Gaining popularity worldwide, Muay Thai is a combat sport and a martial art like no other. It originated from Thailand using stand-up striking along with various clinching techniques. It has been a popular sport for many young Thai and foreigners who take pains in learning and mastering the furious punches, lethal kicks, crushing elbow strikes, artful feints and powerful grappling. Muay Thai is a proud heritage of the kingdom of Thailand.
Muay Thai training camps in Thailand are spread over Phuket, Bangkok, Pattaya and Chiang Mai. These Muay Thai training camps offer training programs for beginners, intermediate and advanced training. Famed and well-known champion fighters normally supervise the training programs in Muay Thai training camps they have affiliations with. From beginner’s training, one can move up to the intermediate level where more complex techniques using all eight weapons (elbows, knees, shins and legs) are learned. The more complex techniques are incorporated to improve cardio/endurance, strength, speed and masterful ability to execute Muay Thai strikes and blocks properly.
From intermediate, the trainee will move to advanced training wherein more diverse striking Muay Thai techniques are taught. Some of the advanced Muay Thai techniques learned in advanced level include:
- Superman Punch. This punch is executed after throwing some low leg kicks to the opponent, intended to knock him out. It is used to surprise an opponent and get them worried about what strike is coming next.
- Spinning Back Fist. The spin is performed by putting one foot crossed behind the other, then pivoting the hip and having the elbow follow through. It is a sneaky technique that can catch the opponent by surprise. It can cause a lot of damage to the opponent if executed properly.
- Spinning Back Elbow. Very similar to a spinning back fist, a spinning back elbow can knock out the opponent with a powerful elbow strike.
- Flying Knee. This is done by jumping straight upwards horizontally aiming to strike the opponent’s chin, similar to an uppercut punch. It is used when close to the opponent and during a clinch, when the opponent is against the rope or wall.
- Switch Cross/Hook/Uppercut. When the opponent sees a quick switch in stance, it means a switch round-house kick or knee is coming. But with this technique, a switch cross, hook or uppercut is not seen coming.
- Muay Thai Sweeps. When standing, sweep is used to take an opponent to the ground by knocking their legs out from under them. The force of the sweep runs perpendicular to the opponent’s leg or rises as it strikes the leg, lifting the foot from the ground. It can also disrupt the opponent’s balance long enough to make an opening for a punch or kick.
Muay Thai is a form of martial arts developed in Thailand centuries ago. Also considered combat sports, Muay Thai, over the years, has grown to produce great fighters not just from Thailand but from other countries as well. The innumerable camps for Muay Thai Training all over Thailand indicate the numerous people interested in becoming great and world-class Muay Thai fighters. And there is no better place to learn the craft than in Muay Thai Camp Phuket, Thailand, where most of the training camps are located.
Muay Thai training in Thailand is open for everyone. In fact, a lot of foreign nationals specifically go to Thailand for the training. Some choose to take part in an intensive training program prepared by experienced trainers for their fighters who are being trained for big Muay Thai fights. Others choose just to learn the basics of the sport. If some people wanted to make it a profession, some people are just learning the sport to make it part of their fitness training program. Muay Thai basic training is a physically demanding form of workout and anyone who tries it will absolutely remain in good shape and physical condition.
Training routines vary from gym to gym as different training camps prepare a different routine or program for the new Muay Thai students and advanced training fighters. But while the routines differ, one thing is common – the training is very intense and rigid and will require a good amount of strength and stamina from the person. Muay Thai makes use of eight body parts (limbs) namely, hands, elbows, knees and shins. This is in contrast to western boxing, which uses the fists to ward off opponents.
Depending on which Muay Thai training camp in Phuket or other places in Thailand you sign up with, the basic training will more or less include the following routines:
This involves running or skipping for about 15 to 20 minutes to sweat out, stretch the muscles and make the body adjust to the upcoming rigid activities. Stretching exercises and activities are also included in this routine. Stretching is aimed at improving the level of flexibility of the trainees.
This is a continuous 20 to 30 minutes morning routine intended to strengthen upper and lower legs and overall stamina.
This is another important basic Muay Thai routine. This will help you develop suitable strategies and techniques that can be used in fighting opponents. This will also allow you to practice your kicks, punches, elbow and knees techniques. Usually done in front of a mirror, Muay Thai trainees are able to see the correct execution of movements.
This routine is aimed at strengthening the body and increases the capacity to endure kicks and punches from the opponents. Trainees will do resistance training of core muscles using free weights – barbells or dumbbells.
Bag and pad routines
This is where punches and kicks, knees and elbow techniques are practiced.
This is aimed at improving movement coordination and strengthening the shoulders.
This is the last routine of the basic Muay Thai training. This routine will teach you how to control your opponent. It will also improve your techniques and give you the experience to feel the real Muay Thai fight in the ring.
Being an intensive sport, Muay Thai requires sustained energy throughout the training especially for beginners. A person will experience generalized body pain after the first training session but it will gradually fade away. After a few training sessions, big changes can be observed by a fighter in his/her physical appearance, stamina and overall wellness. Indeed, Muay Thai is a good sport to get engaged with as it allows a person to develop a sense of equilibrium in a person’s well-being.
The Art of Eight Limbs – this is how Muay Thai is often referred to. This Thai combat sport makes use of the hands, elbows, knees and shins as fighting weapons against opponents. In many Muay Thai gym Thailand is known for, Muay Thai trainees are taught the many fighting techniques using these eight weapons, honing the ability to master execution of eight strikes using eight points of contact which is very different from the Western’s two-point techniques using only the fists. It is not surprising then that a lot of Muay Thai enthusiasts intentionally go to a Muay Thai Camp in Thailand for it is known for producing the best Muay Thai fighters and to have their training as well.
One of the fighting techniques taught in training camps or gyms is the knee technique. It is called Tee – Khao or Knee-kick. These techniques involve the intensive use of the knees to effectively fight off opponents. The knee kick is done by raising the knee to attack and this can be difficult to do especially for beginners. This technique requires maintaining proper balance when attacking. Professional Muay Thai trainers patiently teach the fighters how to knee-kick, which requires a fighter to be at close quarter with the opponent. Alternatively, knee-kicks are also used to attack an opponent at long range, which is called a flying knee kick. Many times, in order to use knee kick, the fighter has to grab the opponent’s neck to “lock and attack”. The fighter should be prepared though to the opponent’s elbow-strike attack. It is important that concentration and defense are not lost when using knee-kick techniques.
There are five knee-kick techniques:
- Khao Trong or Straight Knee-kick. A straight knee kick is done by simply grabbing the opponent’s neck with two hands, raising the knee straightly to attack the target. The difficulty will be in grabbing the opponent’s neck especially if he is an experienced boxer as well. This is another skill that can be learned from in-depth training with the professionals. The aim for straight knee-kick is to target the body, specifically the stomach. Muay Thai rules prohibits knee-kicking the opponent’s groin.
- Khao Chiang or Diagonal Knee-kick. Diagonal knee-kick is done in similar way to straight knee kick by grabbing the opponent’s neck with two hands. In this technique, knee is raised to attack in different direction, that is, diagonally. A diagonal knee kick will target the thigh, rib and side of the body. Straight knee-kicks cannot reach these target points.
- Khao Tad or Horizontal Knee-kick. This knee-kick is slightly different from the straight and diagonal knee kicks. The horizontal knee kick requires grabbing the opponent’s neck with just one hand to keep the other hand on guard. The knee is swung horizontally, moving parallel to the ground to attack the target. The hip is twisted when making the attack in the same direction of knee kick. This technique will increase the power of the kick. The free hand should guard your chin.
- Khao Tob or Knee-slap. This is one of the weapons most used in Muay Thai competition. The knee slap targets the trunk and ribs by grabbing the opponent’s neck with two hands, raising the knee using the inner part of the knee joint to slap on the target.
- Khao Yieb or Step-up Knee-kick. This technique requires more skill and timing. This knee-kick is done by using the lead leg to step on the opponent’s thigh and raising your body up to thrust the knee of the other leg to attack the target. The main targets are the facial area and chin. This could be the most powerful knee-kick technique, but because it is difficult to learn, not too many boxers use this technique.
Knee techniques are quite a difficult technique to learn because controlling the knees while maintaining balance is more challenging than throwing punches or kicks. That is the reason behind hard training in Muay Thai, it helps a fighter build coordination, control and balance in combining the techniques. It takes time and focus to finally see and feel that you already have a well-coordinated body parts to be used in attacking an opponent while having good defense.
Since the knee is one of the strongest and most solid bone structure we have in our body, developing its use for a detrimental attack will most likely knock your opponent down. Developing more strength and solid power in using your knee could be of great advantage.
Muay Thai as a form of combat sport has its own unique techniques. Muay Thai boxing techniques are the way to effectively use nine weapons which are the head, fists, elbows, knees and feet. Collectively, they are called Na-wa arwud. However, in today’s Muay Thai rules, head is no longer included as a weapon and not allowed in the Muay Thai fights. Muay Thai training Phuket fighters has removed the use of head in Muay Thai techniques.
Muay Thai techniques, as taught in a typical Muay Thai camp in Thailand, fighters trained are divided into two groups: Mae Mai or “major” or “master” techniques and Luk Mai or “minor” or “complementary” techniques. All Muay Thai techniques use the entire body movement, rotating the hip partially or fully with every punch, kick and block. This is what sets Muay Thai training apart from other forms of martial art.
While it may be possible to win a fight using just one technique, a Muay Thai boxer who masters the use of each of his eight weapons will definitely be able to face and outdo his opponent.
One of the eight lethal weapons learned in training is the Elbow technique. Muay Thai elbow techniques taught demonstrate how a fighter can properly use his elbows to beat the opponent. There are Muay Thai elbow techniques mechanism and nine types of elbow strikes in Muay Thai boxing, namely:
- Sok Ti (Striking Elbow or Elbow Slash)
- Sok Tad or Sok Tat (Perpendicular or Horizontal Elbow)
- Sok Ngat (Uppercut Elbow)
- Sok Phung (Forward Elbow Thrust)
- Sok Klap (Spinning Elbow)
- Sok Sap (Elbow Chop)
- Sok Ku or Sok Klap Khu (Double Elbows or Double Elbow Chop)
- Sok Wiang Klap (Reverse Horizontal Elbow)
- Kradot Sok (Mid-Air Elbow Strike)
In Muay Thai, the elbow is used in seven ways – horizontally, diagonal upwards, diagonal downwards, uppercut, downward, backward spinning and flying. It is also used from the sides as a finishing move or to cut the opponents’ eyebrow so that he bleeds. Bleeding blocks the vision and also affects the fighter’s performance. The diagonal elbows are less powerful but they are faster than the other forms.
There is also a distinct difference between a single elbow and a follow-up elbow. The single elbow is an elbow move, which is independent from any other move. A follow-up elbow, on the other hand, is the second strike from the same arm, being a hook or straight punch first with an elbow follow-up. Such elbows, and most other elbow strikes, are used when the distance between fighters is too small and there is too little space to throw a hook at the opponent’s head. Elbows can also be utilized to great effect as blocks or defenses against, for example, spring knees, side body knees, body kicks or punches.
The sport covers a lot of techniques in which a fighter is taught how to defend or attack another fighter with so much power and speed. Speed and accuracy in every attack is important to knock down an opponent while speed and proper mindset in anticipating attacks is critical to avoid being knocked down and to have good defense.
The elbow technique is just one of the lethal techniques in Muay Thai in combination with different power punches and kicks. Proper training, diet and tactical thinking also plays a big part in succeeding in the combat sports that is present in most Muay Thai training camp in Phuket and all over Thailand.
When training in a Muay Thai Camp in Thailand, Muay Thai would-be fighters are taught different techniques important to this combat sport from Thailand. One of such techniques is the Muay Thai punch. Muay Thai training in Thailand promotes and had seen numerous local Thai and foreign fighters develop into strong and successful Muay Thai world champions. It just proves the kind of Muay Thai Training Phuket gyms offer – one that ensures a trainee a successful career in kickboxing.
A basic of Muay Thai techniques is the Muay Thai punches. At a time when men did not have any weapon to fight wild animals and even human beings as well, they made use of every part of their body as a defensive weapon needed for survival. Punch is the easiest defensive and offensive weapon to control compared to the other parts of the body.
What to Hit with Muay Thai Punch
In Muay Thai gym Phuket trainers emphasize the proper Muay Thai Punch techniques in order to accurately hit the target. The fighter should use the knuckles as this is the most effective way to hit the target. The usual target of a Muay Thai fighter is the area of the upper body towards the face. But regardless of where the punch hit the target, it is important to remember to immediately pull back the fist away from the opponent in order to prevent exposing the fighter to counter-punching of the opponent. The punch thrown should unnerve the opponent.
There are five categories of Muay Thai punches, which are learned in any Muay Thai a gym Thailand is plentiful. These are:
This is used to find the range by irritating the opponent. Accurate and skillful jabbing will cause the opponent to feel anxious. This punch requires a lot of practice on the punching bag. This type of punch could be used in defense, attack or retreat.
The Straight Punch
Muay Thai trainers ensure that each fighter is taught to use straight punch mainly to attack the opponent’s facial area such as chin, nose, or mouth. The knuckles are used to increase the effectiveness of this punch along with twisting the opponent’s shoulders. Straight punch is always use after the jab.
This punch is used mainly to attack side facial area such as the temple, nose, or ear. The elbow is bent a bit and the back of the knuckle is used to attack. To increase the effectiveness of the hook, a fighter may combine the hook with twisting the opponent’s shoulders.
This type of punch is generally thrown at a further distance than the distance covered by the hook. Targeted by swings are areas around the jaw line or the ribs. When there is a gap on the opponent’s body or face, a swing can be thrown. As the punch hits the target, make sure that the knuckles take the brunt of the impact.
Muay Thai fighters use the uppercut punches to target to attack the opponent’s chin and stomach. To do the uppercut, knees and elbows are bent slightly before a punch is made vertically to attack the opponent. When the opponent is very close to the Muay Thai fighter or when they are in a stooping position, the uppercut will be more effective. Alternatively, it is also possible to attack by knee kick instead of uppercut.
Muay Thai punches if combined with different style of kicks could badly hurt an opponent especially if it’s done with so much power. Everyday intensive Muay Thai training enhances a fighter’s skill and senses in mastering the art of the sport, which could make any fighter one of the best.
For most Thai men who are lacking in height and physique, physical fighting always put them at a disadvantage. Good thing Muay Thai employs some powerful kicking techniques which somehow offset the physical disadvantage and turned the feet into effective defense weapon against aggressors.
“Tao” for the Southerners of Thailand refers to feet. In Muay Thai, “tae” refers to kick. Muay Thai kicking techniques are one of the important techniques in Thai Boxing as kicks can really be powerful and violent. If properly trained, one’s kicks can be a lethal weapon that can protect lives, property, families and the country.
There are five kicking techniques in Muay Thai Boxing, namely:
- Tae Tad (Side kick or Round kick). Tae Tad is commonly used in Muay Thai. This kicking technique is easy to control and one can maintain balance after the kick and be prepared for the opponent’s counter strike. Tae Tad is done by bending the legs a little and swinging the kick to the area around the knee joint or the back of the knee joint. For the kicking leg to be really powerful, it should be straightened. One should move forward to kick with the hand guard up securely. Do not drop your guard, or you might suffer from the counter-punch.
- Tae Chieng (Diagonal Kick). A diagonal kick targets the lower rib-cage and use the shin to attack. To attain maximum efficiency, the kick should make a 45 degree angle against the floor. You should kick by letting the instep of the back of the foot hit the target. The body should be inclined in the opposite direction of the kick. Swing your leg upwards in the appropriate angle and before the point of impact, twist the foot such that the arch faces down. The instep should hit the back of the neck of your opponent. The secret of this diagonal kick is that kick will be higher when your supporting leg causes your body to incline more in the opposite direction. This lethal kick normally targets area around the ears, the back of the neck, the upper thighs, the right and left arms. While executing this kick, one should always keep one hand on guard to protect the face from a possible counter-punch or the knee thrust.
- Tae Kod (Down round kick). Hook kicks are also commonly used due to its power which is more than the power of a side kick or diagonal kick. Such power results from the kick causing the hip and body to fully twist in the same direction of the swing, thus increasing the power of the kick. The hook kick can be used to attack opponent who docks down or in a lower position. However, the major disadvantage of the hook kick is losing the balance if you miss the target. This may give your opponent the chance to retaliate.
- Tae Pub Nok (Kick to the outside of the knee joint). Tae Pub Nok is the kick to the outside of the knee joints of your opponent. For a proper kick, you must sway your body a little away from the opponent, then move right up to the opponent with this kick as a greeting.
- Tae Pub Nai (Kick to the inside of the knee-joint). This is the kick to the inside of the opponent’s knee joint done by stepping closer to the opponent and swinging the kick to the inside. When the foot hits the target, the opponent’s leg will be blasted sideways, thus making him lose balance. At this moment, one has many options for doing damage to the opponent.
Muay Thai kicks are commonly used in competition. Its power is enough to knockout an opponent. All it takes is a powerful kick and you can send your opponent down. Muay Thai techniques are learned and it takes time to master it. Continuous training is important to enhance the power or strength of every kick thrown to the opponent.
Muay Thai, also known as Thai Boxing is Thailand’s national sport and cultural martial arts. It is an ancient art of self defense, intertwined with Thailand’s history and culture. It was developed several hundreds of years ago as a form of close-combat technique that utilizes the entire body as a weapon. Today, Muay Thai has grown into a popular sport, not just in Thailand but all over the world.
Sukothai, Krungsri Ayutthaya, King Naresuan Era
Muay Thai’s history dates back in as early as the Buddhist years in 1238 when the first Thai army was established in the northern city of Sukothai, Siam, being its capital. History records showed that there was a need to defend the capital city at that time, as spawned by many wars being fought between the neighboring tribes and kingdoms. As such, the Siamese army was created to give protection to the government and its people within the surrounding villages and the city. As part of the preparation, soldiers were taught hand-to-hand combat using fists, feet, knees and elbows, the use of weaponry and how to use the entire body as a fighting weapon. This training is what eventually evolved into Muay Thai and Krabi Krabong that people know today.
Since then, it has become ingrained in the culture of the early Siamese people to learn the military arts or Muay Thai. The constant threat of war had prompted the people to put up training centers throughout the kingdom. These were the first-known Muay Thai camps where young Siamese men practiced the art form for different reasons – self-defense, discipline and exercise. The Thai monks even instructed at many Buddhist temples, passing down knowledge and history from one generation to the next.
These Muay Thai camps gained popularity among the poor and common people. It also became a rite of passage for Thai men to take up Muay Thai training. This, according to stories, is believed to have been made mandatory by one of Thailand’s most celebrated warrior-heroes, King Naresuan the Great, who is said to be an excellent boxer himself. It has also been made a requirement for the high-class and the royalty. Even the two sons of King Phokhun Sri In Tharatit – the first King of Sukhothai, were sent to the Samakorn training center to learn the martial arts. It was a common notion that good warriors made brave leaders. Learning Muay Thai will prepare them as future rulers of the kingdom.
The Era of King Narai
It is during this era that Muay Thai became a national sport and has remained a national tradition for the next 400 years. The headband called the “Mongkong” and the armband called “pa-pra-jiat” were both introduced during this era. The first “Muay Thai fighting ring” was made by laying a rope on the ground in a square or circle as a designated fighting area.
The King Prachao Sua Era
Another royalty who loved competing in Muay Thai was King Prachao Sua. He often disguised himself as a commoner when he entered tournaments in small cities and villages. And because of the disguise, no one recognized him as the King, he was allowed to participate in a tournament against several notable fighters.
The Thonburi Era
During this period, Thailand began to see peace and the kingdom was slowly being reconstructed. Training in Muay Thai was generally for military soldiers and as a favored past time for those not in the military. The community’s new found peace had turned Muay Thai sport to be more competitive.
The Ratanakosin, King Rama I,
During these eras, Muay Thai had become a national fighting art and rules and regulations were introduced. The sport had become an integral part of celebrations and festivities across the country. During the reign of King Rama I, a competitive fight between a French and Thai fighters was arranged at the Grand Palace where a bet of 4000 Bahts or 50 changs. But the French fighter’s brother broke the rules by jumping into the ring when he felt that his brother was losing the game and which resulted into fighting between the foreigners and the Thai guards and spectators.
The Reign of King Rama V
This was considered the golden age of Muay Thai with King Rama V personally promoting the sport from the late 1880?s to the turn of the century. Many times, the top fighters at the Royal Muay Thai Centers would be given personal invitations by the King to fight at tournaments, festivals and important international events. In 1887 the Department of Education was created making Muay Thai as part of the Military Cadet teachers’ school curriculum.
Muay Thai uses all eight weapons – hands, feet, knees and elbows and is often referred to as “The Science of Eight Limbs”. Many consider Muay Thai as the most effective stand up fighting art on Earth. Muay Boran or the Old Style Muay Thai includes the head as the 9th weapon.
- PUNCHES. Muay Thai Punch techniques emphasize on the effective use of fists, how to clench the fists, twisting the wrists techniques, and five categories of Muay Thai kickboxing punch techniques to include:
- Straight Punch
- ELBOWS. This is about how can you properly use elbows to beat the opponent, Muay Thai elbow techniques mechanism, and eight types of elbow strikes in Muay Thai Boxing techniques:
- Striking Elbow (Sok Ti)
- Perpendicular Elbow (Sok Tad)
- Levering Elbow (Sok Hud)
- Diagonal Elbow (Sok Chieng)
- Chopping Elbow (Sok Sab)
- Smash Downward Elbow (Sok Tong)
- Double Elbows (Sok Ku)
- Reverse Elbow (Sok Klab)
- KNEES. Muay Thai has 7 knee techniques categories:
- Straight knee (Kao Tone)
- Jumping knee (Kao Dode)
- Small knee (Kao Nui)
- Rabbit knee (Kao Kratai)
- Farewell knee (Kao La)
- Lower knee (Kao Lod)
- Flying knee (Kao Loi)
- KICKS. There are 5 popular types of kick in Muay Thai:
- Side Kick or Round Kick (Tae Tad)
- Diagonal Kick (Tae Chiang)
- Hook kick or Down round kick (Tae Kod)
- Kick to the outside of the knee joint (Tae Pub Nok)
- Kick to the inside of the knee joint (Tae Pub Nai)