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Is the style effective?

Yes, very much so. I've spent most of my life studying one martial art or another, and many of the concepts in Muay Chaiya are very progressive and sometimes almost beautiful in their simplicity. The basic guard is strong, a lot of emphasis is put on footwork and the style of fighting is very pragmatic. One of the basic principles is to hurt the opponent's weapons (e.g. arm leg etc) at any given opportunity, hence the focus on blocking with the elbows and knees. The elbows and kicks are the bread and butter of Chaiya, but a huge amount of work goes into developing a student's 'boxing' skills. Many techniques have a feel of western boxing and Jeet Kune Do concepts mixed together, and quite often the shortest, most simple route is the best (no superfluous moves).
In recent years, Baan Chang Thai have produced several capable students, including Tae Chaiya (as seen in the ‘Chaiya’ movie who is one of the best stand up fighter’s I’ve had the pleasure to know) and has proved himself in the ring on many occasions, Kruu Aof is Baan Chang Thai’s main teacher (under Kruu Lek of course!) who is also a very capable fighter, great teacher and close friend. Kruu Pedro who’s persona reminds me a stalking tiger, has proven himself on many occasions. And there is also young Yao (sorry, not sure of surname who has had little problem proving herself in the ring (check out the youtube video YouTube - (Female fighter) Yao fights Muaythai @ Phuket Thailand for a nice example of the Muay Chaiya ram muay and a good fight).

A lot of the footage you see is of the more ‘flashy’ moves which are called the Look Mai (I believe this is why this was thread started) which are mostly advanced moves, and should only be used by experienced fighters. The core of the art is the basics, and the advanced Look Mai should be reserved for ‘the right moment’ in a fight, as they can be vulnerable to counter attack by competent, fresh fighters. To pull these moves of correctly when fighting a ‘real’ fighter, lots of practice and experience is required.

When fighting in Muay Chaiya, the range is primarily controlled using fast and hard kicks to the lower and upper legs and knees. Higher kicks are reserved for ‘the right moment’ as any proficient fighter knows that high kicks can put you in a very vulnerable position. Once the range is closed, the elbows really come into play, and Muay Chiaya has a variety, each with their one usage for both attack and defense.

Obviously, sparring is tricky in any martial art, and certain restraints have to be put down. When we spar at Baan Chang Thai, the only thing we remove is any dangerous Look Mai, and the elbows. Heaviness of sparring is up to the students! It’s important to note that we do learn to fight! Not the showy style that you’ve probably seen on a lot of online videos. Sometimes we enjoy western boxing if we feel lazy or just to preserve our shins, as attacking someone who blocks with the elbows and knees can be very painful! Experienced fighters (with the right attitude) are welcomed, as it gives our students the opportunity to gain variety in their training.

Muay Chaiya and Groundwork
Some people think that Muay Chaiya should have groundwork, and this I disagree on. Martial arts have this striking/groundwork 'separation' because each area is vastly different in style and concept, and there is a huge amount of detail to be learned within each style. Coming from a Jeet Kune Do background, I feel that if you want to be a fully rounded fighter, then you should mix the styles you learn, but the styles shouldn't be mixed for you to learn (if that makes sense). Find a great master in each field, and then master them to your own capabilities. Gone are the days where you had to sign your life to a single master!

I would like to mention the venerable Kruu Pedro who runs a Muay Thai school in Chiang Mai. Kruu Pedro as a wonderful person who has taken the task of seeking out as many of the authentic SEA martial arts to combine them into his own style Muay Sangka. Kruu Pedro has a great amount of experience in both Muay Thai and ground fighting and has practical experience in the ring, both in Muay Thai and MMA. If you want to learn a more ‘full’ system, then please check out his website to learn more.


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  2. I checked the match of Yao and I was impressed by her solid stance and pure techniques. Chaiya is a new thing to me but you seem to emphasize the foundation which to me has always been the key to mastering any muay thai technique. With so much mixed martial arts nowadays I'm delighted that the core of these traditional thai martial arts is not forgotten. Keep up the good work.

  3. Thanks for the comment Anon, yes Yao is a confident little cookie with a solid style ;)

    The foundations of Muay Chaiya are the key, but people are mostly interested in the more 'flashy' techniques of the old styles of Muay Thai, which is a shame because they have a lot to offer to people who are willing to take the time to learn.


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