The popularity of Muay Thai is growing in SA. Its fans say it is "one of the most sought-after martial arts in the modern age". Henry Madini practises and teaches Muay Thai as an art, not a street-fighting skill. He draws on his deep understanding of the difference between the two. He grew up in SA as "a karate boy", as he describes it. Karate is the Japanese word for "empty hand". Its exponents use no weapons other than body parts and power. Karate masters describe it as an "Asian system of unarmed combat using the hands and feet to deliver and block blows". Karate is also widely practised as a sport. Madini went looking for a bigger challenge. He found it in Muay Thai. To him, martial arts are a combination of combat and tactical fighting skills learnt and acquired through training, philosophy and discipline. Martial arts are all about discipline — or should be, Madini says. Muay Thai is a sport and a bloody one at times. Madini says it is also an effective form of self-defence an...

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