I’m often asked why Thais are so powerful without using resistance training.
And here’s one I received recently…
“I keep thinking that real power comes from perfect technique which is comes out of a result of hours and hours of repeating the same movement year after year that’s why you see some small skinny guy who you wouldn’t think nothing of to later find out he is the hardest puncher and kicker because he has a great technique and the ability to use his whole body to maximise power in every shot
“I keep thinking that if strength and conditioning made you punch harder and gave you the knock out power then everyone would just lift weights instead of doing MUAY Thai
“And then lastly I watched this video made by Firas Zahabi in which he said that strength and conditioning can make you hit harder but only to a certain extent dependent on ones genetic makeup and he said you can’t get an average guy and get him to eventually have the knockout power like Mike Tyson, he said that you either have it or not and usually you know if you have that knockout power at the beginning of your MUAY Thai journey
“I know this is long but I take MUAY Thai real serious and I’m all about channeling my energy in things that can make a real difference since a MUAY Thai career is very short”
To figure out the truth, we first need to understand what we mean by the term “power”.
Most Thai boxers will assume a fighter is powerful if (compared to their body weight) they can deliver a hard strike on the pads.
But this blurs the distinction between efficient Muay Thai technique, and raw biomechanical power.
These are the two key performance factors affecting how much power is delivered into a target.
Thai nak muays don’t waste any of the power they have. With beautiful, efficient Muay Thai technique, they can repeatedly deliver most of the physical power they have into a target.
Traditional Thai-style training doesn’t develop power. That’s a misconception. Through the lens of sports science, Thai-style training develops economy of skilled movement – efficiency.
The training methods used in Thailand can’t exploit a fighter’s genetic power potential because…
Physiologically the resistance used isn’t high enough, the repetitions completed are too high, and the rest intervals are too short.
However, because of the high volume of practiced repetitions, Thai nak muays appear powerful, without actually being powerful.
Imagine a fighter throwing their strongest body kick into a heavy bag set up with force measuring transducers to record the impact.
Warmed up, but completely rested, the fighter gives their best effort in an attempt to get the highest reading possible in one shot.
We could breakdown the maximum potential power delivery into three stages: