Do Muay Thai Fighters Kick Trees in Their Training? The Ultimate Guide to This Controversial Practice (2023)

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Ever wonder, “Do Muay Thai fighters kick trees?” Well, you’re not alone! This intriguing question has piqued the curiosity of martial arts enthusiasts and aspiring fighters alike.

The answer is: No, Muay Thai fighters don’t typically kick trees as part of their regular training. This misconception likely stems from viral videos and exaggerated tales rather than actual training practices.

So, where does this pervasive myth originate, and what are the true training methods of Muay Thai fighters? Let’s delve into these aspects to give you a more comprehensive understanding.

Discovering the Origins of Muay Thai Training Methods

You ever wondered why Muay Thai fighters are often depicted kicking trees? This curiosity stems from the olden days of Muay Thai training, where rural fighters would employ various unique methods to increase their strength and resilience. Let’s dive in and uncover the truth behind this age-old practice.

1. Nature as Training Tools 

Historically, Muay Thai fighters in rural Thailand didn’t have access to the modern training equipment we see today. Instead, they turned to what was readily available – nature. For their brutal and high-contact sport, trees, banana trunks, and even water buffalo hide were used to condition their bodies, particularly their shins and fists.

2. The Tree-Kicking Myth

So, do Muay Thai fighters kick trees? The answer is – not exactly. They don’t literally kick fully grown, solid trees. The idea of a Muay Thai fighter relentlessly kicking a tree until it falls is more of a cinematic exaggeration than a real-life practice.

Instead, fighters often used banana trees or trunks in their training due to their relatively soft texture, allowing them to kick repeatedly without causing severe damage to their shins.

Note: The notion that Muay Thai fighters kick trees misinterprets traditional training techniques. While banana tree trunks were used for training, they vastly differ from the hardwood trees we might picture.

Muay Thai fighters don't literally kick fully grown, solid trees
Muay Thai fighters don’t literally kick fully grown, solid trees
(image source:

3. Modern Muay Thai Training

Today, Muay Thai training has evolved considerably. Gyms are equipped with heavy bags, makiwara boards, and other modern training tools to help fighters develop their technique and power without the risk of severe injury. The use of proper protective gear is also emphasized to ensure the safety of the fighters.

Nevertheless, the essence of the old ways is still preserved. It’s not uncommon to see Muay Thai fighters in Thailand training outdoors, using trees not as punching or kicking targets but as anchors for heavy bags or resistance bands. The spirit of utilizing nature in training lives on, albeit in a safer and more practical form.

The Benefits and Risks of Traditional Muay Thai Training

Before diving into the distinct practices of Muay Thai fighters, it’s important to understand the overall benefits and risks associated with traditional Muay Thai training. Let’s consider each aspect in detail.

The Benefits:

  • Strength and Endurance: Regularly practicing high-intensity drills, such as kicking and striking, significantly improves muscle strength and stamina. Kicking a tree, a traditional practice primarily seen in rural Thailand, is believed to harden the shins and condition the body for the physical demands of a match.
  • Mental Toughness: The rigorous training and disciplined lifestyle foster mental resilience. It’s not just about physical strength but also mental fortitude. For instance, kicking a tree requires physical power and a high degree of mental toughness.
  • Self-Defense: Muay Thai teaches practical self-defense techniques. The strength and skills of such rigorous training can be life-saving in real-world situations.

The Risks:

  • Injury: As with any high-intensity sport, there’s a risk of injury. In the absence of proper technique or supervision, kicking trees can lead to severe shin or foot injuries.
  • Overtraining: There’s a fine line between rigorous training and overtraining. Without proper rest and recovery, overtraining can lead to physical fatigue and a decline in performance.
  • Mental Burnout: The extreme physical demands of training can lead to mental exhaustion if not managed well. A balance between physical exertion and mental relaxation is crucial.

Remember, it’s not about the hardness of your kick but the strength of your spirit. Stay strong, stay safe, and remember that in Muay Thai, as in life, balance is key.

Proper protective gear is now emphasized for fighter safety
Proper protective gear is now emphasized for fighter safety

Alternative Training Methods for Muay Thai Fighters

So, if most Muay Thai fighters are not kicking trees, what do Muay Thai fighters do to build their strength and improve their technique? Here are some of the most common training methods:

  • Bag Work: Fighters frequently train by kicking heavy bags. This builds strength, improves technique, and helps to condition the shins.
  • Pad Work: A trainer holding pads and the fighter striking them. It’s a fundamental part of Muay Thai training that helps develop accuracy, power, and speed.
  • Shadow Boxing: This is a drill where fighters practice their moves without any opponent or equipment. It aids in perfecting technique and rhythm.
  • Sparring: This is a controlled fight with another trained fighter. It’s an essential part of training that helps fighters prepare for actual fights.

The Importance of Shin Conditioning in Muay Thai 

While kicking trees is not common, shin conditioning is crucial in Muay Thai. So, how do fighters condition their shins without harming themselves? The answer lies in consistent and controlled training.

Fact: Shin conditioning is achieved through long-term training, gradually building resistance and tolerance in the shins. It’s not about causing harm but strengthening and preparing the body for impact.

Muay Thai fighters condition their shins over time through bag work, pad work, and sparring. These methods help build strength, improve technique, and prepare fighters for the rigors of the ring without causing unnecessary injury. 

Above all, it’s essential to remember that every fighter is different, and what works for one person may not work for another. Therefore, listening to your body and training best for you is crucial.

Muay Thai fighters condition their shins through bag work, pad work, and sparring over time
Muay Thai fighters condition their shins through bag work, pad work, and sparring over time

Preparing Your Body and Mind for Muay Thai Training

Let’s get down to the nitty-gritty of preparing your body and mind for the intense world of Muay Thai training.

1. Physical Preparation 

The physical demands of Muay Thai are immense. It’s not just about strength but also endurance, flexibility, and coordination. So, how do you prepare your body for such a demanding sport?

  • Fitness Conditioning: Start with a general fitness regimen to build your stamina and strength. Include workouts like running, cycling, or swimming. Strength training with weights or bodyweight exercises is also crucial.
  • Flexibility Training: Incorporate stretching exercises into your routine to increase flexibility and prevent injuries. Yoga can be an excellent addition to your training program.
  • Technique Practice: Begin practicing basic Muay Thai techniques such as punches, kicks, elbows, and knee strikes. This will help your body get used to the movements and develop muscle memory.

2. Mental Preparation 

Muay Thai isn’t just a physical challenge; it’s a mental one, too. The sport requires focus, determination, and resilience. How do you prepare your mind for this?

  • Meditation: Regular meditation can help improve focus and mental clarity, both essential for Muay Thai.
  • Visualization: Visualize yourself executing techniques perfectly and winning fights. This practice can enhance your self-confidence and performance.
  • Learning Patience: Progress in Muay Thai can be slow and requires patience. Understand that it’s a marathon, not a sprint. Rome wasn’t built in a day, right?


And there you have it! We’ve journeyed through the myth and reality of Muay Thai fighters kicking trees, discovering that while this practice might not be as widespread or dramatic as some stories suggest, it does indeed have its roots in the truth. But as we’ve learned, modern Muay Thai training prioritizes safety and efficiency, using various equipment and techniques to strengthen and condition the body.

  • Myth or Reality: Some Muay Thai fighters did kick trees in the past, but it’s not a common practice today.
  • The Modern Approach: Today’s fighters typically use heavy bags, pads, and conditioning drills for their training.
  • Benefits and Risks: While kicking trees can toughen the shins, it also carries a significant risk of injury. Modern training methods are safer and more effective.

Remember, Muay Thai is a powerful and dynamic martial art, and like any physical discipline, it’s important to approach it with respect and care. Always train with a qualified instructor; remember, the goal is not to damage your body but to strengthen and prepare it for the challenges ahead.

If you’re considering taking up Muay Thai, don’t let the tree-kicking myth intimidate you. The reality is much more nuanced and much less painful! Muay Thai has something to offer whether you’re an experienced martial artist or a beginner. So, why not give it a try? Who knows, you might just fall in love with this ancient and vibrant martial art.

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Michael B. Ryan

Michael is a passionate Muay Thai enthusiast and founder of Fancy Muay Thai. He shares tips and resources to help others improve their skills and provides unbiased product reviews. is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to and affiliated sites. Amazon and the Amazon logo are trademarks of, Inc. or its affiliates.