Most of the time when people find out that I am a practitioner of Muay Thai, they form a karate chop deal with their hands and say hiiii yaaaa! in a strange voice. That is fine with me. 99.99% of the population's exposure to any martial arts are from seeing idiots break boards on tv or seeing kids practice Karate in strip mall gyms. I typically try to explain in brief what Muay Thai is all about and it does sink in to some, but when I sense that someone is just giving me the berries I usually just let it go.
I typically don't bag on other martial arts as so many techniques from them are intertwined. As far as self defense goes I put things like Karate on the bottom of the list. So many of the Karate techniques waste time and space, something you have none of in real life.
Over time, there have been different events in ring sports to try to bring together practioners of different martial arts to see which one is the "best". I hear these arguments all the time and they are stupid. It really isn't about the art, it is about people. I am sure that there are some Karate practitioners who could kick my ass out there, and I am sure that there are plenty who would lose in a ring match with me. As I have said before, all the rank, black belts and sashes in the world don't mean squat if you are a fat slob.
Of course we now have the ultimate martial arts contest, MMA. We are now finding out now the truth - if you think you are such a badass, there is a lot of money to be made in the UFC and other leagues. Lets be real - Sensei Bob from the local McDojo isn't getting into the cage anytime soon. MMA is the ultimate blend of martial arts and you better have it ALL together or the results will be very painful.
All of that said, I still like seeing these different martial arts pitted against each other. Look at this very cool old clip of a Karate guy vs. a Muay Thai guy.
A few things of note. I mentioned "shellcracking" in a comment a week or so ago. This is the perfect example of that technique. The Muay Thai guy just keeps kicking the Karate guy over and over and over, until toward the end of round three and into round four he can't even lift his hands. Those kicks add up. The Karate guy doesn't do too bad until his body tells him he has had enough. And he makes the classic mistake of putting his hands down (and his head) when clinched. Clearly Karate (or at leasst, this particular Karate practioner at this particular time) has no answer for that Muay Thai technique.
I also love the fact that they make the Karate guy keep going out there for more punishment until he gets knocked out - they were much less careful with the fighters back then. Interesting also is that the Muay Thai guy doesn't go for any leg kicks. This would have ended much sooner if he had hammered the Karate guys leg a few times.
It really isn't about the art, it is the person - although these types of events are still fun for me to watch. Especially when the Muay Thai guy wins :).