Muay Thai—More Than Just An Exercise in Self Defense

February 2015 View more

muay thai boxingMuay Thai is known as the “King of the Ring” in kickboxing circles. These fights feature punches, kicks, elbows, knees, standing, grappling and head-butts to wear down and knock out their opponent. Thai training methods develop devastating power, speed and superb cardiovascular endurance.

Ancient Roots

Muay Thai, translated into English as Thai Boxing, is the national sport of Thailand and is a martial art with origins in the ancient battlefield tactics of the Thai army. It’s also known as the science of eight limbs as participants use a combination of eight points including fists, elbows, knees and shins to transform the entire body into a powerful weapon of war.

It is with these same characteristics that this martial art has evolved outside the ring into a popular fitness regimen that is now practiced by a variety of self-defense, sporting, military and law enforcement activities around the world and here in the Naperville area.

“Muay Thai differentiates from other traditional martial arts in that it is purely a combat sport, opposed to arts such as Hapkido used to diffuse an attacker or Tae Kwon Do where competition is based on a point type system,” said Mario Zano owner of Bang Boxing and Fitness in Lisle. “In Muay Thai the ultimate goal is gaining a knock out or stoppage over your opponent.”

Military Precision

Muay Thai is deeply rooted in Thai culture and ingrained in military personnel for it’s extreme effectiveness in close quarter combat. It is used in military and security training because its techniques can quickly stop any attacker within arms reach. It doesn’t take years to learn the techniques properly and it doesn’t take any extra athletic ability or strength to execute a powerful attack with proper training and technique.

Ultimate Workout

Since it is both a high-impact cardio workout and a toning exercise, there are impressive fitness benefits associated with practicing Muay Thai. “Muay Thai training for a fitness based activity is a workout second to none in pushing your limits and burning calories while working on real techniques that could save your life one day,” said Zano. “Our training style of ‘getting for without getting hit’ has proven to be an effective mix of real Muay Thai training techniques that build muscle and tone the body without the risks of training as a fighter looking to fight.”

Muay Thai offers a full-body workout and promotes weight loss by burning large amount of calories. According to, participants can burn between 500 and 600 calories in a single one-hour workout session. It can also reduce stress and high blood pressure, increase coordination, and improve posture and flexibility. The cardio workout also releases a hormone called endorphins, which can have a positive impact on your overall mood and increase your self-confidence.

Future Fighters

Zano begin training in kickboxing and practicing Muay Thai in 2003 and took his first fight at the age of 19 against a 36 year-old trained kickboxer, which he won in a unanimous decision. Zano continues his training and also shares his passion for Muay Thai with others at his a semi-private training facility in Lisle. According to Zano, the gym focuses on women, children and other people who are normally overlooked by other gyms.

“Our classes are small so everyone gets the individual attention they need to actually learn and grow without having to pay the hourly prices for a private lesson,” said Zano. Bang Boxing also offers boot camp style classes, general strength and conditioning, Dutch style kickboxing, boxing and mixed martial arts classes.

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