If you compete or even just watch the fights in Muay Thai, you’re bound to come across judge decisions and scores that you don’t agree with. You may have even found yourself in a fight where you can’t believe that the other guy won.
How Judging Works
Judging is a very tricky business, and it’s near impossible to write an exact explanation as to how judges score a Muay Thai competition fight.
In general, though, there are two ways of judging a fight. There’s the “Thai” set and there’s the “Western” set of scoring.
In Thailand, judges don’t usually score punching. Even if you do land punch after punch, and your opponent only manages to throw in a few kicks and knees, chances are, you’re going to lose. Also, in Thailand, one good round is enough to win you the fight, which is why most fights either end early or end up with both fighters just dancing around each other for the duration of the fifth round. There’s also much more emphasis on the clinch and knee in Thailand.
In the West, there’s much more emphasis placed on punching. They also follow a western boxing style scoring, complete with a 10-point system. This makes western judging completely different from that in Thailand. While one good round can win you the whole fight in Thailand, a good round can only help your chances in the west, not guarantee you a victory. Also, clinching is given less priority, and you can actually win by ‘out-punching’ someone in western Muay Thai fighters.
As you can see, fights are scored differently in Thailand and in Western Countries. This is probably why westerners watching fights in Thailand are often shocked at the decision, and vice versa.
Where Personal Bias Kicks In
As is with any judging system that’s done by individuals, bias is and will always be involved. Regardless of where you fight, associations or promotions will always have their favourites. For example, depending on the place of the Muay Thai competition, it could be the technique, the style or even the fighters themselves.
Case in point, if the judges and your opponent hail from the same area or live in the area where the fight is being held at, your chances of winning via the scorecard is slim. The best way to win such a fight where you’re the outsider is to flat-out dominate your opponent and if possible, knock him or her out.
The Key To Winning
On top of training well, to win fights, it’s important that you, as a fighter, do your research. If possible, try to examine your opponent’s close fights and see why he won that. Are they from the same area? Or was your opponent the local favorite then? Remember, if you’re the outsider or the challenger, it’s best that you go on the offensive as the judges are likely to favor the local favorite or the champion.
Most important of all, though, the key to winning is to give your all and accept whatever comes. If you lose, that’s fine. The only way a loss really feels like a loss is if you let it beat your spirit. If you don’t, then you’ll still end up walking away the winner, as you have just gained even more fight experience from yet another fight.