Knee Techniques in Muay Thai
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.