Muay Thai training – The Basics

Muay Thai Moves, Muay Thai instructionalMuay Thai kickboxing is one of the most popular and fastest growing martial arts in the world today. In fact, it has become so popular that people from every continent, except perhaps Antarctica, are enrolling in gyms to learn Muay Thai. Most mixed martial arts (MMA) fighters who study and use more than one discipline now are including Muay Thai techniques in their training. Why? Because of its real fighting efficiency in attack and defense modes.

In Muay Thai you fight with your fists, elbows, knees, and feet. That is why it is traditionally called the “art of eight limbs” or eight points of contact. Muay Thai training methods originated in Thailand and are distinguished from most other Asian martial arts in the use of the knees and elbows to deliver blows. The martial arts from China and Japan tend to emphasize the use of hands and feet. Many martial arts tournaments ban elbow strikes because they can be so devastating to the opponent and the risk of injury is higher.

The two main categories in the art of Pahuyut, the ancient form of Muay Thai unarmed combat, are called Muay Lak and Muay Kiew. Muay Lak is, however, almost extinct. Very few masters are left that teach this style, so you won’t see it’s techniques in the competition ring. This is because it requires extremely close combats in a straight line and can be lethal. Most gyms today teach Muay Kiew.

The first technique you must learn is called the Yang Sam Khum or three-step walk. Similar to learning scales on a piano or guitar, this technique helps the student learn the basic footwork which is absolutely essential for applying the techniques of Muay Thai. It is quite graceful and is performed before each bout in the Wai Kru dance as a way to honor the teacher and show the competition the fighter’s mastery.

In Muay Thai training, most students start by learning the round kick which is trained to strike at three levels. The first is a low level kick which targets the thigh, calf, and the back of the knee. Second is a mid level kick which aims for the ribs and torso. The third to master is the high level kick. It targets the neck, chin and temple of the head. Other basic kicks the student learn are the probe kick, the front kick, axe kick, the sweeping kick and the spinning hook and back kicks.

All kicks are delivered with a full range of motion and with the biomechanics of the kicks optimized to maximize the kick’s force and potential damage to the opponent. The round kick is performed with a full swing of the hips and trunk and the kicks are done with the shin instead of the foot much like using a baseball bat.

One of the most devastating weapons in Muay Thai is the knee, particularly when used in the clinch. In fact in Muay Thai training the clinch is not a position of rest as seen often on Western Boxing but a positional struggle in which a lot of damage can be done to wear down the opponent.

Muay Thai also uses the elbow at a variety of angles; there is the striking elbow, the levering elbow, the chopping elbow, the cutting elbow, the double elbow, the pull down elbow, and the diagonal elbow. When used correctly and forcefully, a few good elbow strikes can bring down an opponent quickly in combat
Finally, there are the punches; although similar to Western Boxing the traditional punches were not as well developed. However, with the increasing Western involvement in the system Western Boxing tactics are becoming more prevalent.

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