Grading in Muay Thai


Yellow Belt
Jul 6, 2005
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Just started doing some Muay Thai at a local club to suppliment my BJJ and TJJ. Been going 6 weeks now and really enjoying it and improving really quickly. Have gloves, shin pads, mouth guard, jock-strap and have been learning basic stance, leg kicks, checking kicks (very useful) and basic movement.

After paying up for my life membership and insurance. I got given all the stuff about the club, including price list of equipment, membership card, insurance and a grading list!

Never thought you graded in MT, thought it was like boxing (don't tell me you grade in boxing as well). There's techniques to learn and show infront of a 3 person grading panel for each grade. There's about 8-10 grades. Starting at white. Guessing the string bands around people's biceps are there grading.

Do all MT clubs grade? Hope this isn't a noob question. I've graded in Aikido, TJJ and am hoping to get my blue belt in BJJ at some point. Now looks like I can grade in MT as well! Not sure if I need to or not. Is it like in other TMA where you can only progress if you grade?
thai boxing to my knowledge produces fighters and not belts

does this gym that your going to (you american based?) produce any fighters (and even better, any well known/highly ranked ones), were you hesitant to go the first few times because of the atmosphere?
Based in the UK. No belts, just string things on the arm! It's a bit of a stange one. There's quite a few women in the class and they play music to warm up to and then special 3-minute round music to train to. Every exercise or sparring is done in 3-minute rounds, which I'm guessing is good. Seem to get a few people there to lose weight and get fit, so a little Thai-Bo. But there's live sparring every session with gloves and shin guards. Guessing you tailor your sparring to who you're sparring with.

There are fighters there, who regularly fight in shows. The Club has a good reputation due to it's fighters who regularly win. No sure if it's full Thai rules or Thai boxing rules. The instructor is also really good (although I've no experience in much stand-up).

Happy with the club and with what I'm learning, just wanted to know if it's the norm or not! Didn't think I'd be grading!
Some Gyms (in the UK anyway) have introduced a grading system. IMO it is pointless. I believe it was Master Sken who came up with the system.
At Vos Gym we have graduations too. Sofar mostly in the fighter's class and the graduation consists of sparring with the other fighters one after another untill the trainer (Ivan Hippolyte) says stop. If the fighter doing the exam quits himself he failed.
Elpresidente said:
Some Gyms (in the UK anyway) have introduced a grading system. IMO it is pointless. I believe it was Master Sken who came up with the system.

wouldn't surprise me if he had, he came from a bit of a TKD beckground.
He's a good fighter, good trainer and nice guy by all accounts, but he is a bit of a go getter when it comes to business and money making.

What gym is it katolotus, where are you based in the uk?

Also note; just because they do a lot of shows don't mean they're any good...ever heard of cannon fodder (do they win at these shows)
I'm in Bedford and the club is EAST AREA. I'm told they win quite a bit and have a good rep. Not really worried as long as I'm learning, which I am. My only really complaint is the sessions aren't long enough at 1 hour. Could do with a longer session. Cost is
Wow, they charge you for gradings? That usually isn't a good sign. What exactly do you mean by uniform?

The gym I train at has boxing and MT. Every six months or so our coach will ask someone to come in at a time when the gym is empty so he can "test" you, but it doesn't involve belts or money or anything; he just likes to kick you out of the nest every few months and see what you can do without him helping you. Even that is not so common in MT gyms.

If you're learning then that's the important thing, but i've never heard of grading in MT before.
We had a form of advancement (no belts). In that the classes were broken into 'basic', 'intermediate' and 'advanced'. The classes were held at different times. You had to demonstrate reasonable profiency at one level before being allowed into the next class. It kept the classes flowing and the instruction appropriate for the vast majority of people on the mat at any time.

Adjarn Chai's TBA has a form of grading (again no belts) but it is more to do with an instructor route as you advance.
There have been a few threads on this. No, there is no grading system. You won't find any belt/grading systems in thailand. As they say, the belt is in the ring.

Some schools have introduced belt systems or arm band systems as a way to make additional money by charging for belt tests or because western students who are familiar with belt systems need to be able to validate their progress.
My MT does grade people, I think it is a good idea, it lets people know where they are at.
I hate when gyms go Corporate, and need some sort of grade-structure with which to base charging money on.
In my gym we have different classes in wich you train, beginners, advanced and fighting. No need for grading IMO, you get a feeling how good you are depending on how bad you get your ass kicked during sparring.
The arm bands (kata sp?) should not be used for rankings. They are used to place amulets inside and are decorated based on gym, location, background, etc. They have a very similar role as the monkong. Like the relationship with kru and monk, they serve another purpose. IMO, very disrespectful if speaking about pure muay thai.
My school uses a simple grading system (4 colors) too just to differentiate between skill levels. You get the last one only after winning a professional fight...and the one before when you compete in the ring.

I like what an earlier poster said about Vos gym...that sounds like a good idea
Think of it like boxing. There's no belt system in boxing, other than championship belts.
As mentioned earlier, MT is more about the fighters rather that the belts (or rank) But i think school outside of Thailand use a basic type of ranking. White = Beg, yellow = inter etc... But these are mostly for what time your class will be at. The schools here in Toronto i think use T-Shirts/Shorts to show your level.

It really all depends on what you want to get out of it. I train in MT as well, but there is no grading, just new drills, and techniques. I find majority of it is conditioning and technique. MT has really improved my stand-up game, especially the use of elbows and knees.