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Muay Thai Is Not Your Auntie's Kickboxing Class

But she should come!

“Everybody you fight is not your enemy and everybody who helps you is not your friend.” – Mike Tyson


When it comes to self-defense classes, the choices can be as varied as a buffet spread. Among these options, cardio kickboxing and Muay Thai often find themselves in the same category. While cardio kickboxing does offer an engaging workout, it might not be the most effective way to learn self-defense.

Cardio kickboxing focuses primarily on getting your heart pumping and torching calories. While it's a fantastic fitness routine, it tends to lean more towards choreographed sequences that might not always translate seamlessly to real-world self-defense scenarios.

On the other side of the ring, we have Muay Thai, a full-contact martial art that's as authentic as it gets. Muay Thai not only hones your physical fitness but also equips you with a comprehensive set of combat skills. From punches to kicks, elbows, and clinching techniques, Muay Thai covers the entire spectrum of self-defense. Its emphasis on practical application and live sparring ensures that you're well-prepared for any confrontation.

So, while cardio kickboxing is a fun way to break a sweat and build some basic coordination, when you step into a Muay Thai class you're not just learning to throw punches, you're mastering the art of protection one well-executed technique at a time. If you're aiming to truly master the art of protecting yourself, Muay Thai steps into the ring as the heavyweight champion of combat training.



The colorful headband worn by Muay Thai fighters is more than just a headband.

The tradition of wearing a Mongkon (or Mongkol, or Mongkhon) dates back to ancient Thailand, when warriors would tie cloth around their heads as a talisman and chant Buddhist prayers prior to battles. This tradition and practice have made their way to Muay Thai competitors when they enter the ring and are worn during the Wai Khru ceremony in the ring. This brings the fighter luck and protects them from possible danger.

Traditionally, fighters earn their Mongkon after rigorous training, signifying their readiness to honorably represent the Muay Thai camp in the ring. The coach must be fully confident in the student's skills. The Mongkon is worn not only to show respect to the coach, school, and sport, but also to express gratitude and solidarity with those who supported the fighters on their challenging journey to the fight.


RSLNT is a Muay Thai apparel company owned and operated by former Muay Thai fighter and practitioner Eric Capo.

How did you get started in Muay Thai?

I had a Groupon for I love kickboxing and the owner of the gym was an MMA instructor. After class I would see guys sparring and asked him about a Muay Thai. My first gym was called called NY Sanda and then I ended up at Chok Sabai. I fought my first smoker after three months of training.

How did you get into creating an apparel company? What makes RSLNT different from some of the other Muay Thai brands?

I’ve been in the fashion industry for 21 years. I worked for a dress company sewing and focusing on construction, fit, and quality. With my years of experience with FIT and many connections with factories and designers, I decided to launch RSLNT during the pandemic and it's been live since April 20, 2020.

What are your hopes for the company?

I want to continue to grow as a brand and expand into other martial arts like BJJ, boxing, and MMA with additional products such as rashguards, etc. I want to work with more with fighters, especially fighters who don’t have as much exposure, and help them grow their careers. And I want to continue to partner and sponsor shows, and affiliates.

What sets your brand apart?

What sets our design apart is fit. My experience in fashion and expertise in comfort has helped me to design shorts and make adjustments for every type of body style.

When do I know i'm ready to wear Muay Thai shorts?

Muay Thai shorts are becoming as popular as basketball shorts or Nike shorts. Whenever you feel comfortable and confident to wear them. Never a wrong time for it.

Get 15% off using code: “CLINCHINSIDER” - rslntfightwear.com



I have been training 3-4 times a week for about 6 months and I think I am ready to spar but how do I know for sure?

This is a great question that comes up all the time and throughout my years as a Muay Thai practitioner, and now as a seasoned gym owner, I’ve seen different philosophies on this. There is no right or wrong answer, but there are definitely things to consider depending on how your gym approaches sparring.

Your gym allows people to spar immediately:

This gym philosophy might seem appealing at first because there are no prerequisites to jump into the sparring class, but in the long run it can create a dangerous environment. Padwork and drills are necessary to learn the fundamentals of stance, footwork, and technical striking. This foundation is what enables you to spar with control as you apply your skills to a real combat situation, while keeping both you and your training partner safe.

When I was still quite inexperienced at Muay Thai, I went to a gym where I was given a sparring package which included headgear, shin guards, and 16 oz gloves. I purchased a mouthpiece and attended sparring only a few weeks in. I proceeded to go hard with all my training partners and vice versa, and very often went home with a headache. Many years later, I realized that those sparring sessions were very unproductive, they were not helping me advance my skills, and those headaches were dangerous.

So although some gyms allow you to spar without tests, rankings, or coach’s approvals, I would be cautious about sparring too early in your training. Sparring early doesn’t necessarily help improve your skills and one bad sparring session could turn someone away for life.

Your gym makes you pass a test before sparring: 

Some Muay Thai gyms employ skill tests and rankings similar to the way that Tai Kwon Do or Braziling Jui Jitsu have belts, and at a certain ranking or level you are given the green light to attend sparring class. I’ve never experienced one of these gyms, but it could be a safe way to ensure that the coach has been watching this individual, invited them to take a test to showcase their skills, and has determined that they are technically sound to spar.

This approach is sometimes difficult to implement as the testing typically requires you to pay a fee for the extra classwork needed to fulfill the test, and not everyone wants to pay or is patient enough in their Muay Thai journey to wait for this testing to spar. The appeal of watching your classmates sparring while you have to wait to be tested could cause members to find new gyms that allow you to spar immediately. On the positive side, you’ll find much more controlled and experienced training partners once you enter the sparring class.

So in conclusion, what do I advise?

In my opinion the best approach is a hybrid model of this where there are no tests or certifications to allow you to spar but the class shouldn’t be open to everyone. You should be comfortable throwing combinations using all the strikes on pads, have experience drilling (with shinpads) both offense and defense with a partner, and you should own all the proper equipment to spar, including shin pads, knee pads, 16 oz. gloves, and mouthguard. Most importantly, TALK TO YOUR COACH – ask them if they think you are ready to spar and, if not, what you need to work on to be ready.

For your first few sparring sessions you should tell your training partners that you are new to sparring. Your coach should be watching you during your first few sessions to make sure you’re not hitting too hard and that your partner is not as well. You should get feedback from your training partners and your coaches after each session to ensure you are sparring in a safe and technical way. And the best way to know that you made the right decision to spar, is when you had a great time being punched and kicked and can’t wait to come back for more!

Hope this helps answer when you’re ready to spar and I’ll see you on the mats.

If you have a question for the editor that you’d like featured in an upcoming editition of Clinch Insider, feel free to email us at: [email protected]