An important and somewhat controversial discussion has come to light in the past few weeks regarding how Muay Thai bouts should be scored. Unfortunately in America, some commissions and sanctioning organizations have yet to differentiate between scoring an MMA fight, boxing match, or kickboxing match and a Muay Thai fight. Muay Thai is scored differently than any of the previously mentioned styles of martial arts. In my humble opinion, Muay Thai should be scored as such. If we are going to call it Muay Thai, than it should be judged as Muay Thai. Because this is a sport which we (the U.S.) did not create, we must stay true to the traditional style of scoring in order to truly call it Muay Thai.
I have seen and read about other bloggers telling fighters that they should change their styles “to finish fights” or stating that the scoring for Muay Thai in the U.S., “is simply different than that of the rest of the world.” If we are going to score under K-1 Rules or “Modified Muay Thai rules”, than we should say so outright and not water down the sport of Muay Thai by scoring it differently than in the traditional manner.
Below is an article by our resident World Champion and blogger, Rich Cadden about how a Muay Thai contest is and should be scored. Also be sure to read the other links provided by Rich in the article as they are also very informative.
Article taken from the Chok Dee York Blog…
Another post which will generate some interest, while also following on from Damien Trainors blog (my literary sparring partner-in-crime) on Muay Thai scoring, I thought I would explain Muay Thai scoring from my perspective.
First and fore-most, I think it’s important to get a few fundamental ground-rules understood first.
• A Muay Thai fight is scored as a complete fight, rather than 5 individual rounds
• Muay Thai is scored on effect and balance
Muay Thai is NOT scored on
• Number of shots landed
• Aggression/ who comes forwards
• It is not scored the same as Western Boxing or Kickboxing
So, let’s go through these agreements in a bit more detail.
Muay Thai is scored as a complete fight, not 5-individual rounds
If two guys were having a fight in a street, and they were closely matched, there would end up with a mutual agreement to who had won and who had lost. One fighter may be getting the better of each exchange, or one fighter may be hitting harder than the other guy putting him off. One way or another, both guys come to an understanding to who has won.
Note to reader: Although I have used a ‘street fight’ as an example, we by no means condone street violence
This is very similar to a Muay Thai contest. It just so happens to be split in to 5 rounds, but it does not change the overall ethos that both fighters are fighting for 15-minutes (5×3-min rounds).
So if this was a street fight and both guys knew how ‘hard’ the other guy was before the start of the fight, Fighter A may not be inclined to dive straight in and try and blast out Fighter B as he knows how strong, resilient and well trained he is. This is why Muay Thai fights may seem slow-paced in the early rounds as they are testing each other’s reflexes and strategies, but there is more going on than meets the eye.
As both fighters then know there is a limited window of opportunity (15-mins) to put their stamp on the fight, some fighters may look for a continual high-pace, whereas others may look for a ‘sprint-finish’.
I think one of the best metaphors for Muay Thai scoring has to be Kelly Holmes winning a Gold Medal on the Athens 800m Olympics. She stayed with the pack and was jockeying for position for the first 500m, and then started her assault from the back of the pack. By 600m she was in the middle of the leading group, and coming in to the last 100m she attacked to win that gold medal.
What you will notice on this is that it doesn’t matter who was leading for the other 780m of the 800m race. It’s all about timing your performance and knowing when to assert yourself to gain enough advantage to win. If she had mis-timed her assault then she would have burnt out too soon and not won. This is why more experienced fighters show this level of caution and choose when to time their attack.
Muay Thai is scored on effect.
Using this street fight analogy again….. If a 5yr old child wanted to fight a 20yr old man (regardless of social ethics, right/wrong etc) the 5-year old child could throw 50-punches at the adult with no effect to his balance or demeanour. The 20yr old adult could throw one shot and have ultimate success with that one shot, knocking the child off his feet.
Although I have used pictures from boxing to illustrate my point, this was just for convienience.
The word ‘Effect’ just means that the fighter loses position and loses balance, so any kind of ‘stumble’ or ‘panicked move’ implies that the fighter has lost composure and the opposing fighters shots have been effective.
This works both ways too….. So if the fighter throws a technique, it lands on target, but then loses balance when he is coming back to his stance, this basically negates the success of the technique which has landed as, as the fighter has lost position, displaying lack of control.
So, the fighter being kicked, lifts up his block, but as the kick is so powerful, he stumbles backwards and loses position. This is still a scoring technique…..obviously not as valued as a shot that lands on target but yet still showing effect, power and composure which are the key points in Muay Thai scoring
So finally, just going back to the Kelly Holmes video, and mapping that across in to a Muay Thai perspective. For the first 3 rounds Kelly was blocking, defending and attacking well, but then in round 4 started to up the pace and have more success with her attacks (putting in more work, yet still not taking that lead), then in round 5, continuing that assault, building on the success from round 4, to snatch the win right at the end of the fight.
More information about Muay Thai scoring can be found in this article, which is written by Dr Tony Myers, the lead proponent and expert in Muay Thai in the UK.