.
There may even be times when a person who serves as a pro trainer or gym coach in a Muay Thai class encounters these injuries during training as well!
Here are the five injuries you need to learn more about.
Most notorious among hardcore marathoners and sprinters, shin splints are a very common occurrence in any Muay Thai gym.
A shin splint is essentially pain that is felt along the shin area or the shin bone, which is the lower half of your leg.
Your shins are usually the part of your body that experiences the most contact, with all the kicking and leg checking involved in Muay Thai.
Even if you properly execute kicks and leg checks, shin splints are almost unavoidable, especially if you are a beginner to the sport of Muay Thai.
Expect to get hurt a lot on your shins as a beginner.
Common among boxers and weightlifters, wrist sprains could also occur in Muay Thai training and Muay Thai sparring.
A wrist sprain refers to a tear in the ligaments that support and stabilize the wrist, usually because of overextending or bending the hand beyond a certain threshold.
Any punch that lands awkwardly on a bag, pad, or opponent could result in sprained wrists.
Even if you are wearing hand wraps and a good pair of gloves with good wrist cuffs for added support, wrist sprains are a very common occurrence, most especially for a Muay Thai beginner.
Blisters are not just painful and bad to look at but are also very common in Muay Thai.
A blister forms as a result of damage to the skin due to friction caused by rubbing against another material or surface.
In Muay Thai, blisters form at the bottom of the feet. This is because all of the kicking, kneeing, elbowing, and punching require some form of movement of the feet that would cause friction, especially with tough or rough-textured surfaces such as the ring canvas or a matted floor.
When blisters happen and occur, we advise not to pop it, as this may lead to infection and significant delay in the healing process.
If you do not land properly on your feet, you may end up twisting or spraining your foot and ankle, and this type of injury could definitely hurt you for extended periods of time, with some lasting several weeks.
A good gym trainer, gym coach, and gym class should always focus on properly executing techniques and assuming the proper stances and footwork to reduce the occurrence of foot sprains.
Arguably the type of injury in this list that can hurt the most and has the longest lasting effects, experiencing head trauma could happen as a result of solid hits from an opponent.
A lot of sports involve some form of head trauma, but in Muay Thai, anything that significantly and repeatedly damages the head will have significant repercussions down the road.
To minimize the chances and harsh effects of head and brain injuries, we advise any beginner to buy the appropriate headgear and if possible, avoid hard sparring altogether.
Tips to Make Muay Thai Training Safer
Is Muay Thai dangerous? The simple answer is yes, but there are plenty of ways to ensuring that the risk of injury is minimal.
There are several ways to make sure a person who engages in physical activities stays as far away from injuries as possible, but here are some quick tips to know regarding Muay Thai sparring, Muay Thai training, and other drills and exercises.
Frequently Asked Questions
People may ask about the dangers of Muay Thai but there are also some other questions that are commonly asked, and this section is here to answer those questions.
Is Muay Thai bad for your body?
Muay Thai is good for your body in terms of developing strength, endurance, and stamina, but it can pose certain injury risks which you have to look out for.
Has anyone died Muay Thai?
Deaths in matches or related activities are very rare, but there have been reports of approximately three deaths as a result of the sport.
Is Muay Thai bad for your brain?
This sport is bad for your brain if you have been on the receiving end of multiple head strikes, but if you only train casually, the potential for injury is typically limited to ligament or bone injuries in the arms, hands, legs, and feet.
Is Muay Thai the most dangerous martial art?
Although this combat art is very deadly in its own right, there are far more dangerous forms of combat arts practiced around the globe, most notably krav maga. Certain forms of grappling can also lead to significant damage if used with ill intentions.
The next time someone asks, "is Muay Thai dangerous?", you would be able to go in-depth and explain the topic with confidence. If you would like to learn more about combat arts in general, do not forget to check out our website. We release content on a regular basis.