I haven't posted in a long long time, but wanted to add to this. New babys make it hard to have web time on top of life.
A good fighter is not always a good teacher. Teaching requires the ability to break down a manuver, and to pick out the imperfections when a student performs. So when you choose a gym take some time to watch a class and how the coach(es) teach as well as taking an intro class.
Most of the rest of this thread is dead on. I disagree with the names of the moves, and that they should know the Ram Muay. It is a cultrual thing, and not all westerners take the time to learn it. I have been doing and teaching MT for 13 years, and I STILL don't know how to do it right.
As for full power on the pads: Technique is FAR more important than power when you are learning. With the body mechanics power will come when you have it right.
Equipment is important. You can't learn MT properly w/o thai pads. For children other types of pads can be mixed in, but adults need thai pads. Also be sure you gym has at least some peopel you size to work out with (this makes for a good reason to get friends to go with you.)