Exploring The Differences Between Thai Style And Western Style Muay Thai

the mind blowing muay thai war between rodtang goncalves

ONE Flyweight Muay Thai World Champion Rodtang Jitmuangnon defends his belt against Edgar Tabares when ONE Championship lands on U.S. soil for the first time in the promotion’s history.

The epic clash goes down at 1stBank Center in Colorado on May 5 in the co-main event of ONE Fight Night 10: Johnson vs. Moraes III on Prime Video.

This bout will be a typical Thai-versus-Western clash of Muay Thai styles. That said, let’s look at what separates the two art forms from each other.

The Origins Of Muay Thai

With a history stretching back centuries, Muay Thai is an ancient martial art from Thailand. Having began as a form of hand-to-hand combat used by the Siamese army in the 16th century, it was further developed into a sport in the 18th century by the country’s King Naresuan. 

Afterward, Muay Thai became popular with both the military and civilian population. However, in recent decades the sport has emerged as one of Thailand’s greatest national treasures.

Traditional Thai Style

Compared to other versions of the art, traditional Muay Thai is generally considered to be more technical and smart. It’s distinguished by its broad range of strikes, including elbow and knee attacks, and its focus on clinching and throws.

ONE Championship is home to many athletes who display the traditional Thai style, such as ONE Featherweight Muay Thai World Champion Tawanchai PK Saenchai and ONE Bantamweight Muay Thai World Champion Nong-O Hama.

Having made his name throughout Thailand’s Muay Thai circuit, Rodtang undoubtedly fits into this category, except he brings a lot more aggression to the Circle.

Muay Thai Across The Globe

In the 1980s, Muay Thai started to gain global recognition due to the surge in worldwide kickboxing events and the influence of martial arts icons like Ramon Dekkers, who helped to define a new style of Dutch kickboxing.

In fact, after he traveled to Thailand to learn and compete in Muay Thai, beating some of the sport’s best, the martial art’s popularity continued to rise throughout the Western world. 

Combat sports organizations began to promote Muay Thai, and many countries broadcasted the sport on television, which generated more interest in the martial art, particularly in the United States, the United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, Japan, the Netherlands, France, Germany, and Brazil.

Innovative Western Style

In the West, Muay Thai practitioners shifted focus from clinching and elbow strikes to punches and kicks, incorporating what they knew about kickboxing into Muay Thai.

This led to the rise of Western style Muay Thai. Fighters focused more on aggression and staying light on their feet, as opposed to the more traditional muay femur style — standing flat-footed and counterattacking.

ONE athletes like former ONE Flyweight Muay Thai World Champion Jonathan Haggerty, ONE Strawweight Muay Thai World Champion Joseph Lasiri, and Tabares — who’ll showcase his Western Muay Thai skills against Rodtang at ONE Fight Night 10 — all have this style.

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