There are styles in Muay Thai. Then there are the Muay Mat. The technical brawlers use power to take out their opponents. And the Muay Mat มวยหมัด style is exciting. The heavy-handed punchers come in dropping bombs.
Rebellion Muaythai Hall Of Fame Alumni, Don Millar of Supafight Gym understands what makes a great Muay Mat fighter; and how to create one.
We interviewed Don Millar for 5 essential facts about the Muay Mat fighter:
1.How To Build A Muay Mat fighter
Millar is heavily influenced by Sangtiennoi Sor Rungroj and builds this style the old school way. That means lots of hard work with the primary tool being pad work.
“We do extra rounds staying close,” Millar said. “We work hands like body rip uppercut combos. Staying nice and close, putting the pressure on going forward.”
Millar is a big fan of repeated rounds drilling the same combinations to build the Muay Mat
“Do a combo 10 times,” Millar said. “If one of those punches is not hard enough then you do it all again.”
Muay Mat fighters must be able to have KO ability. It’s their ability to do damage with one or two big shots that makes them so fearsome. Building that explosive work comes from emphasis. It’s power, power, and more power.
This is in stark contrast to other styles. The Muay Khao (clinch and knee) style relies on conditioning and grit. The Muay Fimeu (technical) style relies on timing and technique.
Muay Mat just want the explosive shots.
The heavy bag is underutilized as a tool for power development and conditioning. The same combinations used on the pads, work again on the bag.
Millar summed it up.
“It’s nothing fancy, just over and over hitting harder. Hitting as hard as you can each time and doing it for a long time. More heavy bag work as well at the end of training,” he said.
2.Muay Mat In Action
With over 30 shows under its promotional belt, Rebellion’s seen all sorts of fighters. One of the Muay Mat that have come through is Sam Bark. The Swedish fighter is nicknamed Sammon Dekker, after the legendary Ramon Dekkers.
“Sam Bark, people class him as a Muay Mat,” Millar said. “He’d throw heavy punches.”
His fight with Roy Wills is a classic example of the Muay Mat style in action. In that fight, Bark used his hands to set up powerful shots.
“He measures like a boxer off the lead hand,” commentator Mark Hammer Castagnini said of Bark.
3. The Range To Be In
All Muaythai fighters need to understand distance, but this is particularly important for the Muay Mat. The kicking range is furthest away followed by long knees. The punching range is close and is considered mid-range while elbows and knees in the clinch are the closest.
Using the lead hand to gauge distance is classic Muaythai, and is a technique used often by the Muay Mat to set up their power punches.
“It’s very Sangtiennoi style. It’ll be touch, touch, touch, with your lead hand to get in. Then you land those power shots,” Millar said.
The lead hand sets up a rhythm as well as measuring the distance. This makes powerful combinations easier to land when the Muay Mat fighter is close in.
The other way to get into range is to use fakes.
“I’m training my fighter Kenta Sawa, another Muay Mat, to fake,” Millar said. “He moves in, moves out, but then when he gets in, he causes a bit of damage.”
Watch Kenta Sawa at work here.
The fakes keep the boxer out of range from the kicks. It also draws out the attacks which the Muay Mat can then utilize to close in the range and land their shots.
4. How To Fight Muay Mat
Taking on a Muay Mat requires a solid chin and excellent defense. The primary goal is to stop the hands.
An example was when Tum Winner Muay Thai fought Sam Bark.
Tum defused Sam Bark very effectively by grabbing Bark when the heavy-handed fighter got in close.
“He would wrap him up and try to dump him or negate him,” Millar said.
The Thai fighter maintained the correct range in the fight. Bark needed to stay in the medium punching range. Tum used stalling clinch techniques to draw him in or would use long range attacks to keep Bark at bay.
Bark fell into the clinch because he wasn’t able to position himself.
“The Muay Mat has to know how to clinch. They have to know all the tricks of the game as well,” Millar said.
Learning the trade is easier by looking at the past.
“In the golden era of the 80’s there was Samransak Muangsurin (สำราญศักดิ์ เมืองสุรินทร์),” Millar said.
Samransak was a two-time Lumpinee stadium Featherweight Champion. He battled famed fighters such as Coban Lookchaomaesaitong, Sakmongkol, and Orono Por Muang Ubon.
In Samransak’s battle against Samart Payakaroon all the Muay Mat traits were on display, both good and bad.
Samart uses long push kicks on Samransak. The heavy-handed boxer responded by keeping the pressure on and utilizing his jab to get in.
Another example is Den Muangsurin (เด่น เมืองสุรินทร์).
“He fought everyone,” Millar said. He fought Raymond Dekkers three times. They fought in Macau in 1995.”
The last example would be Anuwat Kaewsamrit (อนุวัฒน์ แก้วสัมฤทธิ์). “The Iron Hands of Siam” as he was known, is a former Lumpinee and Rajadamnern Champion. He battled the best of his time including Liam Harrison.
Rebellion rewards athletes that embody the Muay Mat style with a cash prize and award named after Anuwat.
The first recipient of this award was Samuel Bielen of Belgium following his battle against Carter Lawrance on Rebellion 28.
Knock Out Power
A fighter’s style is a part of their personality. The Muay Mat is explosive, aggressive, and dangerous. Understanding how they work and why helps grow the sport and make it more beautiful.