Muay Thai, the national sport of Thailand is a combat sport often referred to as the “Art of Eight Limbs.” Muay Thai makes use of kicks, punches, and knee and elbow strikes, using eight points of contact. Muay Thai combines traditional boxing moves with stand-up striking techniques and is a favorite of many MMA competitors.
Kicking and Punching
Kicking and punching techniques are essential to Muay Thai. Training usually begins with practice punches with a partner or practiced on a heavy bag. Punch techniques are typically divided into uppercuts, jab, hooks, straight punches and elbow punches.
Kicks include push kicks, low kicks and roundhouse kicks. Kicking techniques can be practiced with a partner or with a Muay Thai style heavy bag. Clinching kicks are best practiced with a training partner as opposed to with a bag.
Guards are techniques developed to protect the fighter from strikes and often focus on protecting your torso and head. Fighters keep one side of their body facing their opponent as it offers a smaller target, versus the fighter who stands in a traditional face-on position. This side stance better protects your vital organs from strikes. Your non-dominant hand is should be held at eyebrow level, with your other hand in a ready position and prepared to strike.
Muay Thai Boxing Moves
The Muay Thai student must learn several basic moves and techniques and should be practiced frequently with the goal of making your movements effective and unpredictable.
The round kick is used in a variety of martial arts, including judo and karate. It is performed by straightening your knee in a quick movement while snapping your foot into the target, opponent or training bag. When executed properly, you should allow a slight bend at your knee and the intended target should be struck with your shin. To increase power and impact, pivot your body so that when the kick lands, your shoulder and hip are facing the target.
A jab is a simple straight punch that is thrown with your dominant hand. Less pivoting is necessary with a jab than with other types of punches, such as the cross punch. Perform your jab quickly, snapping the punch out and back and avoid lifting your elbow before a jab is thrown as this signals your opponent of your intended move.
Knee strikes are a big part of Muay Thai. Clinch knee strikes are challenging to learn but are an invaluable technique for those who want to win. Your clinching kick must pull the head of your opponent to the center of their chest and turn it sharply from one side to another for the purpose of knocking your opponent off-balance. You then drive a hard knee into your opponent’s head, face or torso.
An elbow strikes are performed with the boney part of your elbow. Typically performed when you are close to your opponent. Elbow strikes can be thrown up, down, diagonally or sideways. Most Muay Thai fighters favor and practice one over the others, but you should become proficient in all four elbow strikes best practiced on a Muay Thai style heavy “banana” bag.