Can Muay Thai Be Self Taught?

Martial arts have only gotten more and more popular over the years! And one of the most popular for a while has been Muay Thai. So many people are attracted to this fantastic striking art.

And, of course, there are a lot of people who wonder whether it’s possible to learn Muay Thai on their own, without an instructor!

Can Muay Thai Be Self Taught

What You Want To Hear

The thing that every martial arts practitioner and student would absolutely love to be true is the idea that they can train at home by watching some videos on YouTube!

Or that you can simply read a book or website that will teach you a technique, and you’ll instantly not only know how to do it, but you’ll be able to apply it flawlessly every time.

Indeed, there’s a famous film that covers this idea! The Korean film Oldboy features a character who is kidnapped, imprisoned, and isolated from the outside world for many years.

During his imprisonment, he teaches himself how to fight solely by watching martial arts movies.

And, indeed, once he escapes his imprisonment, he has become a seriously tough guy, able not only to perform martial arts fighting techniques, but is able to put up with damage and pain in order to win fights against even multiple opponents.

This, in short, sounds amazing. How great would it be to be able to learn to fight entirely by watching videos? The truth of the matter, however, is that reality simply gets in the way.

That’s not to say that there aren’t things that you can learn from books, videos, websites, etc – and they can certainly be valuable resources to boost and bolster the knowledge that you already have about martial arts!

However, there’s absolutely no replacement for practical experience and tuition. So, when it comes to learning Muay Thai, you may be able to pick up some moves.

You might learn the basic mechanics of throwing strikes, or how to (theoretically) land a sweep or a trip after a grab.

However, there’s one absolutely huge thing that you simply can’t get if you’re learning Muay Thai, or any other martial art for that matter, on your own.

Resistance And Reality

The thing you’re missing out on, and that you’ll get at all decent martial arts schools, including Muay Thai, is resistance.

The simple fact of it is that you have absolutely no idea whatsoever whether a certain move or technique can possibly work unless you’ve tried it against a resisting opponent.

It’s really easy to think that we can learn the basic mechanics of a martial arts technique and simply perform it.

We put our hands here, our legs here, and all of a sudden magic happens and the opponent succumbs to our will, right? And, of course, in reality, you get punched in the mouth and it completely shakes any ability you had right out of you.

The enemy simply decides that they’re not going to let you have your fun, and decides to have their fun instead.

If you’re not training with resistance, you’re not training. At best, you’re deluding yourself into thinking that you’re training. And, as soon as you come up against someone who won’t simply let you land your favored technique, you’re going to be in a world of trouble!

This is perhaps one of the key reasons why it’s impossible to learn any martial art on your own, including Muay Thai. You can teach yourself moves, sure. You can learn the theory of techniques, and how you should do them.

But if you never have to try them against someone who won’t simply lert you have your way, then you have NO IDEA whatsoever if any of this stuff works.

Ask any boxer! You can shadowbox to your heart’s content, and pretend you’re the world champ. Get punched hard in the face just once, however, and you quickly learn just how quickly one single strike can disabuse you of these fantasies.

Training in a martial art without any resistance simply isn’t real training.

At some point, you have to try out the things you’ve learned against someone who wants to stop you, and learn how to use martial arts techniques even against someone who is resisting with everything they’ve got.

Get An Instructor And Take Classes

With this in mind, the absolute best thing that anyone who wants to learn a martial art like Muay Thai can do is to find an instructor and start taking lessons.

No matter how much you think you might be able to learn on your own at home, you’re simply doing yourself a disservice if you never get some actual tuition!

A good instructor doesn’t only know all the techniques, but they’ve got experience in using them against resisting opponents. And, frankly, that’s the only way that any martial artist can have any idea of whether the stuff they’re learning works or not!

If you train regularly with a good instructor, and have to practice your techniques against someone who’s not letting you have an easy time of it, then you’re going to learn better than a student who never gets to try techniques out against a resisting opponent.

You’ll understand the limits of your body, as well as the limits of the techniques you’re learning. You’ll learn what works well, what doesn’t, what’s easy, and what’s difficult.

What you’re learning will mean something, as you’ll be practicing techniques against someone who is trying to stop them from working!

So, never be fooled into thinking that you can learn anything about martial arts in a vacuum. Nothing you can learn in any martial art means anything until you understand how to do it against someone who doesn’t want you to succeed!

This is as true in Muay Thai as it is in any other martial art!


WHile you might be able to learn how to do some moves on your own, you’ll never have any idea of whether they’ll work or not unless you try them against a resisting opponent. Instead of practicing at home, take a class!

Christopher Anderson
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