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When you want to start a Martial Practice, you have a lot of options that can be covered by the School you choose; For example you can practice to get in shape, maybe you want to be in a competitive environment, start looking if you have the skills to be a professional fighter, or maybe you just want to fight as a hobby.
The other reason you could want to train a Martial Art is to learn how to defend yourself, wellbeing from a Bully, to be safe in case of emergency or you feel this will help you boost your self-confidence.
Muay has all of these alternatives for you, you can make Muay Thai from the sportive approach, Muay Thai from the fitness approach, but if you want to train for self-defense or to be safe in a life-threatening situation, the field is very different from Muay Thai.
Nevertheless, where does resides the difference? In the strikes you use? The techniques? The intention? Yes, but there is one think you have to develop in the daily training and that has to be tied to every different situation you face. The Mindset.
To speak about the Mindset, you have to put yourself in every different situation; let’s begin:

The Ring:
When you are training to fight on a ring, cage, etc. you have many elements to have in count. For example if you go to an open tournament, you will face unknown opponents, but you will be in a controlled environment. You will have a set of regulations you have to respect or you are going to be disqualified. You will have the assistance of your trainer, or your corner; a Referee will be keeping an eye on you in case you need to be protected from a greater damage with a countdown. The floor is made with a soft and regular material, and you will have a limited space safe from any kind of accident where both athletes are going to move. There will be a limited time for the contest.
If you are going into a pre-arranged fight, the surroundings are going to be the same, but with one big difference. You know whom you will be fighting. So your training will be based on a strategy designed to explode all the weaknesses of your opponent, probably you trainer will study previous fights of your opponent and you will train mostly on your memory muscle, repeating the same combinations so you will be following your trainers plan all the fight.
In both cases, your Mindset will be the same, to confront an athlete very much like you into the environment of a sportive competition, so, if your opponent falls, you will take a step back and will follow the referees instructions. You want to win of course, but you don’t want to make a permanent or serious damage, because at the end we are all friends, nourishing a sport that we all want to see grow. Nobody likes to see tragedies during sport. So as it evolves, the regulations are more restrictive, to be able the people to enjoy the show.

Training for fun:
Ok, you want to train just for fun or to get in shape. Maybe you will make sparring with the gym’s fighters; you will feel some pain, you will feel exhausted and you will make sacrifices. However, you don’t have to cut weight, you will rarely have an injure, and sparring will be very measured for you. Your goal is to have some fun, so your mind will never be under the stress a fighter has (the anxiety before the fight, the frustration and inner struggle during the fight, or the pain after the same). Surely, you will push yourself a lot, but in the end you know what you are learning is not intended to be used in an emergency.

The street:
When I bring the term Street I am referring to any place you cannot control; there are two main situations you can be involved.
a. “Casual” confrontation
The first one is when you are confronted by somebody under stress for no particular reason (a drunk, an addict on the street, an upset person, etc.). Resuming, this person is just looking for a fight but does not want to attempt against your life. You will not have a referee protecting you or looking if you break the rules, there is no protection counts, not a controlled space, the floor could be not so nice. You will face a guy who has not sense of timing, you don’t know how you will react in front of a surprising attack, maybe you will have to defend yourself against a blunt weapon (a rock grabbed from the floor or so).

If the fight goes to the floor, stairs, a very small space, it will not stop. Maybe there will be more than one opponent.

In this case, your mind has to be in a different state, you will have to be more alert of your surroundings, and you cannot afford the “luxury” of exchange strikes with your opponent, because maybe he will not be in the same weight class as you, as it happens in the sportive contests. Imagine you have to face a guy 30 kilos heavier than you. The fight will only stops when the other guy is out of combat or he desist on keep fighting; so you have to be very effective and conclude the fight fast enough to prevent the problem from scaling to a level you will be at big trouble. However, you do not want to make a permanent damage, because you could regret this fight after a while.

b. Life threatening situation
The second situation I talk about is when somebody wants to hurt you for real, Being this, a robbery, kidnapping, rape attempt, assassination attempt, etc. In this case, the attacker will want to be first striking, and the intention is no other than make you a permanent damage. This kind of situations do happen in real life, and more often than anybody wants to admit. Maybe the situation could come from the previous we mentioned, where some person get angrier because of the result of a “casual” fight and wants to scale the fight beyond your expectations. What happens then? Which could be you state of mind in this situation, and how are you going to react? Maybe the reaction will be more chemical than visceral, and you will make things you are not aware.
These kind of situations creates many different environments and are impossible to predict; time pasts really quick and if you are not properly prepared, you could manage the situation in the wrong way.
Your Mindset has to be very different from sport and urban fight, because the struggle leads you to make a very hard decision, it is you or they. In this case, you have to play dirty, use every strike in the most effective possible way so you can disable the enemy real quick. There is no time to think in the wellness of the enemy or how you should deal with the situation.
For this kind of environment, you have to train specifically a survival military type training system created for the hardcore fighting; there are no rules, no mercy and no stops. You have to be in the winning side or probably you will not be anywhere else.

IMBA Muay Lert Rit is a system created to be simple, fast, effective and rough. It is based in a very simple plan that seeks a way to boost the energy that feeds every strike in order to make it the strongest possible. It has a very detailed explanation on how the real combat works, with a working plan from a very ancient knowledge and a solid system of 31 different techniques changing according to the circumstance.
If you want to learn that kind of system you need a qualified Instructor that can lead you step by step through the different stages of the training in order to develop an adequate set of skills, and a state of mind created to respond to any situation under stress, with the muscle memory build to counter and, even to attack first if the moment requires.
If you think IMBA Muay Lert Rit is a defense system, you are wrong; this is a system based a hundred percent on attack and not in the defense; this is because when your life is at risk you have to become the aggressor instead of the one who is defending. This way you can make yourself bigger than your enemy and overwhelm him with a short attack.
To conclude, if you want to learn an art that will teach you how to survive an attack in the street, the sport side of the art is not the way you want to go. You should look for a qualified instructor in a discipline 100% combat oriented; trust me, it will be fun too, you will get in shape, and you will feel very passionate about it.