If you watched The Biggest Loser last season, you may have noticed that the emphasis in the gym was on martial arts. With trainer Cara Castronova‘s background as a 2 time Golden Gloves boxing champion and trainer Brett Hoebel‘s emphasis on Capoeira, as well as many past BL contestants who ha vediscovered a love of Muay Thai boxing, the exercise workouts were definitely not typical. What was the reason that these two completely different forms of martial arts were chosen?
At first glance, these two forms of martial arts have almost nothing in common. Muay Thai is an ancient form of combat fighting that utilizes all of the limbs, plus elbows and knees, in striking. Commonly called The Art of Eight Limbs, this stand up form of martial arts combines elements of boxing as well as stand up clinch techniques, as opposed to boxing which uses two (hands) and other forms of martial arts which utilize four (hands and feet).
Most competitive forms of marital arts place an emphasis on conditioning, and Muay Thai is no exception. Designed to help increase endurance for ring competition, most Muay Thai classes incorporate shadowboxing, jumping rope, running and often weight training. A cornerstone of Muay Thai training is working pad rounds, in which a student works one on one with a coach in hitting specially designed pads, called focus mitts. The focus mitts are created to absorb impact and help a fighter learn to hit correctly without harming their training partner.
Capoeira was originally a dance form incorporating martial arts elements, originating in Brazil as a disguised form of martial arts among the slaves. The basic movement, called the ginga, mimics the movement of the wind blowing through the wheat, and is at its most basic a moving squat. This keeps him constantly moving and creates a difficult target. Attacks are most often strong take downs and mostly executed with the legs, and defensive moves are most commonly evasive.
It’s not required that you be in shape to begin either Muay Thai or Capoeira. You can start either from a very basic level of fitness, but it is always easier to perform martial arts skills when you begin in good shape. Muay Thai classes will definitely get the sweat running, especially as you begin the cardio warm up. Capoeria can also get a sweat going, but most often the class is devoted to mastering skills such as leg sweeps and cartwheels, which can be difficult but not necessarily enough to get the heart pumping. Muay Thai can be used defensively in an attack situation, while Capoeira is more of a performing art. I’ve taken both classes and found Capoeira to be a beautiful art that was incredibly difficult for me to master, as I’m not quite as flexible as I used to be – and I was never able to master standing on my head. Muay Thai is a tremendous workout for me that has helped me feel more confident as a woman out in public.
Interested in trying one of these two fantastic forms of martial arts? Look for a marital arts gym near you. You can locate a Capoeira school by checking either Capoeira.com, Capoeirista.com or CapoeiraScience.com. Muay Thai is most often taught at a Mixed Marital Arts school, and you can typically find a school near you by looking at FindMMAgym.com.