ONE Super Series is home to the world’s best Muay Thai fighters, and while they all practice the same martial art, each of them utilizes a unique style that suits their individual personality and body type.
Some prefer to use their punches or kicks; others favor their knees or elbows. And then you have fighters who rely on smarts. But no matter which style they favor, every competitor represents the art within the art – the subtle forms that make Muay Thai more of a science than a sport.
Although there are many styles of Muay Thai, here are five of the most popular variants of “the art of eight limbs.”
Muay femeu is embodied by athletes who favor smarts over sheer power in competition. The athlete may not be superior in any single technique; instead, IQ is their greatest strength in the ring.
Two-sport ONE World Champion Sam-A Gaiyanghadao defines what it means to be a muay femeu. He takes a calculated approach to fighting, he picks his shots carefully, and he never puts himself in danger just to land.
Generally speaking, muay femeu practitioners do well against opponents who like to rush forward into the fray.
This was the case at the end of 2020 when another muay femeu – ONE Bantamweight Muay Thai World Champion Nong-O Gaiyanghadao – knocked out the more aggressive Rodlek PK.Saenchai Muaythaigym in the third round of their World Title clash at ONE: COLLISION COURSE.
Muay maht athletes mostly use their punches in the ring, and they are known for their tremendous knockout power and aggressive nature. But that’s not to say they only use punches. Muay maht usually set up other attacks – for example, elbows or kicks – with their hands.
Muay maht are usually very dangerous in the opening rounds of a fight, but if their opponents can find a way to overcome that power, they often give up points and drop decision losses.
However, when two muay maht step into the ring together, you can expect an explosive contest. We saw a prime example of that with the #2-ranked ONE Super Series Fight of 2020 between Rodlek and Kulabdam.
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Muay dtae love using their kicks to soften up the arms and body of their opponent before going in for the finish.
Petchdam “The Baby Shark” Petchyindee Academy is an excellent example of a muay dtae. Back in July 2018, he threw a devastating body kick at Josh “Timebomb” Tonna, who was about to step forward. While the Thai was looking to plant his shin into Tonna’s ribs, his knee hit the Aussie’s head and knocked him out cold.
Muay dtae usually do well against punchers because they can hang back on the outside and use their rangier kicks to counter the shorter blows.
Muay khao fighters rely on their knees to create the most damage. They can use their famed weapons from within the clinch and the outside.
When you think of a muay khao, you might see ONE Featherweight Muay Thai World Champion Petchmorakot Petchyindee Academy, who used his knees to great effect to defend his belt against Magnus “Crazy Viking” Andersson in September 2020.
Some of the most entertaining fights for muay khao happen when they face a muay maht. This is because punchers love to try and catch knee fighters with their hands down, which sometimes happens when a muay khao aims to get leverage behind their knee attacks.
In July 2020, Petchmorakot famously defended his crown for the first time against a dangerous puncher and living legend in “The Boxing Computer” Yodsanklai IWE Fairtex, proving that knee strikers are some of the toughest Muay Thai athletes in the world.
Muay sok is the rarest of the five styles on our list, but these athletes are also some of the most dangerous – because just one elbow can change the course of a bout.
“Elbow Zombie” Muangthai PK.Saenchai Muaythaigym is the textbook definition of a muay sok. The man from PK.Saenchai Muaythaigym has recorded 14 wins on his record that came via elbow knockout.
Because muay sok like to fight on the inside, they are the dangerous counter-attackers against muay maht.
When a puncher throws, they often leave themselves open down the middle, which muay sok capitalize on by sending rising or jutting elbows through the guard of their heavy-handed counterparts.