At T.A.G. Muay Thai, we offer five classes to accommodate a wide variety of student ages and skill levels. The first class shown below is for kids, and the other four are for adults:
In every class, you’ll see students wearing armbands of different colors. Each color represents a specific skill level, and students are continually trying to improve their skills so they can “rank up,” or progress through the ranks/armband colors. [Related: History of Muay Thai]
At T.A.G. Muay Thai, we want students to continually improve their skills, rank up quickly and be proficient in their Muay Thai skill. To make sure that happens, we have developed a structured ranking system that combines mastery of techniques with time spent in class. Putting in the work is just as important as testing well. Our tests reveal how proficient students are with techniques and combos.
We have refined this rank structure over the past 10 years to make sure students rank up at appropriate intervals in their training. Our rank structure isn’t part of the Thai tradition, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t serve a purpose. At the end of the day, whatever gets a gym to produce the best-quality students, fighters and instructors with the least number of injuries along the way and helps develop short- and long-term goals ⎯ that’s what we’re all about.
Having a specific rank structure also demonstrates our coaches’ meticulous attention to quality control. Our teaching methods focus on skill improvement and mastery. We take ownership for poor performance because we are a team, and we develop leaders. When our students progress well, it’s a great reflection of our teaching.
Rank is not determined by which class a student is in, although there are some general guidelines. For example, a high-level armband can and should go to the Phase 1 – Muay Thai Fundamentals class and the Phase 2 – Advanced Application class.
Students must meet certain requirements to be eligible for the Phase 2 – Advanced Application class. The instructor determines those requirements, and they are measurable. For example, the instructor might require a student to score higher than 80 percent on their monthly test consistently for a minimum of three months, in skills such as general pad holding fundamentals. The instructor observes skills on a checklist, such as breathing, holding the pads at the correct height and applying pressure on impact.
At the end of each month, all T.A.G. students participate in a commutative examination consisting of all techniques and combinations taught during the block of instruction of specific techniques, combinations and sparring for the month. Students’ grades will be determined based on mechanical proficiency of singular techniques, application of techniques, combinations, control and discipline.
Grade percentages will be based on the total number of correctly performed techniques and combinations divided by the total number of techniques and combinations (e.g., 19/20 = 95%). During the block of instruction (8–12 hours), we rotate through all the techniques, combinations and sparring. This time doesn’t include training at home or with your fellow peers outside of class
Our ranking-up process is quantifiable, or measurable, so that everyone has consistent guidelines to follow. The higher you score on your test, the less time it will take you to rank up. It’s important to show up, do the work and know the techniques and combos so you can perform them well during testing.
Every 100 classes (give or take), adult students will earn an armband. In our Kids’ Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) program, we add a stripe to the student’s belt after 15 classes he or she attends. Kid belts and stripes are awarded at the end of the month during testing. However, if the overall group tests poorly or the students aren’t focused, the instructor has the right to present belts and stripes the next month during testing.
On test days, students will enter the gym and fill out their own test forms. Once all students are prepared, class will begin with the opening ceremony, which includes announcements, the oath and the Thai greeting. Then students will line up, and testing will begin.
Armbands are awarded at the instructor’s discretion. These are general guidelines and can vary plus or minus 10 to 20 hours:
70–79% = 100 hours to move up in rank
80–89% = 90 hours to move up in rank
90–100% = 80 hours to move up in rank
As you can see, the higher you score on the tests, the fewer hours of class time it will take you to rank up to the next color of armband.
The armband colors our instructors wear also hold significance. They indicate the instructor’s level, which is related to the number of years he or she has been actively teaching.
This chart shows the approximate number of class hours required for a student to earn each color of armband and the number of hours of active teaching an instructor must have to wear each color of armband:
“Excellent teaching. Realistic. Practical. Something we can use it just in the cage, but in our day-to-day life. And that’s the most important aspect. Some may never fight professionally, but the lessons I have learned from Kru Chris are beyond words ⎯ they are so valuable. And I am forever and ever grateful for him and his instruction at T.A.G. Muay Thai. A true professional who was also taught by the best, and that’s why he is hands down the best in the DMV area. And I didn’t even mention his cost. Many dollars below the competition. Hmmm….best instruction at the lowest price. Seems like a no-brainer to me.”
Sparring is extremely important in any martial art because it provides the most authentic training you can get without engaging in a real fight.
Kru Chris, the Head Instructor at T.A.G. Muay Thai, has extensive experience as a certified, sanctioned referee and judge, and he regularly hosts sparring exhibition events for his students. Schools and groups call on him to host these events because they know he and his certified judges, referees and scorekeepers make sure every event runs smoothly and is safe for both new and seasoned fighters.
Sparring enables you to do the following:
“Authentic Muay Thai gym. Straight forward, friendly atmosphere. Great with kids, patient with adults. There is no theatrical component in training, though. You’d better be ready to work hard. Highly recommended for all kids and serious-minded adults.”