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Many Muay Thai matches, like boxing matches, often end up being decided by the judges who utilize the 10-point must system to score the fighters’ performances. But what is the 10-point must system, and how does it apply to Muay Thai?

The 10-point must system is a scoring method used in several combat sports, including Muay Thai. The victor of each round gets 10 points, and the loser gets 9, 8, 7, or 6 points, depending on the level of the winner’s dominance. If the bout goes the full length, officials will sum up all three judges’ scores to determine the winner.

This article provides a detailed explanation of how the 10-point must system works in Muay Thai, including point deductions and possible outcomes.

What is the “Muay Thai 10-Point Must System”?

Muay Thai, also known as “The Art of Eight Limbs,” has been practiced in Thailand for centuries. The 10-point must system, however, was introduced to the sport much later, borrowing from the world of boxing. The system was introduced to provide a standardized scoring method, ensuring a fair and consistent evaluation of each round.

The 10-point must system is a point-scoring concept used in Muay Thai. Judges use this scoring system to decide the winner of a match if neither of the fighters wins by knockout or technical knockout. After each round, they award the winner 10 points, while the loser gets 9, 8, 7, or 6 points. At the end of the fight, officials tally up the scorecards from all three judges and declare the winner.

How do Muay Thai judges score a fight?

In a Muay Thai match, three judges sit on different sides of the ring, using strict criteria to assess the action in the ring. They use the 10-point must system to score the match round by round, without interacting with one another or influencing each other’s decisions. The scores given by the judges depend on how the round plays out:

  • 10–9: Most rounds are scored this way. This score indicates that the round was close, but one fighter had a slight advantage.
  • 10–8: This score is given when one fighter significantly dominates the round or if the losing fighter gets knocked down.
  • 10–7: Judges typically award this score when a fighter scores two knockdowns in a single round.
  • 10–6: This score is rare and is given when a fighter suffers three knockdowns in a single round.
  • 10–10: This score is given when the round is even and there is no discernable advantage between the fighters.

Criteria for Muay Thai Scoring

When evaluating a Muay Thai fight, judges look for several key factors:

  • Effective aggression: A fighter must not only be aggressive but also land clean and hard shots to be effective.
  • Defense: Skillful defense can help a fighter win a round. This can include blocking strikes, angling out, and creating openings for counterattacks.
  • Ring Control: Fighters who control the center of the ring often dictate the pace of the fight.
  • Power and damage: Judges look for fighters who land cleaner, more damaging shots, despite the high volume of strikes thrown in Muay Thai.

Differentiating Points

It’s important to note that not all points are scored equally. The system allows for differences in the quality and effectiveness of strikes. For instance, a strong, clean punch that visibly shakes the opponent is likely to score higher than a quick jab that merely makes contact. Similarly, a clean kick or knee to the body that visibly impacts the opponent will score higher than a weaker strike that doesn’t visibly affect the opponent.

In addition to striking, judges also consider defensive techniques, ring control, and the effective use of the traditional Muay Thai techniques, such as the clinch and sweeps, when scoring the match. A well-executed sweep that sends an opponent to the canvas can score highly, as can a fighter’s skillful control of the clinch to land knees or elbows.

Point Deductions

While the Muay Thai 10-point must system primarily focuses on awarding points based on performance, the system also allows for point deductions for fouls. Examples of fouls include hitting an opponent who is down, striking the back of the head, or using illegal techniques. A fighter who commits a foul may have points deducted from their score for that round.

Possible Outcomes of a Muay Thai Match

Continuing from where we left off, here are some more possible outcomes of a Muay Thai match:

  • Split decision: This outcome occurs when two judges score the match for one fighter, while the third judge scores it for the other fighter. This is often the result of close matches where different judges place different emphases on scoring criteria.
  • Majority decision: This is when two judges score the match for one fighter, and the third judge scores it as a draw. The fighter with the majority of the judges’ favor wins the match.
  • Draw: A match is declared a draw if all three judges score it as such, or if two judges score it as a draw and the third judge scores it for either fighter.
  • Technical Draw: This occurs when a match has to be stopped because of an accidental foul or injury that doesn’t allow for the match to continue, and enough rounds haven’t been completed to go to the scorecards.
  • Disqualification: A fighter can be disqualified for repeatedly fouling or ignoring the referee’s instructions. In this case, the offending fighter automatically loses, and the other fighter is declared the winner.

In conclusion, the Muay Thai 10-point must system is a comprehensive method of scoring that requires judges to consider a wide range of factors, from the effectiveness of strikes to defensive skills and ring control. Understanding this system gives fans and practitioners alike a deeper appreciation for the sport’s intricacies and the strategic depth of a Muay Thai match.

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