Perhaps you’re considering taking up Muay Thai, or maybe you’ve been doing it for a while and want to make sure you’re using the right equipment. So what do you need for Muay Thai? We’re here to walk you through all of the equipment you might need.
Muay Thai or Thai boxing is the cultural martial art of Thailand. The origin of Muay Thai dates back several hundred years, and was essentially, developed as a form of close-combat that used the entire body as a weapon, including elbows and knees, leading to it becoming known as “the art of eight limbs”. In modern day, Muay Thai has become a global sport and is often incorporated into the training routines of Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) fighters and kickboxers.
Because Muay Thai is based around using mainly the hard joints and bones to defeat your opponent, it’s crucial that anyone training has the correct protection, to ensure that they avoid injury and get the most out of their training. The level you train at will affect how much equipment you need, however there are some items which are an absolute necessity.
The equipment you need for basic training
When training Muay Thai, the equipment you need will be dependant on the type of training you’re doing. Training with a partner on the pads needs a different set of equipment from Sparring for example.
Boxing gloves are the most important item of training equipment for Muay Thai. The gloves are what protect both your hands from getting damaged and your opponent or sparring partner from getting injured, so it’s important to get these right. We’ve written some great articles on the protection boxing gloves provide. Muay Thai has it’s own style of boxing glove with a slightly differently positioned hand as well as several other differences.
If you’re only training bag/pad work, or if you are a beginner and can’t yet afford to pay for a quality pair of gloves just yet, then regular boxing gloves will work just as well.
When buying your first pair of gloves, it’s easy to be tempted to go for the cheapest glove you can find. Unfortunately a lot of the time, the saying ‘you get what you pay for’ rings true here. Usually any boxing gloves under £20 or $25 are cheaply made, offering no real protection. Big brands such as Lonsdale and Everlast often produce these knowing full-well that the people buying them are almost exclusively first-timers who won’t know just how bad the quality is. While they may seem ‘fine for now’, they can actually end up doing more harm to your hands than good, so it’s always better to invest a tiny bit more money and always do your research before buying. We have a huge collection of detailed reviews to help you, but many store websites have their own user reviews to help you as well
The type of training you do will also affect what weight of glove you use. We have a handy guide here to help you work out what size or weight you need. If in doubt, check with your coach.
Hand Wraps/inner gloves
Hand wraps aren’t a necessity to actually train, but they are definitely a necessity for training safely. One of our most popular articles here on Fight Quality is about why you need to wear hand wraps. Every punch you throw creates sudden pressure on the 27 small bones that form the hand. All it takes is one bad punch and you can easily break something. To prevent this, fighters use hand wraps. Hand wraps are rolls of fabric wrapped around the hand to form a protective shock absorbing layer. They support the hand in a way boxing gloves can’t, making sure that there is no accidental movement in the wrist or hand.
There are alternatives which we’ve covered a bit more over on our article about the different types of hand wraps. Inner gloves for example are favoured by some people instead. These typically offer more comfort than support or protection, but are quick to put on.
You can find our hand wrap reviews in the Accessories section, where we’ve compared hand wraps from a range of brands.
Muay Thai Shorts
When training Muay Thai, it’s important to remember that kicks and knees are a large part of the training, so it’s important that you wear shorts which fit well but still have the flexibility to move however your body does.
Traditionally, Thai boxers have their own style of shorts. While some of the designs can seem a little over-the-top to beginners, they are designed to be short so that they don’t get in the way at all. They’re often made of Satin as well, which makes them comfortable to wear even for long periods of time.
We’ve reviewed a range of Thai shorts in our Clothing Reviews section.
If you really aren’t into the traditional shorts, there are other options available. Depending on the gym, they may be happy for you to wear MMA style, or Vale Tudo style shorts, however in competitions almost all Muay Thai fighters wear the traditional style shorts.
The equipment you need for sparring
When sparring you will need a few more items of gear in addition to those mentioned previously. These ensure not only your safety but also the safety of your sparring partner.
Shin guards are the equivalent of boxing gloves for your kicks, formed of a thick padded layer covering the shin and instep. Using shin guards mean that you can practise kicks fairly hard whilst both you and your opponent feel much less of the blow. Most gyms won’t allow you to spar without shin guards.
For advice on different shin guards, take a look at our Shin Guard Reviews.
There are a few different types of shin guards. When you’re training Muay Thai you’ll want to look for ‘striking’ style shin guards and avoid grappling shin guards. Striking shin guards are sturdier and offer the most protection, while grappling shin guards are lighter shin guards, originally designed for MMA, which are also more secure for fighting on the ground.
The body is good at healing itself when injured, but one of the things that can’t heal are teeth, which is why it’s extra important to protect them. Mouthguards don’t prevent knockouts or concussions, but what they do well is absorbing the shock to your mouth, protecting the teeth from impacts.
At a professional level, most fighters get custom fit mouth guards, which can be fairly expensive, so most amateur fighters opt for boil-and-bite mouth guards, which can still offer strong protection. Some gum shield manufacturers add different features to their gum shields, such as breathing holes, or being double sided for both upper and lower protection. Most of the issue with boil and bite gum shields is finding a brand which has a tight, comfortable fit.
You can find our thoughts about various brands under Gum Shield Reviews.
Okay, so this is mainly one for the men out there. The groin is one of the most sensitive parts of the body, and is at high risk of damage when hit by a hard impact. That’s on top of the fact that a strong groin strike can render the toughest of men useless. In Muay Thai, there is always the possibility of a kick accidentally hitting the wrong area, so it’s more important than ever to keep everything protected.
There are a variety of different groin guard styles, however Muay Thai fighters tend to prefer a certain style of steel cup which is tied in place with either laces or straps. Other styles of groin guard are often fine to use, however the larger boxing style groin guards can sometimes limit the flexibility of kicks.
If you’re looking for a new groin guard why not look through our Groin Guard Reviews.
Other equipment you might want
There’s a lot of equipment out there which isn’t important, but can be nice to have, increasing comfort, protection or performance. While these aren’t necessary, they can make good investments which many fighters use frequently.
Ankle supports are often work by kickboxers and Thai boxers for a few reasons. The elasticated nature of ankle supports sit tightly around the foot, offering the joints a little more comfort as they move. They also keep the joint warm which allows it to function better, and less likely to pull or strain the tendons. They also offer a tiny bit of protection when kicking pads or bags, however this depends on the materials.
You can find our Ankle Supports Reviews in the Accessories section.
Similarly to ankle supports, compression shorts sit tightly against the legs, and keep the body warm. They also provide a comfortable layer to wear underneath Thai shorts, which don’t rub at all, and ‘breathe’ to reduce sweat. Many compression shorts also have a built in holder for a groin guard too. These aren’t worn by all fighters, but can provide an alternative option to wear underneath Thai shorts, which also can improve performance.
Our Compression Shorts Reviews can be found in the Clothing Reviews section.
Elbows and knees are often not used much in sparring at a beginner level because of the dangerous nature of the hard bones and how easy it is to accidentally hurt your sparring partner. For anyone looking to incorporate elbows into their sparring it’s a good idea to use protection to protect your opponent. these consist of a padded layer over the joint to reduce the impact of the blow.
Head gear isn’t as common in Muay Thai as it is in boxing for example, mainly because sparring is more all-rounded, and not focused so much on the head. The Thai way of training is often usually lighter and more playful than other boxing and kickboxing training and more focused on technique than hard strikes. For anyone training often though, or who want to go hard when sparring, then a head guard is a good way to ensure that training doesn’t have a negative impact on them over time.
Breathable / Dry-fit Training T-shirt, Compression shirt or Rash Guard
You can wear any old T-shirt for Thai boxing, but seeing as it can be a pretty intense cardio workout, there’s going to be a lot of sweat, which can be quite unpleasant, not to mention that you’ll also likely be sparring or clinching with other people.
Getting yourself a few breathable training shirts like the ones we have in our merchandise store are designed to wick away sweat instead of absorbing it, meaning you won’t feel as hot and damp.
Compression shirts or rashguards are also a good choice. They tend to be more popular among MMA fighters and grapplers, but they can also make a good choice for Muay Thai, and are skin-tight so are less likely to get in the way or caught when opponents kick you.
That’s it for now. Hopefully this should have given you a good breakdown of the equipment you’ll need to get started in Muay Thai. If you have any other questions, tips or suggestions of your own, feel free to leave them in the comments below.