By Sean Fagan
Muay Thai is the national sport of Thailand and is beloved by fans around the world. This striking art form involves eight points of contact – two fists, two elbows, two knees, and two shins – making it one of the most dynamic and exciting martial arts disciplines to watch.
The sport of Muay Thai has produced some of the most incredible fighters of all time. Here, we rank the top 3 best Muay Thai fighters of all time.
Samart Payakaroon is widely regarded as the best Muay Thai fighter of all time. Born in 1962 in Bangkok, Thailand, Samart began training in Muay Thai at a young age and made his professional debut at just 14 years old. Over the course of his storied career, Samart won an incredible four Lumpinee Stadium championships across four different weight classes. He was known for his incredible speed, agility, and devastating kicks. In addition to his success in the ring, Samart also had a successful career in boxing,...
Imagine getting coached by Michael Jordan in basketball or getting taught to swim by Michael Phelps.
Well, Sean Fagan got a pretty nice private lesson with their equivalents - one of the greatest Muay Thai fighters of all time, Saenchai.
The man himself needs no introduction, but I will give him one anyway. Saenchai has an overall record of 299 wins, 42 losses, and 5 draws. He is a Lumpinee champion in four different divisions, and is widely considered to be the greatest active Muay Thai fighter on the planet.
He has also not lost since 2014 and is currently riding a 53-fight winning streak. He’s a beast. And you can see the beast in action with Sean Fagan right here:
HOW TO ANALYZE & FIGHT LIKE A FIGHTER
Sean was fortunate enough to train with Saenchai, however, most of us are decidedly not fortunate enough to be in a position like this. Luckily for us, we can...
Getting the chance to watch a legend do what they do best is really quite something.
Now imagine getting to spar with such a legend.
Then imagine getting kicked in the face with that man’s signature techniques.
Embarrassed by a smaller man! Humiliated with technique and tactics Sean's seen a million times before!
But you know what the best part is? I think Sean absolutely fucking loved it.
THE BRILLIANT 'SAMENESS' OF SAENCHAI
Saenchai is one of the greatest Muay Thai fighters of all time, and he is widely considered to be the greatest Muay Thai fighter of today. And it’s easy to see why.
If you’ve seen highlights of the man, you’ll notice that he’s an extremely defensively sound fighter. He is, after all, undefeated since 2014, riding a 53-fight winning streak, and has not been knocked out or even seriously hurt since he was 15 and fighting against Thongchai, who is...
The highest aim of fighting is to hit and not get hit.
You want to knock your opponent’s face into the dirt while yours remains in pristine condition. But without good footwork, you’ll become a human punching bag. And being a human punching bag, surprise surprise, isn’t good for your health. Jumping rope will improve your footwork.
The lightness of your feet will be demonstrated in how you jump rope. If you’re slamming your heels down and jumping too high, how do you think your footwork is going to be? Not great. There are many mistakes people make when jumping rope that completely jeopardizes their training. If you’re uncertain how to use the jump rope to improve your footwork, we’ve got you covered:
The jump rope is a lovely tool that serves as the basis for all of your footwork training. It gives you the endurance and the coordination necessary for all of your movement inside the ring or cage....
It was an absolute honor getting cartwheel kicked in the head by the great Saenchai.
Having a living legend and best pound-for-pound fighter hold a seminar at our Nak Muay Nation Training Camp was one of the MANY amazing highlights of the camp. Besides learning some of Saenchai’s favorite Muay Thai techniques, a handful of us (including myself) had the opportunity to do some light sparring with him too… which was epic!
Take a look at some of the seminar footage which includes my sparring round with him as well as 3 of his favorite Muay Thai techniques:
Saenchai Technique #1: Fake Roundhouse To Teep
Saenchai is known for his tricky kicking techniques so we were all pretty excited when he was showing us things like the fake roundhouse to teep. A major aspect of this technique is having the hip dexterity to start in the trajectory of...
We all know the basic levels of Muay Thai. You start as a beginner, work your way to a more intermediate skill level, and then progress to the advanced stages.
Once you solidify your skills and have the urge to test what you’ve been learning in the ring, the next step is competing as an amateur. After dozens of amateur fights, the next still is becoming a professional fighter.
And the “last” level? That’s when you become a professional champion. But are there levels even above pro champion? You bet your ass there is.
In this weeks podcast, Paul and I discuss the different number of levels there are in Muay Thai, including topics like:
When is the last time you got to shoot practice shots with Michael Jordan?
Can you recall the last time you swapped opening move strategies with Bobby Fischer? Or played a friendly round of 18 holes with Tiger Woods?
Have you ever been granted the amazing opportunity to learn from and practice with a real, live legend of sports?
Well, recently, my friends, I got to do just that. Let me tell you all about my Muay Thai private with the one, the only, the king of the cartwheel kick...
This wasn't my first time meeting Saenchai, but it was the longest private I've ever had with the man. And let me tell you: he is EXACTLY what you think he's like.
"Playful" doesn't begin to describe him. Where do I even begin?? When we sparred, every time he landed clean, he started counting me out... LOL. He's so loose no matter what he's doing or showing you. The constant "oooweee!" coming out of his mouth had me grinning...
High kicks. The golden technique of martial arts and, in many ways, the mark of a good martial artist.
No one just throws a high kick; only people who dedicate their life to martial arts or ballet are able to get their leg that high that easily. Be it Jean Claude Van Damme or Saenchai, everyone who throws a high kick has spent years mastering it. You need great static and dynamic flexibility, great technique and, most important of all, the ability to set up your opponent for that highlight reel KO.
So if you want to be a part of the high kick club, there are a few things that you’ll need to know.
It should come as no surprise to anyone reading this that high kicks require a little bit of flexibility.
After all, if your leg can’t stretch up there comfortably, then there’s not much use kicking here. Lacking flexibility while aiming for a high kick will almost feel like you’re hefting a big...
With a Muay Femur fighter, you are witnessing the technical beauty of Muay Thai. Long-range sniping, clever movements and extreme confidence are hallmarks of the femur style.
Femur (prounounced “fee-meuu”) fighters are the technical fighters every Muay Thai fan thinks of when they think about “beautiful” Muay Thai. These are the fighters that are exciting to watch and you want to emulate their techniques in your own training. Some well-known femur fighters are Saenchai, Sangmanee, Nong-O, Littewada, and Samart.
Femur fighters are slick and have insanely high fight IQ. They have great eyes and use the first round or two to figure out what their opponent’s weaknesses may be. Femur fighters generally look to score, but will go for the knockout if they see it.
The amazing thing about femur fighters is that they’re generally well-rounded – they can use all of...
Observing Saenchai’s skills in person is mentally exhausting.
His raw talent is just mind-blowing and it’s nearly impossible to figure out how he fights so perfectly. I was blessed to watch him teach a session at Phoenix MMA (Bournemouth, UK) and managed to film a lot of the techniques and drills he was demonstrating.
Saenchai has been my idol since I started Muay Thai, so it’s my absolute privilege to share his favourite techniques with you. Whilst they are mechanically quite simple, the timing and precision he performs them with is what makes them so effective:
His unique flexibility allows him to bring his chamber up high with amazing speed and control. When he raises his thigh for a round kick, you have NO idea whether you’re about to get booted in the leg...