I'm really interested in training Muay Thai, but I really want to avoid any brain trauma. If I spar only lightly (to the head) once a week, will I be able to train for years while staying healthy as I age?

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    I honestly don't think this has been studied. At least I've never seen the data. Light contact to the head, but repeated frequently and over a long period of time may actually contribute to CTE. We don't know if it does or not. And if it does, we don't know how bad it is. All I'll say is light is better than heavy. Go easy on the contact, especially in training (which is where you spend most of your time getting hit). Commented Jan 22, 2021 at 4:34
  • You can always spar without any contact to the head, but full force contact to the body! That will make up for it ...
    – RoundHouse
    Commented Jan 22, 2021 at 10:42

2 Answers 2


There is an old russian wisdom - "who don't take risks would not drink champaign".

If you are aware of brain trauma, maybe it would be better to pick something other - without intensive full-contact punches to the head.

Muay-Thai (along with boxing and KB) do allow strict strikes to the head with arms. And that work is usually very intensive. And, as long as head is a vulnerable part of body, most of punches are aimed to it. For me, working in M-T class without full head punching is like sitting in a car without starting engine. You may learn what is car as whole, but is it enough?

Maybe you should pick up Taekwondo, or Karate - there are plenty of kicks and punches, which are, along with its effectiveness, just beautiful.)


If you still decide to get in - beware of "light sparring" - always be prepared that your sparring turn into a fight-till-ko, because both of you may engage and start hitting hard.

  • That was more of a comment on the effectiveness of light contact training. It doesn't really address the main concern. Besides that, not everyone agrees that hard contact to the head is required in training in order to become competitive. Certainly, you can learn a lot from hard contact. But does it need to be every training session? Can it be once every few months? At what point are there diminishing returns on it? Most expert trainers these days are saying it's bs to go hard during training, period. And there is definitely a growing awareness of CTE and training with frequent hard contact. Commented Jan 22, 2021 at 15:44
  • I see. Just thought, that question relates to it - head injures and hard contact are connected. But if it so inappropriate - mybe I should remove it? How do you think, Steve? Commented Jan 25, 2021 at 7:27
  • No reason to delete it if you think it adds to the discussion. Commented Jan 26, 2021 at 4:04

If you read the more recent studies (which the NFL hid for a long time) they find that head trauma is additive and even mild hits can lead to damage. If you go to pubmed.gov and look up Mild traumatic head injuries you will get many peer-reviewed articles on that. hope this helps

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    Welcome to MartialArts Stackexchange! You've mentioned studies - can you support your answer with some links to it? It would be much better then. PS: -1 not mine Commented Mar 29, 2021 at 14:10

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