I have moved cities and have found a new Muay Thai gym. The training in this gym is very different. When they train they use thai pads less often and do drills. When doing the drills they hit quite hard, especially on the low kicks which I find to be pointless. In sparring they can't go light and hit with momentum and throw dangerous moves. I have had a flying knee hit me in the face (not too hard), I have seen another guy get an elbow to on the back of his neck and haven't seen him in weeks, while boxing I got a very strong hook that gave me a huge black eye (after asking for them to go lighter). I am not afraid of getting hit, but it feels like there is a difference when people are looking out to not cause damage and put some fail safes on. The couches seem to be ok with this. I complained and they justified it. Last week during a seminar in knee drills a guy thought he had his rib broken.

What are signs that a gym is dangerous and should be avoided?

What types of injuries can be expected from sparring in practice?


4 Answers 4



Get out. Get out now. As in, do not train there even one more time.

There is always the chance of being injured in any martial art. That's true of any active sport, of course--but "combat sports" have an intention of everyone getting hit, kicked, etc. The requirement for safety is therefore paramount. You need to train safely if you are going to be able to last any length of time in this environment. Training is a marathon, not a sprint. You should do it in ways that let you keep doing it for years to come.

Even beyond "have people been injured in this gym?" is your report of their incredibly bad attitude toward, and lack of respect for, your request for them to go lighter. They either do not care to, do not respect your desire to, or cannot train at an appropriate, safe level for you. (And based on the injuries others are incurring, for others as well.)

Whether it's a lack of concern, a lack of respect, or a lack of capability does not much matter. They are all tremendously bad signs. If run-of-the-mill prudence is not sufficient to get you running from this place, consider: Hard strikes to the back of the neck and head are illegal in all combat sports (see e.g. rule 15.A.xi of the "Unified Rules" of MMA) specifically because they are potentially crippling or fatal. Walk away while you still can.

  • 7
    +1 for lack of respect for your request to go lighter - without mutual respect this will never work, you will never reach your potential there or be happy
    – Falco
    Commented Nov 11, 2014 at 10:20
  • Ironically, if you look up some Thai natives sparring in a gym on youtube you'll see them sparring completely pad free and with great control, camraderie (and humour), and safety. They probably know a bit about effective sustainable training. Commented Jul 19, 2018 at 13:31

You're answering your own question here.

In sparring they can't go light and hit with momentum and throw dangerous moves.

I have seen another guy get an elbow to on the back of his neck and haven't seen him in weeks

I got a very strong hook that gave me a huge black eye (after asking for them to go lighter).

Last week during a seminar in knee drills a guy thought he had his rib broken.

None of that sounds good. Training that produces unnecessary injury isn't cool. (Injuries do happen in any contact sport, despite our best efforts.) Maybe you're overstating the case–it's impossible for us to know over the internet–but this doesn't sound ideal. It doesn't sound like I'd train at this gym unless I was confident that trainees were reliably getting very good.

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    Noooo! Don't select an answer yet! :D Regardless of what you do, let's wait a few days for some other input here. Commented Nov 10, 2014 at 14:09

Drills are meant to teach your muscles to perform a technique properly. I would pad the hell out of the recipient before I let another student hit him/her full-force. It's not about inflicting damage, it's about learning how to do something properly and with force. That's how I do it anyway. There's no sense in punching the hell out of each other each time. Not even professional boxers treat their sparring partners like this in the gym.

Sparring should be very similar to what competition or real life situations are like, but as you quite rightly suggest, some fail safes, aka restraint, should be applied. Doubly so if there is a new student who may not be as good, or at least not familiar with the level of intensity.

Martial arts IS about learning how to fight and win, but it is a journey, not a Darwinian survival-of-the-fittest Cobra-Kai (Karate Kid reference FTW) kind of arrangement where your only choices are to become a jackass or pay for the privilege to get beaten up by a jackass twice a week.

Is there any sort of spirit of cameraderie, or is the school full of big egos?

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    I am not sure about their egos, but the cameraderie is quite rare amongst them.
    – Vass
    Commented Nov 10, 2014 at 16:58

You should get out.

While it's true that any training there is a spectrum of how hard you may want to go - from the no-contact doing only forms kind of training up to folks like the Dog Brothers using full force stick fighting... the fact is that there's a point after which you are taking injuries and gaining nothing.

And if the school is going harder than what you want to do - leave. (If the school is going lighter than what you want, I'd also say leave, but in that case the issue is less pressing.)

In general - bruises heal relatively easily. Broken bones, ligament damage, joint damage, and concussions are major injuries and should be exceedingly rare in training.

A part of what is telling you the attitude about this school is how people are responding to these injuries - "Oh man, did you see John got that elbow in the back of the head? Has anyone checked on him? Let's figure out how to train so that doesn't happen again."

It's like workplace accidents - either you recognize this is not how things should be and it's a big deal and you change how things work to stop it from happening again, OR you accept that as normal... and guess what happens? Another accident, eventually.

It's also worth noting that if the injury rate at a school exceeds the rates professional fighters are injured... that says something about the training there. And it's not a good thing. Professionals know that you need to stay intact and fit to do the work you're going to do - getting injured in training (or at all) is the opposite of useful.

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