Knee Techniques in Muay Thai

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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.

Different Knee Techniques -- Muay Thai Gym Thailand

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 Technique in Muay Thai -- Muay Thai Training Thailand

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.

Elbow Techniques in Muay Thai

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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.

Elbow Techniques of Muay Thai -- Muay Thai Camp Thailand

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.

Different Elbow Techniques in Muay Thai -- Muay Thai Gym Phuket

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.