I know that muay thai is godly in the ring, but I have also read that depending on where you train it can lack in punching skills. How effective is it in a self defense/random fight situation?
It depends on your point of view, really.
On the one hand, despite the fact that Muay Thai has very few rules, it *is* a ring adaptation of a martial art. There are a lot of things that you cannot do in the ring that you could do in the street.
For instance, Muay Thai lacks ground fighting, submissions, eye gouges, groin & throat strikes, etc. And, as you mentioned, many Muay Thai gyms (DEFINATELY not all!) lack in their punching skills.
However, Muay Thai teaches you to fight in real time. You learn to react, defend, and attack an opponent who is resisting, defending, and attacking you. There is no replacing that kind of training.
Also, if you learn to throw your punches and kicks against a resisting opponent in real time it won't take much more to integrate the so called "banned techniques" to adapt it to the street. If I can jab well against an opponent it is only a minor change of my hand to use an eye or throat strike.
Headbutt to the face.
Knee to the body.
Elbow to the face and body.
LOL...that's damn effective!
Muay Thai is a great standup art. Unless you are fighting a skilled fighted you should be able to take them out with MT. But, if they have experience or are ground fighters be advised. I think if combat traing is your objective I would supplement MT with a ground art like BJJ. And remember, practice like you want to play...
How about versus karate? Which is more effective in an uncontrolled matchup?
For the Karate question, keep in mind one actually has tons of pad work, live sparring rather than tag, and serious physicaL conditioning. And one has ............KATAS.
Of course if your style of Karate is shidokan or Kyokushinkai it is a toss up.
Plus there are guys who have much more practical teaching methods, bt these guys are definitely in the minority in the Karate circles.
"Plus there are guys who have much more practical teaching methods, bt these guys are definitely in the minority in the Karate circles."
I know. And it just kills me to admit it ;-(
I'm one of those (or at least I think I am) minority karate guys.
Much to my surprise, I've found many karate people are happy telling themselves their point sparring training methods, tactics and strategies will keep them from getting hurt.
I know that I can go to one fucking crazy karate place now, the guy is a total bad ass that doesn't deal with that kata shit, he's all about the fighting. "Forget karate, I'll teach ya how to fight" On the other hand I could do Muay Thai at a big, well respected gym. What would you guys recomend?
Muay Thai hands down. I think Muay Thai is the best striking art. Supplement boxing for the hands and you have a good striker.
Muay Thai with a healthy dose of Boxing will turn you into one hell of a striker. I feel like it is a much more practical form then most of the Karate you will find out there.