Mar 13


Muay Thai techniques center around eight points of contact… in fact, Muay Thai is referred to the as the “Art of Eight Limbs” or the “Science of Eight Limbs.” These eight points of contact are:

·         Punching (Chok)

·         Elbow (Tee sok)

·         Kicking (Tae)

·         Knee (Tae kao)

This is a significant difference from western style boxing that focuses on two points of contact (each fist) and other traditional martial arts that utilize four (fists and feet). Most fighters will focus on the Muay Thai techniques centered around the elbows and knees when competing against an opponent of another style in order to gain an advantage.  Additionally, there is an emphasis on strong core movements starting with the hips that generate tremendous power.

Punching (Chok)

Traditional Muay Thai techniques focused on two primary strikes- crosses and long strikes (which were long circular strikes made with the palm of the hand). The melting pot of mixed martial arts has made a significant impact on Muay Thai punching techniques which now employ the full arsenal of traditional western boxing strikes, which includes:

·         Jabs (Mud Trong)

·         Crosses

·         Hooks (Mud Wiang San)

·         Uppercuts (Mud Seuy)

·         Hammer Fists

·         Overhands

In order to avoid exposing the head for counter attacks, Muay Thai techniques often avoid strikes to the body.

Another big difference in striking style is the stance employed in Muay Thai. Unlike the traditional boxing style that keeps the hands close to the head covering the face, an alternative Muay Thai technique is to keep the arms raised an in front of the fighter. This is often utilized to create and maintain distance when one fighter has a height advantage or prefers longer range strikes.

Elbow (Tee sok)

The elbow is an integral part of Muay Thai and can be used in several ways by a fighter. Here are some of the primary elbow strikes (these will be discussed in greater detail in future posts):

·         Elbow Slash (Sok Tee)

·         Horizontal Elbow (Sok Tud)

·         Uppercut Elbow (Sok Ngud)

·         Forward elbow thrust (Sok Poong)

·         Reverse Horizontal Elbow (Sok WIang Glub)

·         Spinning Elbow (Sok Glub)

·         Elbow Chop (Sok Sub)

·         Double Elbow Chop Mid-Air Elbow Strike (Sok Glub Koo)

As a general rule, diagonal elbows tend to be the fastest elbow strikes, but are less powerful. When used correctly, they can be incredibly effective at cutting an opponent’s face. Uppercut elbows and elbow chops tend to be the most powerful and inflict the most damage; however they are also easier to guard against and avoid.

Kicking (Tae)

When it comes to kicking the two most common Muay Thai techniques are the teep kick (foot jab) and teh chiang (angle kick).

The teep kick is akin to the jab. Offensively, it is used to gain distance, distract, and to set up for other attacks. Defensively, it can be used to prevent attacks and to maintain distance.

The teh chiang is a powerful kick that starts with the rotation of the hips to maximize the momentum and speed of the kick for maximum impact. On the surface, it appears similar to the roundhouse kick used in Karate, however the leg stays relatively straight and does not employ a rotation of the lower leg.

Additonally, there are several other Muay Thai techniques for kicking, which include:

·         Straight Kick (Tae Trong)

·         Roundhouse Kick (Tae Tud)

·         Diagonal Kick (Tae Chiang)

·         Spinning Heel Kick (Tae Glub Lang)

·         Axe Heel Kick (Tae Khao)

·         Jump Kick (Gra-dode Tae)

Knee (Tae kao)

The knee is perhaps the most integral part of Muay Thai techniques. The knees and the elbows are the most lethal assets a Muay Thai fighter can employ. Proper knees are thrown so that contact is made on the front portion of the leg either just below, directly on, or just above the knee cap. The foot should remain pointed during a knee in case a kick needs to be thrown. There are several different knee strikes, which include:

·         Straight Knee Strike (Kao Trong)

·         Diagonal Knee Strike (Kao Chiang)

·         Curving Knee Strike (Kao Kong)

·         Horizontal Knee Strike (Kao Tud)

·         Knee Slap (Kao Tob)

·         Knee Bomb (Kao Youwn)

·         Jumping Knee (Kao Loi)

·         Step-Up Knee Strike (Kao Yiep)

These eight points of contact form the foundation of a Muay Thai fighter and help make them a dynamic and dangerous opponent in any hand to hand combat situation. The mastery of these techniques is only the first step in becoming a great fighter. Once proficient at these foundation techniques, a fighter can move into the fifteen mae mai (major or mother techniques) followed by the luk mai (minor or more advanced techniques).

*Photo Credit to adaptorplug on Flickr

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