Should You Train Both Muay Thai & BJJ?

October 16, 2020

So you want to start learning a martial art. You’ve decided you like the idea of covering your bases learning how to strike and how to grapple. So you’ve settled on Muay Thai because of the vast striking options and BJJ because of its effectiveness on the ground.

As a beginner, learning both Muay Thai and BJJ at the same time may slow your progress. Learning one, competing, and then adding the other is likely a better option.

You’ve made a great decision wanting to learn both martial arts. So what are some advantages to learning both Muay Thai and BJJ and should you learn both at the same time?

If You Want To Compete In MMA One Day

Choosing a striking and a grappling martial art is a great way to cover most of your bases. Perhaps one day you may want to transition or compete in MMA. Having a solid background in both stand-up and the ground game will make sure that nothing seems foreign to you.

You will need to alter a few things such as fight stance and learn some new skills such as the grappling game up against the cage and wrestling, but with a vast experience in Muay Thai and BJJ you’ll feel more comfortable in most situations.

Jumping straight into MMA as a beginner can make learning the sport difficult. Instead of learning Muay Thai and BJJ together which can also be tough, you’re now learning MMA striking, MMA grappling, and grappling against the cage.

A pure striking and/or grappling background gives you the foundation to transfer those skills over to MMA.

Develop Striking and Grappling To Be A Well Rounded Fighter

To be a well-rounded fighter, you need to know more than just how to throw punches or shoot takedowns.

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A well-rounded fighter is competent in all domains of fighting (if you’re into lethwei, maybe even headbutts!). Whether that’s being on the ground fighting off your back, or being at range during stand-up. You should have the confidence in your ability to handle a fight at any range.

Are You Looking To Do A Martial Art For Fitness?

If you want to do a martial art to reach fitness or weight loss goals, I would choose BJJ. Why? Because in BJJ you can roll and spar at 100% without a large risk of injury and do it more often.

You can your heart rate high, have some fun, and sweat like you’ve just jumped into a pool. You also don’t have the potential damage to your brain from striking.

While Muay Thai will also be a great workout, you can’t spar hard without a higher risk of injury. However, if you enjoy shadow boxing and the heavy bag, you can train very hard by yourself using these techniques and equipment.

Muay Thai can be much harder on the lower body than BJJ which may influence your decision for which martial art to start.

Self-Defense In Any Situation

Watch any street fight video on YouTube and you’ll see the majority of them start standing and end up on the ground.

Knowing both Muay Thai and BJJ is in your best interest if you are training purely for self defense.

Muay Thai can help keep your range against an unruly citizen. The use of teeps and other various kicks can keep you out of striking range of another person.

However, if things do get close, you have the confidence and ability to handle the situation going forward with various takedowns, position control, and submissions.

Not to mention elbows may even come in handy on the ground.

BJJ will also teach you how to escape from bad situations such as having another person on top of you or being grabbed from behind. Further, if you need to subdue someone without causing any harm, BJJ will teach you how to control another person without harm.

A basic choke can end any confrontation without anyone getting hurt.

Muay Thai will condition you to take strikes to the body and head. As they say, everybody has a game plan until they get punched in the face.

Knowing what it feels like and how you react will help you keep your composure in any unwanted situation.

Should You Learn Muay Thai & BJJ At The Same Time?

This all depends on how much time you have available to train. If you can train full time, and you want to learn both arts, then you can definitely train both at the same time.

If you have plans to compete in either martial art, you may need to prioritise one for a certain period of time. For example, if you want to compete in Muay Thai, you may only train BJJ twice a week to keep your techniques fresh in your mind.

However in my opinion, if you are a beginner to both martial arts, you should pick one to start. Just train that martial art until you are ready to compete.

Once you’ve competed once or twice in that martial art, look to add the other one. This will allow you to do the extra training needed outside of the sport such as strength training or extra off-mat conditioning.

While you can do both Muay Thai and BJJ at the same time when starting, it doesn’t allow the extra time for extra training which can help safeguard you against injury.

It also doesn’t allow you to train more sessions of just one martial art which will help you get better faster.

You should also take into account longevity of the sport. In Muay Thai, you may only be sparring up until a certain point in your life due to the damage or not wanting to be punched in the face. Or just the general wear and tear on the body.

BJJ can be done for life as you can adjust your game to how your body reacts. There’s also no impact so if you tap early, the wear and tear on your body greatly diminish.

About the author 

James de Lacey

I am a professional strength & conditioning coach that works with professional and international level teams and athletes. I am a published scientific researcher and have completed my Masters in Sport & Exercise Science. I've combined my knowledge of research and experience to bring you the most practical bites to be applied to your combat training.


bjj, muay thai

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