Muay Thai Rank, Armbands, & Belts
Written by Kru Chris
Muay Thai rank – there is no such thing. Muay Thai rank is a Western concept. If you want a belt, get in the ring and win.
Here’s a secret – if you are good, a belt, armband, or title is not needed to let people around you know your Muay Thai is legit. I’ve been teaching since 2006, and I’ve always struggled with a ranking system and titles.
Before I moved to Washington, D.C. from the West Coast back in 2002, my trainer was going to have me test for Apprentice Instructorship for the World Thai Boxing Association (WTBA). I was actively competing and was very cocky, so I declined and said I will fly back to California and test for it later.
My stubbornness and ego played into my growth and development in Martial Arts [Related: About Kru Chris]. I didn’t want to test for a higher Muay Thai rank in the East Coast without my trainer being present. If I were to do it again, I would definitely capitalize on the opportunities that were presented to me at the time. With each generation, it should be easier for my students on their path to instructorship. When I taught in my 2-car garage, I had a small group of students and we initially did “testing”. I based it on how tough they were and how many years they been with me. The students did a “gauntlet” where we purposely blow out their lungs with “Freestyle” Thai pads and had them spar with fresh students in a clinch and Thai Boxing rounds.
The old school beat down tested their fighting skill, not necessarily their intellect and knowledge of Muay Thai. Instead of the “gauntlet” style testing, I decided to implement a new style of testing for the current generation of T.A.G. Muay Thai students. This would act as a check and balances for the students and myself, give a structured path for students on their journey to become an instructor for the World Thai Boxing Association and will also help with retention because it sets goals that can be achieved through hard work. Check out the “Muay Thai Gauntlet” in a video below.
Our first “official” testing went better than I could have imagined. I had my very second student, another WTBA certified instructor from One Spirit Martial Arts and two 2nd generation garage students help conduct testing. Test Material that students were evaluated on were their stance and footwork, basic Muay Thai techniques, combinations, drills, sparring and Thai Pads. I’m able to identify flaws in their technique and pinpoint key areas in their game a lot faster because of testing. It also keeps my mind sharp as an instructor to make sure we have no holes in our program and forces us to evolve so the next generation is better than its predecessor.
Our first “official” testing was definitely a success. In 2016, I will be refining our testing process to smooth it out and make it more efficient. This will make sure students won’t hit a plateau and puts them on the right track to becoming a great, technical instructor!
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