We live in a world where danger could strike at any time. In light of this, it’s wise to be prepared to defend yourself should the need to do so ever arise. However, what is the best way to approach self-defense? Is it to obtain a license to carry a firearm and wear it at all times or is it to become proficient in a martial art such as Muay Thai or Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu? In this first of a three-part blog series, we explore Muay Thai for self-defense and compare its pros and cons against concealed carry and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu.
Muay Thai is a brutally effective striking martial art, teaching techniques that, when done right, can make quick work of an assailant. The elbow strikes that Muay Thai teaches are devastating, meant to break bones in the face and open up gashes above the eyes that leave an opponent unable to see properly due to the amount of blood in their eyes. Likewise, the kicks taught in Muay Thai are more practical for a self-defense scenario than kicks taught in many martial arts, and they give a Muay Thai fighter much-needed range.
Control from the Clinch
One drawback of striking martial arts is that they don’t allow you to control an assailant as well as grappling martial arts such as Jiu-Jitsu. After all, if a person is on their feet there’s nothing stopping them from running and picking up a weapon, pulling a weapon out of their pocket, and so on. The clinch techniques taught in Muay Thai, though, do provide you with a great deal of control over your opponent. Not only does the clinch allow you to control your opponent’s movements, a Muay Thai fighter fighting someone who is not trained to fight from the clinch will make quick work of them with powerful knees to the ribs and face.
The training in Muay Thai is intense, the sparring near full-contact, and by the time a person achieves a black belt in Muay Thai they will have acquired both a mental and physical toughness that will serve them well in a self-defense scenario. This is toughness and battle-readiness that receiving a concealed carry permit does not provide you. Arguably, Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu does not provide that same degree of toughness either. After all, tapping out when someone puts you in a chokehold doesn’t really compare to taking an elbow to the face. All said the mental and physical toughness that Muay Thai gives you is really second-to-none.
Advantages of Muay Thai for Self Defense
So, overall, why would a person choose Muay Thai for self-defense over Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu or concealed carry? For one, many self-defense situations do not require lethal force. A barfight/street fight is not a situation where a concealed carry permit holder could be justified in discharging their weapon. Likewise, many concealed carry permit holders would rightfully hesitate to draw their weapon in situations such as a robbery or pick-pocketing. Basically, any situation where your life is not in danger is a situation that does not call for lethal force on your part. By learning a martial art such as Muay Thai, though, you can equip yourself to respond to situations such as these with an appropriate level of force.
In addition to this, learning Muay Thai makes you always ready to defend yourself. Your hands, knees, elbows, and feet are your weapons. A concealed carry permit holder who forgets to pack their weapon goes into a gun-free zone, or runs out of ammo does not have this luxury.
As for the advantages that Muay Thai for self-defense has over Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu for self-defense, there are two major ones: range and the ability to deal with multiple attackers. Range is crucial when dealing with armed attackers. If one of your attackers pulls out a knife, the last thing you want to do is take them to the ground. Ground techniques work because they give you better leverage than your opponent. If all your opponent has to do is stick you with a knife, though, then leverage goes out the window, and range is king.
As for the ability to deal with multiple attackers, Jiu-Jitsu is really only suited for handling one opponent. With Muay Thai, you can stay moving and striking, dealing with opponents as they come. It’s by no means easy, but it can be done.
Disadvantages of Muay Thai for Self-Defense
Simply put, Muay Thai does not have the range and lethality of carrying a handgun or the control of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. While Muay Thai is great for dealing with unarmed attackers, it’s dangerous for a Muay Thai fighter to have to take on someone who has a weapon such as a knife or a bat and almost suicide for a Muay Thai fighter to take on someone who has a gun unless the person is already within reach and the Muay Thai fighter is confident in their ability to swiftly incapacitate their assailant with a single blow—something that even the best Muay Thai fighter in the world would hesitate to bet their life on doing.
Though the clinch does give you some control over your opponent, compared to Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, Muay Thai doesn’t offer the same degree of control. There are stories of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu fighters holding someone in an arm bar or chokehold until the police could arrive. With Muay Thai, the only way to temporarily neutralize a person in this manner is to knock them unconscious. This, however, is often easier said than done and also presents the risk of causing more damage to the person than you intended to.
For dealing with unpredictable situations lethal force is not required but the potential for multiple attackers and the need for range are both present, Muay Thai is a superb self-defense approach. Thanks to a combination of crippling strikes, effective control from the clinch, and an unparalleled degree of mental and physical toughness, Muay Thai fighters are well-prepared to defend themselves in hand-to-hand combat situations.