Fan Questions | Training Tips

Is Learning Muay Thai Dangerous? (Muay Thai Training For Beginners)

So you’re interested in martial arts, and you’ve decided you want to start training in Muay Thai, which is great news! But after seeing countless videos online about the injuries associated with Muay Thai, and sparring sessions gone wrong, you’re wondering if it is safe for a beginner to train in Muay Thai.

Well look no further, because in this post, I am going to discuss the safety regarding Muay Thai and also answer the question: Is Learning Muay Thai dangerous for beginners?

Learning Muay Thai is not dangerous, and is completely safe if you’re just practicing and learning. A responsible trainer will show you the basics and will not throw you into sparring if you aren’t ready. You will also learn proper precautions, such as stretching and wrapping your hands, in order to prevent any injury. Even when sparring, your training partners should have your best interest in mind, and should not be trying to injure you.

In the rest of the post, I’ll dive into why you shouldn’t be worried about training in Muay Thai, as well as cases in which Muay Thai training could potentially become dangerous, and how to avoid injury.

Why You Shouldn’t Be Worried About Training Muay Thai

As I said earlier, there is almost no reason to be worried when joining a Muay Thai gym, especially if you are not training professionally. There are several reasons why you shouldn’t worry, and you’ll find that there is really no reason to avoid training Muay Thai.

The first reason you shouldn’t be worried about training Muay Thai is because a good gym will realize you are a beginner. Even if you don’t tell anyone in the gym that you are a beginner, anyone who has trained will be able to tell pretty quickly. A good trainer will take notice, and will show you the basic knowledge you need to successfully complete the first class.

A Muay Thai trainer should be able to tell if you are a beginner by the way you move and punch. But that's why they're there, to help you learn.
A Muay Thai trainer should be able to tell if you are a beginner by the way you move and punch. But that’s why they’re there, to help you learn.

A gym environment is created by the people who go there, and so you want to find a gym with students that are helpful, positive, and respectful towards each other. You’ll find that most gyms nowadays fit this description, so finding a good gym should not be too hard.

Another reason you shouldn’t be worried about training is that you probably won’t be doing anything that could potentially hurt you. For example, you should not be sparring someone on your first day in the gym. In fact, if your gym wants you to spar someone when you clearly aren’t ready, then it’s not a good gym.

And lastly, Muay Thai itself isn’t inherently dangerous. Yes. if you are fighting with someone using Muay Thai, there is a chance of severe injury. But when practiced and trained in a controlled environment, Muay Thai is not any more dangerous than other sports such as soccer or basketball.

How To Find A Good Muay Thai Gym

Finding a good gym is a big part of staying safe during training. This is not only because of the environment of the gym, but also because of the trainers, fighters, and students who train there as well.

A good gym can motivate you to learn, help you improve, and keep you safe. A bad gym could make you unmotivated, deter your progress, and get you injured.

The most important part of a Muay Thai gym will be the trainers. When two students get into a disagreement that becomes physical, the trainer should be the first to step in. Basically the trainer dictates the type of environment felt in the gym. An upbeat, lighthearted trainer can make the environment enjoyable, but most importantly, safe.

The environment of a Muay Thai Gym can play a big role in safety.
The environment of a Muay Thai Gym can play a big role in safety.

Your trainer should also have the students’ best interest in mind. A good thing to ask a trainer when you first attend a class is “how soon can I fight”? If they say they can get you a fight next weekend, knowing full and well that you are a beginner, then your safety probably isn’t their first concern.

I would recommend getting a feel for various gyms in your area. Oviously reading reviews is a good way to see what people think of the gym. Most gyms offer a one-week free trial for you to come in and try some of the classes.

Go try a class out in each gym and think about which one felt the best. You’ll probably decide on the gym based on the class size, trainers, students, and class style.

How To Avoid Injuries in Muay Thai

Now as with any sport, there is always the chance of getting injured or hurt in training. However, the chance of it happening during regular training is highly unlikely, as there are many things you can do to avoid injury.

Some of the most common injuries in striking combat sports such as boxing, are hand and wrist injuries. These injuries are common due to the size and purpose of our hands, which are small, fragile, and not made to hit things.

It is also easy to injure your wrist when punching, especially as a beginner. The wrist can bend when punching, more so when not wearing wraps or gloves. Putting pressure on an awkwardly bent wrist is likely to result in injury, which is why hand wraps are worn when striking.

Wrapping your hands will pad your knuckles and keep your wrist stable while punching.
Wrapping your hands will pad your knuckles and keep your wrist stable while punching.

So the most important takeaway from this is to always wrap your hands. Wrapping your hands will keep your fist aligned with your wrist while punching, preventing the punch from putting any uncomfortable pressure that could cause injury.

Also, the wraps will add a bit of padding to the knuckles, which can help while you get used to feeling the impact on them. I’d recommend you use 180-inch hand wraps, as they are the standard and will best protect your hands.

I’d also recommend wraps that are stretchy, but not flimsy. My personal favorites are the hand wraps by Pro Impact (link to Amazon), as they have lasted me a while without tearing up or any discomfort.

I would discourage you from wearing glove-style hand wraps, as the don’t add enough pressure to keep your wrist safe.

Aside from wearing hand wraps, you should also wear gloves during training. I would recommend 16 oz. gloves, as they will give your hands the most protection without being too heavy. Honestly, the type of glove is not too important, and a boxing glove with good reviews and from a reputable company should be fine.

I also wouldn’t recommend going too expensive with your gloves, as you will find certain things you like and don’t like about the glove, that you can use when buying a more expensive pair. I started out with the Title Pro Style boxing gloves, because are inexpensive but still good quality.

Wearing gloves protects your hands from the impact of your punches, which also keeps them from breaking.
Wearing gloves protects your hands from the impact of your punches, which also keeps them from breaking.

Lastly, you should stretch and warm up to avoid muscle injury. In most gyms you’ll find that they jump straight into the training session. This is fine if you aren’t overextending your muscles. However, make sure you are a few minutes into the class before attempting something like a high kick, as attempting a high kick without warming up can cause you to pull your hamstring.

How To Stay Safe While Sparring Muay Thai

A big part of Muay Thai that may be intimidating to newcomers is sparring. However, you should know that you shouldn’t be pressured into sparring if you don’t feel ready for it. It is possible to learn all the basics of Muay Thai without ever having to spar.

That being said, sparring is a great way to apply your skills in real combat situations, and you’ll find that fighting someone in real life is very difficult. When you finally do decide to spar, there are certain things you need to do to keep yourself safe. The first things you need are protection.

At the very least, you need a groin protector and a mouthpiece. Accidental groin shots are pretty common in Muay Thai due to the emphasis on low kicks, and a mouthpiece will keep your teeth from flying out. Shin pads are also important in May Thai sparring, as bone-on-bone strikes can be very painful.

Muay Thai sparring is known for its relaxed and 'playful' nature, and does not typically require headgear for this reason.
Muay Thai sparring is known for its relaxed and ‘playful’ nature, and does not typically require headgear for this reason.

There are a lot of factors involved with sparring. First of all, you should not be sparring too hard. A sparring session should be easily distinguishable from a real fight. You and your partner should set boundaries and expectations for the sparring session if the trainer does not do so.

Also, you may want to consider wearing headgear, mostly to reduce the impact of the punches, although its effectiveness in preventing injury is debatable. The best way to stay safe during sparring is to just spar light. If you want to know more about how to stay safe while sparring, I go into a lot more detail in a previous article I wrote about just that, which I’ll link to here.

To wrap this post up, I hope you understand now that Muay Thai isn’t as dangerous as it may seem on paper. Although it is a brutal martial art when used in a real fight, that is not reflective of the controlled version of Muay Thai that is practiced during sparring.

All injuries are avoidable through proper preparation, and your experience training Muay Thai should be an enjoyable one. So make the jump, find a gym, and get to training!