Muay Thai, also known as the “Art of Eight Limbs”, is a fighting style developed in Thailand. In 1560, it became compulsory for military training, and during the 18th century wars between Burmese and Siamese (now Thai) dynasties.

A captured warrior named Nai Khanomtom gained his freedom by winning a spectacle tournament, returning to Siam a hero and solidifying this fighting style in the national spirit.
Named for its combined use of fists, elbows, knees and shins, Muay Thai also utilizes clinches and sweeps to offer a complete and devastating system of martial art.
From Thailand’s military roots, Muay Thai began to gain the celebration of spectators in festivals, and in the mid-19th century, under King Chulalongkorn, Muay Thai became a sport of physical training, self-defense, recreation, and discipline.
In Learning Muay Thai, you will:
  • Gain Self-Confidence – With a strong, healthy body, you will look good and feel good. Your effort translates directly to a tangible reward: healthy hormones and quite possibly those ripped abs you have always wanted.
  • Build Explosive Cardio Strength – Muay Thai training builds your ability to output huge energy in short burst, and recover while still under demanding physical stress. This is very much like High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT).
  • Become Athletically Strong – Muay Thai trains your muscles and builds flexibility to realize your body’s full potential. This translates into the daily world in more ways than you might imagine; from being able to move that furniture, to catching the bus, to climbing that tree.
  • Find Discipline – In the constant trial-and-error of training, your body will become a weapon. Like any weapon, knowing how to be humble with your power will save you and others from unnecessary harm.
  • Learn Self Defense – Although not practical in street fights, Muay Thai will help you should a situation be forced upon you. By knowing how to create distance, you can end a fight quickly.
  • Find Calm – The focus of drills and sparring drives away all the background distractions of daily life. You will find yourself joyful in the concentration of the moment.
  • Discover Punching and Kicking is Fun! – Muay Thai is one of the few places it is not only encouraged, but necessary, to channel that aggression that modern society suppresses (for good reason). Of course, it is important to release that energy in a healthy, safe environment.
 
 
Stance, Balance, and Rythm
Balance is a cornerstone for any fight sport. You always need to be in control of your weight and movement, ready to attack, defend, or move out of the way.
Stance will dictate your balance and rhythm in Muay Thai. To find your stance, find a line on the ground.  Stand with your feet slightly wider than shoulder width apart with the line running through the balls of your feet. Now place your dominant foot (your stronger foot – the one you kick a ball with or is better to balance on) a half-step back. Place your other foot a half step forward.
Always stand slightly on the balls of your feet, with your knees slightly bent. Bring your fists up to the level of your cheekbones, wrists straight, knuckles facing out, palms facing in, at about a 45-degree angle to your face. Your dominant hand should rest an inch or two from your cheekbone, your lead hand offset another hands breadth away.
Keep your elbows a fist space away from your ribs. Always keep your chin tucked into your chest, and your shoulders slightly hunched up. Keep your torso straight. Orthodox stance fighters will have their left foot and hand forward, their right side loaded for more powerful shots. Southpaw fighters will have their right foot and hand forward.
Note: In many Muay Thai styles, the hands will be held further away from the body with the palms facing outward. This is a style that focuses more on controlling distance, important when clinches, elbows, and knees come in to play, but this is not a recommended style for beginners.
From this stance, you will throw all your basic strikes and will be able to retreat to your Guard. Your Guard is how you will protect yourself during incoming strikes. But before you learn to defend, you must learn the basic strikes.
Keep in mind, all energy in any strike first comes from the ground. You must transfer the movement from the earth, through your legs, where it is amplified through the torque in your hips, and thrown out through one of the Eight Points.
The Basic Muay Thai Strikes
These will be your bread and butter. They are the moves you will work on the longest, the moves you need to know before you can begin to defend yourself in your guard.
A few pointers to remember:
  1. Always throw a straight punch across your body, i.e., throw a left jab across your right side, connecting with the left side of your opponent.
  2. With any punch, try to connect with your first two knuckles on the index and middle finger.
  3. Punch straight out from the shoulder, do not wind up, i.e., draw your fist back before punching.
  4. After you throw a strike, immediately reset to your guard, anticipating the counter.
Jab
The jab is a very quick punch designed to stun your opponent and help set up a slower, more powerful strike.
  • Thrown with your forward hand.
  • Take a half step forward with your lead leg the same time you snap your lead fist forward.
  • Rotate your punch, so the punch connect with knuckles facing up.
  • Not full power, but speed and accuracy.
  • As soon as you have connected, snap your fist back to your guard position.
Cross
The Cross is your power punch to blast through an opening or knock down your opponent.
  • Thrown with your dominant hand.
  • In a fluid motion, pivot slightly on your back foot, onto the ball of your foot and twist that same hip forward, while you drive your dominant fist into the target.
  • Rotate your fist as in a jab. Do not over rotate -keep your elbow facing down as you throw the punch, turning it out to the side will waste energy that would be transferred to the target.
  • Always reset you guard as fast as you throw the punch, like a piston.
Hook
The hook is excellent for close range body shots or an opponent whose guard is low.
  • Thrown with either fist.
  • Pivot the foot on the side you are punching inwards 45 degrees, your hip following with it.
  • Swing your fist, thumb facing inwards towards you, at the target.
  • Connect with your knuckles.
  • Keep your elbow in line with your fist, supporting it, as you connect with the target.
  • You should throw the Hook with your elbow at almost a 90-degree angle.
  • Drive through the target with your hook, but do not overextend.
  • Reset to your guard.
Teep Kick
A Teep is thrown with your lead leg, it is the jab of kicks. Use Teep kicks to unbalance your opponent, and check an incoming attack.
  • Push up on the ball of your dominant foot, snap your lead leg up and out to the target, the midsection of your opponent.
  • Push your hips forward.
  • Connect with the ball of your lead foot.
  • You can rock your torso back slightly to push your hips out for more torque.
  • You can swing your lead hand back as a counterbalance but always keep your dominant hand up to protect your chin.
Note: Some Muay Thai styles will emphasize staying planted flat on your dominant leg, your posture upright, and driving your Teep Kick through like a step forward. This takes slightly more flexibility and provides slightly less range in your kick, and can leave you in an unbalanced position, so is not recommended for beginners.

Push Kick
A push Kick is thrown with your dominant leg. It is a more powerful, but slower version of the Teep. As the name suggests, a push kick is used to push your opponent back or onto the ground.
  • Step forward, driving up and through the target with your dominant leg,
  • Connecting with the “palm” of your foot.
  • Aim for your opponent’s midsection.
  • Drop your leg back to reset your guard after the strike.
Round Kick
A Round is thrown with your dominant leg. It may be the most important strike in Muay Thai, and can generate a huge amount of force if executed properly.
  • Step out slightly with your lead leg at a 45-degree angle, opening up your hips.
  • Lift the knee of your dominant leg, then whip your shin like a club into your target.
  • Drive your hip and weight behind the kick.
  • Always connect with the shin.
  • Always keep your toe pointed, in line with your shin.
  • Do not overextend e.g. if you miss with a kick, control and slow down the leg, resetting your stance, do not spin with the kick and leave yourself exposed.
The round kick is executed in one of three ways.
  • Low Kick – Aimed at the thigh of the opponent in a downward chopping motion. It is easy to drive your hip down in this kick to generate a lot of power. Repeated unchecked kicks to the thigh can end a fight, crippling the fighter’s ability to stand.
  • Body Kick – Aimed at the ribs or just under the ribs of the opponent. The body kick is the most common kick used in Muay Thai.  It requires lifting your leg higher and driving your hip to the side.  Drive up on the ball of your planted lead foot as you pivot for more pop and height to your kick. Do not lean your torso back, keep straight and balanced.
  • Head Kick/High Kick – Requires a lot of dexterity and is not a beginner’s move, as the momentum of an improperly executed high kick will seriously unbalance you. It is thrown like a Body Kick, but with a greater stretch to aim for the head.
Switch Kick
A kick that needs to be thrown quickly to catch your opponent off-guard.  To be practiced after comfortable with a round kick.
  • Thrown with your lead leg.
  • The technique is the same as a round kick
  • Rather than stepping out, you execute a small “hop” or “scissor” to switch your stance.
  • The switch should happen very quickly, and should not be a large motion.
  • Your dominant foot lands forward at a slight outward angle and your lead foot is now loaded.
 
Muay Thai Guard
Now that we have covered the basic strikes, we can learn how to defend against them in the Guard. Your basic Guard is when a straight punch (jab or cross) is thrown at your face, you cover your jaw and cheekbones with your gloves and tuck your chin.
 
Never cover your eyes or close your eyes. It may take a while to stop yourself from flinching from strikes, but it is crucial that you can see your opponent.
The Slip can be performed to help defend against a straight punch. All a Slip is, is a slight head movement so an incoming punch does not connect flush. In your guard, rotate your hips, torso, and head, about a handsbreadth to the opposite side of the incoming punch, i.e., if Slipping a left jab, Slip to your right. You do not need or want a large movement, just enough that the punch glances off your guard and does not connect fully.
If a hook is thrown, slide that guard part of the way back to your ear and move your shoulder up to protect your chin.
To block a round kick is a crucial skill in Muay Thai and will be your most utilized defense. To block, or Check, a round kick, raise your knee on the same side as the incoming kick and block their shin with your shin. Always keep your toe pointed down to the floor.
Keep your guard tight to the same side as your blocking leg, with your elbow behind and supporting your raised knee, your glove protecting your head.  If it is a high kick, at the same time, cross your free hand over to the blocking side in front of your other glove to help slow a kick coming at your head. Return to your guard immediately after the kick has been successfully blocked.
To block a front kick you need to use your movement. A hop backward will put you out of range, or a pivot, to make the kick glance off you instead of connecting flush.

 

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