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Things To Know About Muay Thai Scoring and Judging

September 29, 2015

Some things you need to know about scoring and judging in Muay Thai.

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If you compete in muay thai or even just watch it, you are going to come across some judges decisions and scores you do not agree with. You will see fights where you say “there is no way that guy won!” or you may even be that person in the ring NOT getting your hand raised with a look of disbelief on your face. The fact is judging is a very tricky business and to try to write an article on “how muay thai is scored” i feel is too vague. Many factors come into play when it comes to scoring and judging muay thai fights. Now there will be things that one person says or another but really everything is up in the air based on the venue. I feel knowing your “promotion” works more to your advantage than just knowing how you or your coach thinks it should be scored.
Scoring in Thailand… in Muay Thai, not on the Soi Cowboy.

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In general, there are pretty much 2 schools of judging. There is the “Thai” and the “western” set of scoring. for the most part in Thailand, punching is not really scored at all. Even if you are landing punch after punch but your opponent throws kicks and knees… you are going to lose. In Thailand, one good round can win you the fight no matter what had happened in the previous rounds. This often times leads to guys taking the 5th round off and just dancing around for the duration of the round. No sense in getting knocked out or banged up even more when the fight has already been decided i guess. Much more emphasis is put on the clinch and knee game in Thailand. Aside from the part of “favoritism.” not knowing how scoring goes down in Thailand is why many westerners do not get the “nod” at the end of the fight.

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Scoring in the United States.

For the most part, much more emphasis is placed on punching and western boxing style scoring. A 10 point system just like in boxing is in place so while one really good round can help your chances, it does not guarantee victory as it does in Thailand. Also a reverse of theroy occurs where you can dominate someone using mostly punching while the other person tried kicking more and you will be pretty much locking up a victory. Clinching is a low priority where it is a huge part of the scoring in Thailand. In North America, the clinch still happens but it is quickly broken up (about 2-3 seconds) and usually the competitors are not as active in the clinch as their Thai counterparts. At the end of the day it comes down to the 10 point system and the final score you receive.

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Everything in between.

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Now in true internet fashion, I am sure someone will come along and say “no thats not how it works! thats not how any of this works!” and they may be right on some points. Again I used real broad strokes to paint the scoring pictures above. The next part is pretty important no matter which side of the scoring pendulum you end up on. The promotion you are fighting on can affect the scoring as well. No matter where you fight, some promotions will have their favorites. Favorites could be techniques, styles or even fighters in particular. Does the promotion bring in judges from out of town or are they wearing the same T-shirt as your opponent’s gym? You think your going to get a win in this place? Say you are fighting up north in Issan against “Black Eagle.” Black Eagle comes from Korat, the judges are from Korat, and you are fighting in Korat… you better knock him out! There is no way you will ever get the win there on a “score card.” The same can be said if you are fighting in Liverpool, NY against a guy from Liverpool with 3 judges from Liverpool. It may not be as blatant as Thailand but you really need to dominate the guy to get the win.
Know your environment

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At the end of the day we all want to win. Prep yourself and learn about where your are fighting. In the youtube world we live in, look at other fights in the same promotion and see how it is scored, then fight accordingly. Examine close fights and see why the judges thought the way they did. Does this scoring play in line with your style and if it does not what can you change or work on for this fight? Know that if you are fighting in a “hostile” or “partisan” environment that you need to not “pace” yourself but rather you must go on the offensive and attack. If you are from Los Angeles and fighting in Philly with a Philly opponent then you best put a good show or expect the home town hero to get the nod. Let the fans be your judge in that matter. In Thailand it is not unusual for people to throw fruit, beer cans, and trash at the ring when they think the judges made a real bad call. Remember a loss is not really a loss unless you feel defeated. A judges decision is just an opinion. Yes, it can affect your standing as a professional but you must not let it beat your spirit. Fight your hardest, fight with spirit and not to sound cliché but “never leave it to the judges.”

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