How good is Muay Thai for self defense? I have been asked this question many times by people who wanted to start training martial arts. And my answer was always the same: Thai boxing is one of the most effective martial arts when it comes to street fighting. Why? Because the whole philosophy behind Thai boxing is to prepare a fighter for a real competition and the final goal is to make him "ring ready". If you tough enough to fight in the ring then you are more than ready to face some thug on the street.
Muay Thai provides everything you need for an effective self-defence:
Core workouts: strength and stamina training. Muay Thai is very demanding when it comes to physical performance. This will give you a great advantage no matter how good and technical you are. Proper strength and stamina training and even the most basic technical training give you the edge over the most of the guys on the street.
No fancy techniques: Thai boxing kicks are simple yet powerful. It just comes naturally to use a quick body kick or a leg kick to throw the attacker on the ground. It is much easier to use straightforward techniques in a real fight that trying to utilize some complicated attacks (like some Taekwondo kicks for example).
Muaythai puts great pressure on sparring: you will practise with a real opponent right from the start of your training. Same goes to technical classes: you will practice new techniques and combos with a sparring partner, not on your own, most of the time. This is the best way to prepare you to face a trained fighter in a regular bout.
Arsenal of equally effective short range and long range weapons which make it possible to attack and to defend yourself at any distance. You can keep an attacker in away from yourself using push kicks and jabs and control the situation with elbow and knee strikes or clinch and neck wrestling when the fight end up in short distance.
Elbow techniques which allow you to defend your face while simultaneously being able to deliver quick and powerful blows to your opponents face. Furthermore, when you will be protecting your face with elbows from an attacker's punches, your opponent will hurt himself punching you since elbows are tougher than knuckles.
And last but not least important point: training gives you a self-confidence. It provides you with a better physical performance, builds up your body and straightens up your posture. This may disarm the potential attacker before even the fight starts. Most of the guys standing on the street or drinking in the bar and looking for a trouble are, more or less, cowards. They attack only when they are confident that they are going to win the fight.
At the end of the day the more you train, the less you will get involved in street fights. Sounds strange but it is true. But when it happens you will be prepared to defend yourself and knock out your opponent cold.