Master K used to teach down in Virginia and so he has a somewhat expansive collection of students up and down the East Coast. He has taught at most gyms in NYC and has certified many current head trainers at gyms around New Jersey and in Virginia. It’s really wonderful to have contact with other folks who have been instructed by Master K and who appreciate and love him as a teacher, mentor and friend. Master K’s fight name was Suriyasak (pride of the sun) and so this collection of students and their next generation of students is “Team Suriyasak”.
Brooks Miller is great. He’s trained with some amazing people in Muay Thai and has succeeded in the ring with style and finesse, and he also honors Master K and all his trainers by passing on the detailed (and beautiful) techniques he’s acquired through his study. And he’s very generous. Brooks offers me encouragement and constructive critique with an even hand and I always take his advice to heart with respect to his knowledge, experience, intent and tone.
After my last fight there were a lot of comments from westerners (both at the fight itself and afterward from YouTube and Facebook) that it wasn’t clear why I’d lost the fight. Scoring in Thailand is different from the West and I’m not very clear on it myself, but I did know that my opponent’s straight knees scored very highly, whereas the strikes I did manage to land and my aggression were not viewed by Thai judges the way they might be in America.
Brooks offered to break down the fight for me, to help illuminate Thai scoring. He is certified by the AMTJRA and has familiarized himself with the course material proved by Tony Myers (trained and officiated at Lumphinee Stadium – one of the two top stadiums in Thailand) for a training course for Muay Thai officials. He wrote the Muay Thai Officials’ training course for the Global Combat Alliance (GCA). (An MMA governing body in DC and VA.) And he has a great deal of experience. So while he is first to admit that he is not an expert, he has a respectable degree of knowledge and experience that makes him a good source for understanding Thai scoring.
Lastly, this is meant to be a resource for a basic understanding of scoring for Muay Thai. Scoring in any sport that involves judges is necessarily subjective and a fight looks different from inside the ring, to ringside, to the back of the audience to watching on TV. I always encourage discussion and if you want to add anything, disagree with an assessment or have any questions, please take a respectful approach.
Here’s the breakdown of the fight he gave me (image is from the Pacquiao/Margarito fight, not mine):
Before I break down the fight for you, I want to explain a couple of things about Thai scoring.
The first thing you need to understand is what scores and what doesn’t. In a nutshell, Roundhouse Kicks & Knees to the torso and head are scoring techniques. Punches, Pushkicks, Roundhouse Kicks to the Legs, and Elbows typically do not score.
The way those techniques score is that they MUST have a visible effect, for instance:
A punch typically only scores if you STAGGER your opponent, or they VISIBLY show pain.
Push Kicks typically only score if you knock your opponent off balance.
Roundhouse Kicks to the Legs only score if you buckle your opponents legs, cause them to limp or favor a leg, or if you sweep their feet out.
Elbows typically only score when they cut.
As a note, when it comes to a technique scoring, the power/effectiveness of the strike is factored in as well. For example, any strike that puts your opponent down on the canvas scores highly, no matter what it was.
As I’m sure you also know, there are other factors taken into consideration when you fight. As an example, the appearance of being the stronger fighter is a major factor in your score, which is why Master K always emphasizes that you must never show you are hurt or tired. Keep a poker face at all time!
So to determine the winner of each round, the judges look at 6 criteria:
1. Who landed the most SCORING strikes?
2. Who landed the most EFFECTIVE strikes?
3. Who caused the most DAMAGE?
4. Who CONTROLLED the pace?
5. Who had better DEFENSE?
6. Who FOULED the least?
The judges look at those 6 criteria in the listed order of importance. Usually, a winner can be determined by simply analyzing the 1st two criteria.
Now, lets examine your fight:
10-10. Thai fights are typically scored 10-10 for the first 2 rounds, but judges make a note indicating who SHOULD have won the round in the event that the fight is really close when they tally the final score. Blue, therefore, got the edge on you because she successfully defended and immediately countered with scoring roundhouse kicks. She was also more active in the clinch, though its arguable whether she was more effective.
10-10. Again, Blue gets the indicator that she would have won this round. In the clinch, she was landing straight knees, which are considered more effective and powerful than the side knees which you used predominantly.
9-10, Blue. She continued to make effective use of straight knees in the clinch as opposed to your side knees. Her constant backpedaling was forcing you to miss, while she countered successfully, often with her Push Kick. While Push Kicks don’t TYPICALLY score, in absense of other scoring techniques being landed, they counted.
10-9, Red. That sweep you scored in the round was huge! Sweeping someone off their feet in Muay Thai is the highest scoring technique apart from dropping them for the referees count. While she was backpedaling effectively and making you miss, she was unable to fire effective counters, and her clinch was ineffective. You threw a sweet elbow, but I doubt the judges considered it in the score.
9-10, Blue. Unfortunately, Blue did JUST ENOUGH this round to prevent you from taking the fight. She continued her tactic of backpedaling to make you miss, then taking quick scoring potshots at you. This was a very close round, though.
So there you have it. Blue wins by a score of 49-48.
A couple of additional notes… A seriously big consideration in Muay Thai scoring is the ability to respond to an attack immediately. This is one of the things your opponent was doing really well throughout the fight that you struggled with. You would throw a kick that she either avoided or blocked, but she would IMMEDIATELY counter-kick to your body.
Its hard as fuck to fight someone who constantly runs from you, and you did an awesome job cutting off the ring, unfortunately it just didn’t work out where you could corner her for long enough to land scoring techniques of your own. When you look at the 6 criteria of scoring, its possible that the judges considered her to be the one in CONTROL even though you were the one who was the AGGRESSOR.
The 5th round was very close in my mind, but even so I’m not confident that had you won that round you would have won the fight due to how close the round was. Because your opponent had dominated early, its likely that the judges annotations that BLUE should have won rounds 1 & 2 may have still swayed the fight in her favor.
HOWEVER, also bear in mind that the Thai judges look at Muay Thai fights as though they are a marathon. Its not how you start the fight, but how you finish. Had you won round 5, its also likely that you would have won the fight.
Finally, take what I say with a grain of salt. Yes, I have been trained in authentic Thai scoring practices, but I’m not an EXPERT. I find that when I watch Thai fights and try to score them, my scores align with the judges in MOST cases, but definitely not ALL.
I hope you get the opportunity to watch fights with your trainers and ask questions about who is winning the fight and why. (Hopefully there isn’t a language barrier).
Let me know what you think and if you have any questions!
You can find Brooks’ YouTube channel and gym Facebook here: