The Problem with Glory Kickboxing – A Muay Thai Fighter’s Rant

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The last Glory event was very entertaining.

Disclosure: Yes, I did watch the last Glory event and the fights were very good. This is not a rant against Glory as a promotion. I personally think they are doing a great job of getting MMA fans interested into kickboxing events. Glory is full of talented fighters that put on extremely exciting fights. This is my beef with some of the rules that need to change.

As much as I love watching the Glory kickboxing event, some of the rules need to be changed to be more inclusive of Muay Thai fighters. Every time I watch a Glory event I get extremely frustrated watching fighters being limited to the techniques they can use. By eliminating elbows, clinching, catches, and throws, Glory is taking away exciting techniques that would only make the promotion better.

I know that Artem Levin won the tournament, but I would have loved to see him utilize his elbows and his awesome clinch. 

Whenever I watch a guy stand in front of a fighter and rain 5-6 punch combos on him, all I am thinking in my mind is “STEP FORWARD WITH AN ELBOW” or “GRAB HIS NECK!” I hate watching these punchers have open season and not get punished for leaving themselves exposed.

If Glory is worried about too much blood or early stoppages in fights, I think the UFC has already proven that North American crowds want to see elbows used in fights. Glory is supposed to be the place for all the best stand up marital artists. They take the best of the Karate, Kickboxing, and every other standup art and put them in the ring to fight. By excluding certain techniques from Glory, they are taking away some of the core weapons that make Muay Thai the most effective striking art in the world.

If you want to have the a stand up promotion that can be as big as the UFC, adding elbows and limited clinching will only make the promotion more exciting. Even though Kickboxers don’t use elbows in their training, if you change the rules they will quickly adapt to them.

The Restrictions That Need to Change

1.2.9. Prohibited techniques, moves and conduct

  • Elbow strikes; Striking with any part of the arm or wrist above the padded portion of the glove (The addition of Elbows would be HUGE for Glory)
  • Throws, leg sweeps, foot sweeps or pushing of any kind as an effort to off-balance or down an opponent; any attempt to off-balance or down an opponent with anything other than a legal strike may be considered a foul. (Sweeps and Throws make things more exciting)
  • Grabbing, clinching or holding for any reason other than to immediately attack with a knee strike (or strikes) is a foul; this includes holding to rest, or grabbing an opponent in order to stop them from striking. (Limited Clinching Should Be Allowed so Fighters can land some effective knees and elbows)

Clinching and elbows are two of the most effective weapons to neutralize a heavy puncher. By taking away these two techniques, you are essentially removing half of the weapons from a Muay Thai fighter. Yes, you can still punch and kick in a fight, but the scoring system in Glory rewards punches equally to other techniques.

If you had the privilege to watch the last fight between Toby Smith and John Wayne Parr you will see how effective elbows really are. Just because people are worried about getting scarred on their face, shouldn’t be the reason for a promotion to ban one of the most effective offensive weapons that you can utilize in a fight.

Most of these fighters already use elbows and clinching. Let them use it.

Most of these fighters already fight in Muay Thai. Let them use their elbows and limited clinch.

Limited Clinch Should Be Added

I am not advocated unlimited Muay Thai style clinching in the fights. I know that the GLORY promotion wants to keep the fights as entertaining as possible, and clinching is not as exciting as guys throwing punches and kicks. But honestly, when these guys are forced to tie up around the waist every time they come close, it does not simulate a real life situation.

If you added a 3 second clinch rule it would create a few opportune moments for fighters to land some nice knee strikes, quick elbows and tie up an oncoming opponent who is coming forward with punches. If you don’t want to have fights turn into clinch wars, then just limit the time they are allowed to clinch in the fights.

I am not saying that Muay Thai Guys can’t adapt to Kickboxing rules, many of them have already (Yes, I’m talking about Artem Levin, Aikpracha and Buakaw etc.). What I am am saying is that by limiting the rules, you take away a huge part of a Muay Thai fighters weapons.  Modifying the rules would not only make Glory better, it would make the divisions so much more competitive with an influx of talented stars.

The Bottom Line

The truth is that only Muay Thai fans are going to be complaining about these rules in Glory. The casual fan who watches Glory will appreciate the standup (it is pretty dam entertaining). However, the Muay Thai fans will look at Glory and see so much potential that is wasted by not allowing certain techniques. I think any standup promotion should allow all the weapons of stand up, including elbows, throws and limited clinch.

Essentially I am saying they should make Glory full Muay Thai rules, with the exception of the clinch. I know that the clinch can be boring if guys are wrapped up the entire fight, so a 3 second rule would limit its use. 

Since I don’t ever see Glory adding elbows or limited clinch into the mix, the next biggest thing in North America is Lion Fight. Lion is everything that you could possibly want in an organization because it is a Muay Thai promotion. That being said, I’ll definitely still watch the Glory fight cards because they are entertaining and feature great fighters. Just add bloody elbows at least and I will be happy. Rant Over.

About Author

Stephen is an admitted Muay Thai addict that has been living in Thailand since 2011. He strives to provide a balanced view of Muay Thai from the eyes of a fighter. He enjoys analyzing and breaking down different aspects of Muay Thai to help others improve their own game. For more follow him on Google+ or read about his Muay Thai journey here.

20 Comments

  1. sean@muay-thai-guy.com'

    Dude, I hear ya. It can be frustrating when you see guys clinching just to hold on when there are plenty of opportunities to land a strike or even off balance/sweep their opponent. Although I can understand the philosophy behind Glory, I do wish they added a little more like you suggested. Either way, I’m a huge Glory fan and a huge Muay thai fan and it’s awesome watching both the sports grow so rapidly the past few years.

  2. anthony.lucifora@gmail.com'

    I think making the changes you’ve suggested would make the sport more exciting for people like us that train Muay Thai but may seem to over-complicate the sport. IMO the reason why Glory suggested the rules it has in place is to be as fan friendly as possible so Joe Schmo flipping through the channels can stop on Glory and figure out whats going on. I could be completely wrong.

    The other point about limiting the types of attack is that it frees up people to be more agressive and thus entertaining. What I mean by that is a fighter is able to throw those crazy kicks, or 6 punch combos without having to worry about elbows, or sweeps and throws, which if they were allowed may cause the fighter to be more conservative in their attack.

    I agree with you though, Muay Thai rules for me would be better but I can see why Glory does what they do.

    • Since most fighting styles don’t incorporate elbows, catches, sweeps and clinching, they make the rules so these fighters are not at a disadvantage. Also, I am sure if they changed the rules some Kickboxers would refuse to fight because they aren’t comfortable with elbows being used. I don’t expect them to make any changes anytime soon, unless Lion starts to overtake them.

  3. jenhaochan888@gmail.com'

    Thanks for this blog post. I cant agree more with all your points and considerations on how to make the promotion even more exciting. I would personally like to add elbows and limited clinch, one thing about Muay Thai is unlimited clinch can stall and be less exciting. The current no clinch rule limits knee techniques which is a tool that can used under the rules. Allowing some clinching will help to see more knee techniques.

  4. jayj87@hotmail.com'

    Glory does allow a 5 second clinch
    ” A fighter may clinch in order to immediately attack with a legal knee strike (or strikes). If the knee attack and/or counter attack by the opponent is continuous and productive the referee may allow it to continue for in his estimation up to five seconds; otherwise the fighters should disengage the clinch and continue to fight.”

    I can see your point about elbows but i am going to play the devils advocate. Like you said kickboxers and such will quickly adapt to elbows, why cant Muay Thai fighters learn to block punches and counter more effectively without elbowing or clinching? Buakaw won K-1 multiple times without any clinch at all or elbows, so it can be done. Also I find that when u allow the North American fighters to elbow, they start only elbowing, and forget that they can punch as well which makes for a really ugly fight. Half the time in Thailand when two Thais are fighting each other, they don’t elbow anyway out of respect. I personally also hate when fights get stopped due to cut, its such an anticlimax.

    • In my opinion striking should be inclusive of all the striking weapons. Elbows are such an important aspect of striking because they change the game. The myth that fights are easily stopped because of elbows cuts is wrong. Most fighters are able to continue a fight with a cut, even if the blood is gushing. Look at Kevin Ross’ fight vs Yamato and you can see how much fighters can endure. Anyways, its all a moot point because Glory will remain a Kickboxing organization unless they are being overtaken by Lion Fight, then they would consider making changes.

  5. joey.magboo@gmail.com'

    it’s glory KICKBOXING not glory MUAY THAI. if you want to see elbows, clinch. watch muay thai then. and also. not all fight fans are fan of clinching, some find it boring,

  6. mtdh@gmail.com'
    MUAY THAI die hard on

    them lame hackers will never ever learn enough clinch to be entertaining and proficient at the full on depths of 100% thai clinch .

    the unskilled make it look like they are only hugging and holding on for dear life while skilled clinch fighters are wizards at counter knees and blocks and making throws during clinch engagements.

    time limits ?? say 3 seconds IF THERE IS no , NO, MOVEMENT AT ALL , any clinch fighting action gets unlimited time . now that is how it should be.

  7. m.sphinx@gmail.com'

    It’s funny how you note that Glory has successfully introduced kickboxing to MMA fans. Yet, Glory restricts elbows, clinch and knees, sweeps and throws, all of which are popular techniques in MMA. It’s not like fans don’t understand what’s going on in the clinch, so I don’t see why Glory doesn’t use a more free ruleset.

    • Well, Glory restricts the rule set because it is a kickboxing organization, so it follows those rules. If they allowed elbows and knees, then most of their fighters would probably protest because they would feel at a disadvantage. I also believe that the organization would be dominated by more Thai fighters if elbows and certain clinch aspects were allowed.

      • esuthe@gmx.de'
        Edward Sutherland on

        Just wanted to mention that the K! organisation had- during different times in the beginning differing rules for their events including Muay Thai rules.
        Once a Thai delegation was visiting a K1 event and full Thai rules were in effect. K1 rules are a compromise made for the well being of the fighters and for the economy of Western viewers. Actually Glory could have events with K1 and Thai rules bouts if the contestants were willing and the referees were qualified . On another level Kickboxing is a different sport with a different history and origin(Karate, Western-boxing, Tae Kwon Do) than Muay Thai(Muay Boran, Lao, Khimer- Boxing) which has its roots in South East Asia and China. Maybe you can compare these differing arts to badminton and tennis.
        For my part I hope the decline of Stand Up fighting will end soon, and that the dominance of MMA will be broken

        • I completely agree. The stand up portion of MMA is what most of the fans like watching. I’m hoping K-1/Muay Thai can make a resurgence again. Thanks for the comment.

  8. yungrott@gmail.com'
    Arr Ell Dubbayuu on

    I love MT, and I love reading these articles, but Glory is a KICK BOXING promotion. KickBOXING. BOXING with kicks. It’s meant to be almost literally what Mayweather would do if he learned how to use the teep. They score punches because it is BOXING….with kicks. And this is a sport. There is no intention of simulating real life fights. Glory isn’t a Krav Maga class or a CQB seminar…..or a Muay Thai organization for that matter. It’s KickBOXING. I see it more of bridging the gap for the traditional boxing fans than anything. You guys forget that Artem Levin and many of the other fighters have boxing backgrounds as well.

  9. esuthe@gmx.de'
    Edward Sutherland on

    Hi Stephan,
    I hear your suggestions to make Glory Kickboxing more exciting. For one they could go back to 5 rounds. The idea behind 3 rounds is to make every fight a sprint to prevent “feeling out” rounds as in Muay Thai, which leads fights to be over before they really get going sometimes, hence often the added fourth round in Glory.

    Actually the John Wayne Parr- Toby Smith shows the danger of elbows.
    Parr was elbowed in the eye and had a broken orbitol bone. A person could go blind because of this!! The referee should have disqualified Smith for this, it is a foul like kicking someone in the balls!! Elbows are thrown with abandon, and the cuts are not really worth it- remember after a short sport career you still have to live another 60 years! Clinching longer with knees, is a good idea. Maybe we could write and ask the UFC to create an MMA stand up division which would allow more Muay Thai as well as Sanda and Kung Fu fighters to square off amongst each other without the ground game.

    • Elbows do add more danger, but they are an effective tool to use against heavy handed punches. Since we both agree that K-1 would probably like to boost ratings for their shows, adding elbows would really add another element. In the world to TV ratings the more blood you have, the better for the audiences. Thanks for the comment.

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