The Complete Muay Thai Training Gear Guide
If you plan on training Muay Thai, it is important to choose the right training equipment. If you are just starting out, you only need to show up to training with a few essential items. However, if you plan on getting the full Muay Thai experience, it is important to have the right Muay Thai Gear.
Muay Thai gear is very different than other traditional Martial arts gear you find out there. Since Muay Thai is known as the art of 8 limbs, there are more weapons to learn how to use. When you look at a Karate fighter, they don’t use shin guards because they don’t kick with their shins. They use foot protectors because all their kicks come from the snap of their kicks.
The reason why it is important that you wear protective gear in training is to prevent injuries. Without the right Muay Thai gear, you will end up clashing shins and can get hurt when you spar. Even the pad holder needs to have the right equipment to ensure they can effectively hold their training pads.
This article is going to help you break down everything that you need to know about Muay Thai training gear. This will give you a clear understanding of the essential equipment you need, and the stuff that is optional.
Essential Training Equipment
Muay Thai Shorts
I consider Muay Thai shorts to be the unofficial uniform of Muay Thai. People who are focused on MMA, use MMA shorts in training, while Muay Thai fighters use Muay Thai shorts. This shorts are so bright, colorful and unique, I don’t see why anyone wouldn’t want to wear them.
Some people don’t like Muay Thai shorts because they are too short. If you are somehow self-conscious of your legs, then you can get baggier shorts if you want a little more length. The funny thing about Thai short style is that shorter is better. The more leg, especially upper thigh you expose, the better. Fighters will buy short shorts and then roll them up to be even shorter.
This is what I call the Muay Thai style. Now, if you train at an MMA gym that offers a Muay Thai few classes, you probably don’t need to worry about the Thai style. However, if you are at an authentic Muay Thai gym, you will notice how the fighters all wear their shorts.
When it comes to Muay Thai shorts there are two main types of shorts: Regular and Retro Cut
The main difference between the type of shorts you choose is the length of the short. If you like longer short legs, then you should go with a regular cut short and if you want a shorter leg then go with the retro cut.
Retro style shorts are quite often associated with the brand Yokkao because they do a lot of advertising and all their fighters use the retro shorts on the ads. Most brands offer both styles of shorts, so it comes down to you.
The benefit of the regular style Muay Thai shorts is that you can roll them up Thai Style. The Retro style shorts are not designed to be rolled up, but some fighters do anyways.
Muay Thai Gloves
After a good pair of Muay Thai shorts, the next essential piece of training equipment are your Muay Thai gloves. A good pair of gloves will protect your knuckles from damage when you strike the pads and the heavy bag, and they will also prevent any wrist injuries.
Most of the Muay Thai gloves also come with an attached thumb, which are designed to prevent thumb injuries from occurring.
The big difference between various brands is the design, cushion, and fit of the glove. Every Muay Thai brand manufactures a slightly different type of glove. This means that you need to know what is the difference between the gloves that you choose.
Once you choose your brand, the next step is to pick a color. Most people stick with 4 basic glove colors: black, white, red, blue.
If you purchase a basic glove without a fancy design, it will be slightly cheaper than a designed glove. While every brand offers a lot of fancy choices, most gloves used at the gym are basic single tone colors.
If you are just starting off, you may want to consider buying two pairs of gloves. One glove to use for hitting the pads, and heavy bag, and another set of gloves to use for sparring. Sparring gloves are typically 16 oz. for men and 14 oz. for women. These gloves are designed with more cushion at the front of the glove to prevent injuries during sparring.
Most gyms will require you to bring your own pair of gloves if you want to spar because of sanitary reasons. If you only buy one pair of gloves, I would stick with a 12-oz. pair. You won’t be able to do any hard sparring in these gloves, but you can do some light technical sparring with them on.
Muay Thai Wraps
Muay Thai wraps, also known as Boxing wraps, are designed to protect your wrist and your knuckles. Even though the gloves have cushion and some wrist support, your wraps are going to give you a bit of added protection.
The key with good wraps is to make sure that your wraps have some elastic stretch to them. If you don’t have any stretch in the wrap, it will be uncomfortable when you are wrapping your wrists. You might even notice that your circulation gets cut off when you are finished wrapping your hands.
I cannot tell you how many times have had blue hands because I ended up wrapping my hands too tightly, and the blood stopped flowing to the hands. Whatever you do, just make sure you stick to elastic stretch materials.
Muay Thai Shin Guards
If you plan on sparring, it is important that you own a good pair of shin guards. As a beginner, you will find that your shins get busted up fast. Shin guards are going to keep your protected and prevent you from rolling on the ground in pain when you clash shins.
Everyone has their own preference of shin guards that they use. I like my shin guards a little bit narrower, so it gives my opponent less opportunity to grab my legs. However, the wider shin guards offer more protection around the side of your leg. So, this is a trade-off that you must consider.
Another factor to consider is the length of the shin guard. If you buy a pair of shin guards that is too small for your leg, you will notice the upper portion of your shin exposed. Having this part exposed can result in clashed shins if your opponent kicks higher than your shin guard.
Most Muay Thai shin guards use the hoop and look method of tightening the shin guards. The only thing I’ve found with this is that the metal ring can end up rusting if the shin guards don’t get dried properly after training.
When you are using shin guards, make sure you air them out and wipe them down after training. This will prevent bacteria from growing on the shin guards and will keep you from getting an infection. A good pair of shin guards will last you years if you take care of them.
Do not plan on sparring unless you wear a mouthguard. Don’t even play spar without a Mouthguard. I once chipped my tooth because I was careless and didn’t use a mouthguard. My tooth is still chipped because I didn’t want to pay the dental fees to correct it.
If you break your teeth the damage will costs thousands of dollars. If you haven’t been to see a dentist in a while, the prices are very high. Even in Thailand where medical is cheap, it still costs a decent amount of money to have your teeth fixed.
Wearing a mouthguard will prevent your teeth from breaking, this is important. Another benefit of a mouthguard is it can reduce the risks of concussion. When you are clamping your jaw tight on the guard, it prevents less shake when you get hit with a shot.
Combat mouthguards are also designed to be a little bit bigger and take more damage directly to the Mouthguard. The key with mouthguards is custom fit ones. I’ve used the boil and bit and I can honestly say that the custom fit guards are far superior to the boil and bite ones.
Some people use headgear when they spar and others don’t. This piece of equipment is optional and is usually determined by the culture at your gym. If people use headgear, then it may be a gym rule that requires you to use headgear for training. Conversely, if nobody uses headgear, then the option is completely up to you.
I recommend that people who spar with elbows should wear headgear. I’ve seen too many elbow injuries in training because beginners don’t know how to control their technique. While you may try to hold back your elbow, if you don’t have good control it can end up hurting your opponent.
Headgear is a good idea if you are worried about getting hurt and want to keep yourself protected. If you train in Thailand, the Thai fighters never use headgear in training because of they have full control in training.
If you are sparring with beginners or intermediate students it is important that you buy a good groin protector for training. A groin protector is going to ensure that you don’t drop to the floor in pain when you get hit with a low blow.
While you may like to think, it won’t happen to you, it will happen. I’ve been around long enough to know that it is only a matter of time before someone takes a hard shot that lands on your groin. Groin protector is a must if you train with a lot of people who don’t have good control
If you spar with elbows you should always wear elbow pads. I’ve seen some people cut in training because their sparring partner thought it would be a good idea to throw an elbow without telling them. Nothing is worse than being cut when you don’t need to be cut.
I’ve gotten over 30 stitches on my forehead from the ring, and I can tell you don’t need any unnecessary scars.
Elbow pads give you the ability to work on your elbow distance and timing. It is important to understand that elbow pads will help prevent cuts, they won’t stop the damage from a hard elbow. If you throw a hard elbow and it lands on your sparring partner’s chin, it is going to be lights out for them.
You still need to control your elbows when you throw them in training to prevent any injuries from occurring. I do not suggest you spar with elbows until you are advanced and have a few years of experience.
In Thailand, they generally don’t spar with elbows, so you rarely see elbow pads used. Thais will fake an elbow, but they have great control so the strike never lands. Elbow pads can take getting used to wearing and can often slide out of place if you have a sweaty arm.
I never use knee pads in training. However, if you have bad knees or you want to throw full power knees in sparring go for it. I’ve found that knee pads are a little bit too annoying to use. I know that some people use them in training which is why I am including this on the list of optional stuff.
If you have bad ankles you may want to buy a pair of ankle wraps to wear in training. I don’t recommend you use ankle wraps unless you need them. Since wraps provide you more support when you wear them, they will make your ankles weaker when you don’t have them on.
By not wearing ankle wraps in training it naturally helps you strengthen your ankle, which will reduce the chance that you get injured. Basically, if you don’t need to use them in training then don’t.
Pad Holding Equipment
Muay Thai Pads
An essential piece of equipment that is required for Muay Thai are Thai pads. Most gyms will provide Thai pads for training, but these pads are usually worn down and have been used by hundreds of people. If you own a pair of good Thai pads you won’t have to fight to use whatever scraps are lying around at the gym.
The two things you need to consider when buying Thai pads is the size, and padding. Don’t purchase cheap pads made in Pakistan because they won’t give you good padding when you hold for a heavy kicker. When it comes to Muay Thai equipment, nothing comes close to products that are made in Thailand.
The design of the Thai pad is another thing you should consider. A lot of Muay Thai companies started product curved Thai pads, to simulate pads that are already broken in. Curved pads are more popular because they feel better when you hit them.
If you plan on holding pads for students a good belly pad is important. Belly pads give your student a target when they are throwing their teeps and knees. This adds one extra layer of protection in case the do miss your Thai pads.
Besides knees and teeps, belly pads are great for allowing your student to work on their body shots in training. While it won’t completely stop the impact of the punch, a good belly pad is going to keep you standing after a hard shot.
If you are just starting off I would suggest that you start with the essential items on the list and then work your way down through the optional items. Beginners don’t need to worry about buying sparring gloves until they master the basics and have a few months of training experience.
Too many people want to jump in and start sparring right away, which is terrible for their development. Sparring before you are ready can create a lot of bad habits that are difficult to change later.
A good pair of gloves, shorts, and hand wraps is all you need to get started. Once you gain more experience purchase some stuff you need for sparring. Remember that sparring is supposed to help you develop realistic timing and should not be used as a place to prove toughness.
Good Muay Thai gear should last you at least a few years if you take care of your equipment. Always air dry your stuff out when you are finished using it. Leaving your equipment in your training back all sweaty can result in the growth of bacteria and a very foul odor smell developing.