»The Low Roundhorse Kick of Muay Thai
How to? The Low Roundhouse Kick of Muay Thai
1-There are a # of varieties to this kick.
I will discuss one of them in this post. We can get into variations on this
2-Remember, with the Low Roundhouse kick of MT, the target area ranges from your opponents ankle up to his upper thigh.
3- I will try to break this up into a few steps, but remember, when the
kick is actually executed, all the steps flow together into one motion.
**alright, enough with the disclaimers already**
When performing this kick, you must first be at the correct distance from your opponent. Unlike straight kicks and snap kicks the body momentum is generated by stepping sideways at an angle, rather than towards your opponent (or target). The correct distance for this kick is when your opponent is JUST BEYOND punching range. During practice, extend your lead hand to your opponent or target. You should be able to touch the opponent or target by simply leaning forward a little bit.
#1-STEP AND LEAN: Step sideways at a 45 degree angle to the intended target. As you
step, your stepping foot should start to rotate. Make sure you are stepping on your tippy toes, not on a flat foot. As you step, you should lean your body in the direction that you step. This helps get your body momentum going, which is a key ingredient to this kick.
#2-ROTATE (and lean): Your entire body most rotate on the ball of your foot. Your leg should be straight (or very close to straight) during the entire kick. As you rotate and kick, your body should stay leaned away from the kicking leg. This acts as a counterbalance of sorts, and gets the weight of your upper body behind the kick.
When the leg strikes the intended target, it should strike with the lower portion of the shinbone and/or the very upper part of the instep. The momentum of the kick should follow through the target. The kick does not stop at impact! The follow through is probably the most important facet of this kick. Think of your leg as a baseball bat. Swing it all the way through the target, attempting to break through everything in it's path.
The above instructions are very simplified, and without the benefit of photo's or demonstration, may not make complete sense. I have left out of the steps the instructions on how to hold your guard as you kick as that has been addressed in another post. I will finish this up with some bullet points.
*again, do not kick if you are standing too far away from the opponent. This forces you to step INTO the opponent when covering the distance, and gets your body's momentum traveling in the wrong direction
*when you lean away from the kick, lean far enough away so that your head is out of reach of your opponents punches. ESPECIALLY during low kicks, as you have to stand closer to your opponent while executing them.
*swing your leg in a "dead legged" style using your hip. Very similar to kicking a soccer ball or football. DO NOT "SNAP" THE LEG! Follow all the way through the intended target. If you were to miss, the kick would literally spin you around!
*When the kick impacts with the target, the heel of your support foot should be pointing at your target. Or, you can think of it as having your knee facing completely away from the target.
*Remember to keep the foot extended! Many people forget to do this b/c they are kicking with the shin and therefore forget to pay mind to what they do with their foot. Kicking with a "lazy ankle" leads to injuries.
*The impact with the intended target (when the kick is thrown correctly) creates a "rebound" effect. Learn to use this to get yourself back into your basic stance rather than "retracting" your leg.
*The most common target is the outside of your opponents lead leg on the thigh. However, do not forget that the rest of the leg, both inside and out is a legal target. (I expect to discuss the "Submarine" kick or "Cut" kick later in this discussion)
Oops, I forgot to add one bullet point, though it was alluded to in the post.
*Remember, for those who have studied other kicking styles, the impact area is now the lower shinbone. That means you have to adjust your kicking range to reflect this! The is a small, but very important adjustment...
*The support leg bends when kicking low. The lower your kick, the lower you bend your support leg. Remember to still stay on your tippy toes.
(*with the higher rdhouse kicks, some boxers straighten the support leg when kicking, some don't. I recommend trying both ways to see which feels more comfortable, gives you more power, and allows you to keep your balance)
*When kicking (or performing any MT technique) it is important to remember that the feet, hips and shoulders all move as ONE UNIT! There should never be any twist to your body. If the feet rotate to the left, your hips and shoulders rotate to the left with them. By moving the body as one unit, the boxer is able to get his or her full weight into his or her techniques.
***ok, I'm done. If I've forgotten something, ask.***
Khun Kao Charuad
SuriyaSak Muay Thai at USDC
»Muay Thai, dropping lead hand when kicking
Thai boxers do typically drop one of their hands when executing a roundhouse kick. The reason, as you surmised is for both leverage and added power.
Though you were referring only to the lead side roundhouse kick, and the dropping of the lead hand, the same is true for the rear legged roundhouse kick.
For one, roundhouse kicks from the lead leg are naturally weaker b/c they do not benefit anywhere near as much from the body's rotation during the kick. When the lead hand "drops" it does not actually just drop, but is swung.
The swing is to:
#1-generate additional power while pivoting and
#2-help the boxer maintain his/her balance.
A third and not well known reason (unless you study Muay Thai) is that the swing arm can be used to interfere with your opponent. You are sticking it in his face and brushing either his punches or guard aside as you kick.
Further, the arm may drop, but the shoulder does NOT! When a Thai boxer kicks, he is leaning away from the kicking leg. Doing this adds more of the body's weight to the force of the kick AND gets the boxers head OUT OF THE WAY of a counterstrike.
Also, ONLY ONE arm drops! The other should come up in front of the face in a high guard position that places the elbow near jaw level and the hand practically above the head. This creates a more solid barrier. The shoulder of the arm that is dropped protects the jaw on the other side.
The above hold true for roundhouse kicking techniques from both sides. Let me know if what I wrote above does not make complete sense, and I will try to clarify it better.
Khun Kao Charuad
SuriyaSak Muay Thai at USDC
»Using the Muay Thai, Low Roundhorse Kick
In a previous post, I discussed how to execute the MT Low Roundhouse Kick. In this post, I'd like to discuss when to use it and some of the subtle varieties to this kick.
To start off, the kick is designed to destroy your opponents base. Thai boxers often refer to kicking their opponents legs as "chopping down the tree". The low kicks are often used most during the beginning of the match to deaden the opponents leg. After the leg has been beaten on a bit to slow them down, the kicks start being aimed at the midsection. This is b/c the legs are going to now be slower to lift to block the incoming kick, and also to beat on your opponents ribs and breadbasket to knock the wind out of him. (Much like de la Hoya just did to Coley) Towards the later stages of the fight, when your opponent is tired, the kicks go upstairs to the neck and jaw for the knockout!
***with all leg kicks, the hand that is on the same side as the kicking leg should be extended into your opponents face! This blocks his/her line of sight, and also puts a barrier between you two, making counterattacks harder to execute!***
As mentioned, there are many variations to leg kicks. The most common leg kick is a roundhouse kick to the outside of the thigh of your opponent's lead leg. When this kick is executed, it commonly is thrown so that the kick is traveling on a horizontal plane with the ground.
One slight variation to this kick is changing the angle of your initial step so that instead of kicking the outside of the thigh, you kick directly across the front of the thigh. To do this, step more sideways than at an angle as you kick.
If you opponent is standing with the same side lead stance as you (both of you in left side leads, for example) You can throw a lead-legged roundhouse kick to the inside of their lead ankle or calf. No step is required, just lean back and rotate in place. The kick should travel upwards as though you are kicking a ball, not sideways. This kick is commonly used with the inside of the instep as the striking surface. This kick is amazingly painful to your opponent as the inside of the ankle and calf is not very protected by the body's muscle structure. You do not have to kick very hard to break your opponents stance, making it easy to follow with a few quick straight punches down the pike!
One of our gym's favorite "tricks" is what we refer to as the "submarine kick", and other gyms refer to as a "cut kick". The proper way to block a low roundhouse kick is to raise you leg and block with the knee/shin. The idea is to sucker your opponent into raising the leg block, then bringing the kick underneath the raised leg to strike the support leg. To set this up, you can throw 1 or 2 roundkicks to the outside or your opponents thigh so that they will automatically raise the leg to defend when they see you bringing the next kick. Step more deeply and get down low so that your kicking leg passes under their block (or strikes near their blocking foot and pushes through) to their support leg. You should try to use your leg to "scoop" them off of their feet. You can also use your swing arm to help them by pushing them across your kicking leg. If done correctly, your opponent will perform a lovely cartwheel in the air, landing on their head.
One final technique that I will mention in this post is kicking at the outside of your opponents knee in a downward, chopping motion. The idea is to buckle their knee so that their stance is broken, giving you the opportunity to counter while they regain their feet. To perform the downward motion, when the kick reaches its apex, you rotate your hip all the way over so that your kick is now aiming back at the floor, and you "chop" it through. This kick has considerable power with practice. (This is also an excellent kicking angle to use when kicking at an opponents head. The added power of rolling the hip over and kicking back into the floor can often break through an opponents strong guard to land on their neck or jaw, producing a knockout)
»Setting up the Low Roundhorse Kick
As I'm sure everyone can imagine, with their being so many variations on the Low Roundhouse Kick of Muay Thai, there are also several variations when it comes to setting the kick up. I'll attempt to discuss some of them. Ultimately, once you learn the kick proficiently, you will find your own way. View these as guidelines, or basics...
Let's start with the Low Roundhouse Kick to the outside of your opponents lead leg. For our purposes, both fighters will be considered to be in left-side lead. You wish to kick with your right leg to the outside thigh of your opponents left leg.
My preferred method to set up a kick to the leg is to start with a punching combination first. By getting your hand in your opponents face, you are distracting his attention upstairs and away from your intended target. The combination: JAB-CROSS-REAR RDHOUSE KICK is not only one of the most basic combo's, but arguably the most effective. (This is true of almost every punching/kicking art)
Referring to the above combo, I personally teach two approaches to it. Continuous flow and broken rhythm.
CONTINUOUS FLOW: in this version of the combo, each strike follows a steady flow, striking one after the other. To do this, the JAB is thrown as a real punch, but the CROSS is only thrust into your opponents face and left there to block his line of sight. The KICK then comes right behind the "CROSS" into the leg. The reason for throwing a fake cross is so that you CAN throw the kick in the same rhythm. If you throw a real cross, you are forced to plant you feet for a split second, preventing you from flowing into a kick. Therefore, only thrust the hand forward into their eyes as though you are punching and leave it there as you kick. (See my previous postings on how you can hold your arms while kicking for more details)
BROKEN RHYTHM: This combo is thrown with each technique being a genuine strike. Simply throw the jab-cross combination, return to your basic stance, then execute a low roundhouse kick. Done properly, the jab-cross combo should momentarily stun the opponent giving you opportunity to get the kick in. With this combo, you have the option to kick with either leg if you so choose. IMPORTANT NOTE- after executing the jab-cross, take half a shuffle backwards to give yourself room to throw a really good kick. If you kick from where you are after completing the jab-cross combo, you will be too close to get a really effective kick off. In the CONTINUOUS MOTION version of the combo, you don't have to adjust because of it's flow. The punches are more diversionary to allow you to get the kick in unexpectedly.
FAKING, THEN KICKING: As mentioned before, a favorite way to land the SUBMARINE KICK (low rdhouse to opponents support leg when opponent attempts to leg block with lead) is to sucker your opponent into lifting a leg block high for you to go underneath. First, set a pattern by kicking at the thigh, making your opponent used to blocking it high. Do a hip thrust as though you are starting to kick, the second the opponent begins to lift the leg, come underneath with the SUBMARINE KICK to his support leg.
PUSH KICK: Another set up for the low kick is to push kick first. If the push kick lands effectively, your opponent will either be staggered, or at least have forward momentum halted, as the push kick is being placed back to the ground, set it down into the step that leads to the roundhouse kick. In other words, you throw a lead-leg push kick, instead of retracting it, set it down into the ground into a step sideways (at a 45 degree angle) directly into roundkicking.
DEFENSIVE SET UPS
Above, I mentioned how to set up offensively for the low rdhouse kick. Now I'll discuss defensively setting it up.
KICK to INSIDE OF OPPONENTS LEAD LEG: you can use this rdhouse kick with a similar objective to the push kick. When your opponent tries to move fwd's to strike, throw the short, rising rdkick to the inside of the lead ankle or knee. This will stagger him and nullify his attack.
LEG BLOCK: After using a leg block to stop a kick, place the blocking leg down while stepping (as the offensive push kick set up) directly into a low roundhouse kick. You can either attack the opponents leg that he just kicked with (as he is still trying to set it down) or the support leg (he is still on one leg).
AFTER SWEEPING KICK ASIDE: If you opponent throws a push kick, and you sweep it to your outside correctly, you will expose the back of your opponent, leaving the backs of his legs open targets for a low kick. Kick at the leg you swept aside, as that should be the easiest target.
***NOTE: I have not discussed this technique yet, but there is a method to block a mid-body level rdhouse kick AND sweep it aside. You can apply the above low kick counterattack the same way.***
LEANING AWAY FROM HIGH KICK: If your opponent throws a high roundhouse kick, one defense is to simply lean back so that the kick misses. When your opponent misses, the missed kick will continue to spin him exposing his back. Again, I recommend attacking the kicking leg as he brings it down to the floor.
Well, that's all for now. I hope the descriptions were adequate. If you reference my previous posts on the low kick and hand positions while kicking, it should help tie it all together.
As always, comments, question, criticisms, thoughts, and party anecdotes are encouraged. Also, if there are any other topics re: Muay Thai's techniques, culture, or whatever, please post and I will do my best to answer them.
This article is a reprint. It originally appeared in the Team SuriyaSak USA newsletter, "Elbow KO" back in June, 1995. Thought I'd share it. It was originally titled "Muay Thai Myths and Legends".
So, this kick comes up to me and asks, "When will I be ready to kick trees?"
Don't laugh, he was serious! I had just finished assisting Master K in teaching a Muay Thai class at Radford University's "Karate College '94", and this boy had been in the class. As Master K and I were hanging around outside, he approached us with his question. To many of you, this is a silly question, but to others this part of Muay Thai mythology is real.
As is the case with most myths, the belief that Thai Boxers train by kicking trees is based on fact. Thai boxers are known for their rigourous physical conditioning, and in particular, their extremely hard shins.
But contrary to what many believe, this is acheved through the use of very modern equipment.
Thai boxers use the finest boxing gear found in the world designed specifically for the rigorous use of Muay Thai. As they condition their bodies with pad drills, sparring, or exercise, they toughen their shins on the heavy bag. Most Thai boxers begin training between the ages of 8 and 12, then being competing professionally between the ages of 16 and 22. After 8 years of kicking the heavy bag every day, their shins are like iron! However, Thai boxers have not always had access to equipemnt such as heavy bags, hence, the banana tree.
A banana tree is not hardwood like most trees found in the USA. Banana trees have a softer, more plant-like trunk which will give a little when kicked. Additionally, beginning Thai boxers would not start off by kicking a tree with full force, rather they would start kicking slowly without much power until the shins would eventually toughen to withstand the punishment. Trees are sometimes still used today for training. Thai boxers kick them with minimal power in order to improve speed and accuracy.
Though, in all honesty, there are those who are capable of kicking trees without any real harm to themselves (I have actually met quite a few of them), this is largely an old practice rendered obsolete by the use of modern boxing equipment. So in conclusion, please... DON'T TRY THIS AT HOME!
Well, that was it. One of my first articles written in one of my first newsletter. Unfortunately, I cannot reprint the photo from the article that shows one of my training partners kicking a tree. Maybe some other time...
»More Muay Thai's elbow strikes
So, moving right along, I will start to discuss a few other elbow strikes in Muay Thai.
AXE or SPIKE ELBOW STRIKE: This strike is the basic overhand elbow strike. Raise your hand straight above your hand and SPIKE the elbow down onto your target. (Usually your opponents head of collar bone) As you drop the elbow, also drop your weight with it by bending your knees to get your body weight into the blow. Remember to keep your back straight! DO NOT LEAN OVER INTO THE STRIKE! Additionally, when striking, keep the elbow close to your body. Do not attempt to extend outwards with the elbow.
As an example, in Dan Severn's first UFC appearance, he faced a Thai boxer. When Dan Severn shot in and grabbed the Thai boxers legs, he attempted an axe elbow strike. Granted, I believe the Thai boxer would have lost anyway at that point, but he executed the technique incorrectly by dropping the elbow onto Dan's shoulder blade. Had he kept the elbow strike in close to his body, he could potentially have hit the head and stunned Severn. Most likely not, but you never know...
So, when you practice/execute this elbow strike, you should strike downwards with the elbow as close to your body as possible. Imagine somone who had his arms wrapped around your waist with his head tucked into you. You should try to strike with your elbow so that it hits the opponent in between your body and his head and pries between the two of you. You can create a wicked cut this way. Or, you can bring the elbow right down on his grape.
BACKWARDS ELBOW STRIKE: This is an elbow strike that most people are probably familiar with in their own martial arts studies. If the opponent gets behind you (for instance, your round kick missed and the opponent steps in) you strike backwards with the elbow. You can aim into the opponents rib cage, solar plexus, or aim it upwards under his chin.
An unorthodox variation of this technique that my instructor, Master K, used to use with success is to turn slightly more sideways than the normal boxing stance and strike with the lead elbow in this manner, as though he were striking an opponent behind him. The elbow is aimed right under the opponents chin. It is a very tricky manuever, but has its inherent risks, as you are leaving your lead guard down. The shoulder to the chin only offers so much protection.
SPINNING ELBOW STRIKE: Probably one of the most exciting techniques in Muay Thai, a real crowd pleaser! In Thailand, boxers who score a knockout with this technique recieve a bonus with their fight purse. The footwork is similar to the throwing of many spin techniques, just make sure that you do not cross your legs when performing this, keep a good boxing stance. As you spin, you should be stepping into the opponent because again, you want to be at very close range when executing an elbow strike. The elbow is thrown overhead, so that it chops down into the opponents face or onto their head, NOT sideways like a backfist!
The most opportune time to use this elbow is either right after you have missed a round kick, or when you have blocked a high roundhouse kick from your opponent, you can spin in on him while his leg is still up. (actually, trap his leg and spin in at the same time for the best effect)
There is another subtle way to use the spin elbow. A Thai boxer I used to watch was a master of this one. I believe the boxers name was Buelong (yes, from Thailand). He would slip his opponents straight punch and throw the spinning elbow in mid-slip so that his elbow would come straight in from his rear side.
This is a hard variation to put into words, but as you slip the straight punch, you throw a spinning elbow from the same side that you slipped to. If your opponent throws a right cross, you slip to your left. As you slip, you roll your body so that your left elbow comes over the top of your back straight into his jaw. Your feet rotate, but you do not need to step. Try this technique SLOWLY with a partner to see how it works. I guarentee that you will like this one.
Well, as always, please let me know what you think. If there are any questions, just post them and I will try to answer them to the best of my ability
Khun Kao Charuad
SuriyaSak Muay Thai at USDC
»Muay Thai's forgetten elbow strikes
Perhaps not forgotten, but neglected. Over the last week or so, I have discussed most of the basic elbow strikes and a couple variations. However, this next elbow strike is one that I have never been shown, never read about, nor seen used, outside of our gym. In my years of experience, Master K is the only Thai boxing instructor I have met that uses/teaches this technique. (To clarify, I have trained with two other Thai coaches besides Master K, and have worked out with NUMEROUS boxers from other gyms from all across the world.)
It is actually a series of strikes, each one is the counterpart for one of the basic elbow strikes we have already discussed. These strikes are the RETURN ELBOW STRIKES.
***The basic elbow strikes in Muay Thai are the HORIZONTAL, DIAGONAL/VERTICAL, UPPERCUT, and AXE elbow strikes. Only the AXE ELBOW has not return strike, as it IS a return strike (see below).***
In each case, after you have thrown a basic elbow strike, most people/boxers simply return to their basic position, or follow with another basic strike. In our gym, we have a "philosophy" that after you have thrown the elbow in one direction, hit with the elbow again as you bring it back to basic guard position. After all, you have to bring your arm back anyway, so why waste an opportunity?
Simply strike with the flush part of your elbow as you bring it back into position. Remember, you have to follow through on the strike. Example: The HORIZONTAL ELBOW STRIKE. When you bring the elbow back, you should bring it back as though you are trying to throw a wide sweeping elbow to hit someone behind you. Very similar to slapping someone with a lot of follow through, or even throwing a frisbee. Make sure your entire body pivots with the strike, just as the other basic strikes.
The elbows strikes that have return strikes are the HORIZONTAL ELBOW, the DIAGONAL/VERTICAL ELBOW, and the UPPERCUT ELBOW. In the case of the DIAGONAL ELBOW, you can use the BACKWARDS ELBOW STRIKE as the return strike, or you can bring the elbow back overhead to strike downwards between your opponents guard as you bring the arm back to its basic position.
With the UPPERCUT ELBOW, merely bring it back to position using the AXE ELBOW STRIKE.
By practicing a return strike with each of your basic elbows, you can make sure that you don't miss an opportunity to strike your opponent.
I've mentioned by instructor often, but to clarify the importance of the RETURN ELBOW STRIKE, let me tell you a bit about his fight experience:
Master K fought in and around Bangkok in the 60's. He had over 75 fights. He unfortunately does not remember the exact record, but he lost less than 10 of those matches. Most of his fights were won by KO, and most of his KO's came by way of an elbow strike. The majority of his elbow KO's were with the RETURN ELBOW STRIKE. He remembers that his opponents were typically caught off guard by this strike, as no one seemed to have been trained with it, therefore no one expected it.
This ends my postings on the different elbow strikes. I hope everyone enjoyed them. If anyone has any questions, or would like clarification on any of the techniques I've mentioned (elbows or otherwise) please don't hesitate to post a question. I'll answer as soon as I can.
»Targets for elbow strikes
As promised, I'll try to keep this short and to the point.
Most elbows are aimed at your opponents head, of course. Specifically, you should target the opponents scalp, forehead, and eyebrows area. The reason is this. These areas of the skull are protected by a thin layer of skin and muscle over solid bone. An elbow hitting on this surface will break or cut the skin open. As we all are aware, scalp/head wounds bleed extremely badly. The idea is to cut your opponent so that the blood flows into his or her eyes, blinding them. If they can't see, they can't fight. Nuff said...
Another target of course is the jaw. Obviously, the intent is a KO. When using elbow strikes, use your basic strike (horizontal, diagonal, or uppercut) to make you opponent bleed, bring the return elbow strike with intent to knock them out.
In the case of the UPPERCUT elbow and BACKWARDS elbow strikes, you should aim for just under your opponents jaw.
The SPINNING ELBOW STRIKE should be aimed right at the forehead area.
Another variation is to use the AXE ELBOW while clinched with your opponent to strike his or her hipbone. This is obviously very painful for the opponent.
The elbow strikes can also be used to strike the opponents chest to knock the wind out of them.
Though it is considered "dirty pool", when you scoop catch an opponents round kick, you can then SPIKE the elbow into their leg. Though I don't remember the actual Thai name for it, it translates to "Breaking the Elephants Tusk".
As a final note, those of us with boxing experience know that you can use the elbows to block rather than your arms and hands.
»Countering the Clinch Knee
In the post re: Using the Low Roundhouse Kick, HEADRUSH asked about counters to the knee while clinching. Nak Muay posted a few suggestions. One I feel is very correct, though inaccurately described (I'll get to that), the second I REFUSE to teach. I'll explain, and then you decide.
The first method Nak Muay referred to: SIDESTEPPING, is a very good technique, though the way he mentioned/named it is misleading. When you are in a clinch, you aren't going to be sidestepping a technique. Your opponent HAS HOLD OF YOU! You aren't going anywhere! However, I know what he was referring to. What was really meant is a combination of manipulating your opponent while utilizing footwork to throw him off balance, thereby nullifying the knee attack.
When in the clinch, you and your opponent are fighting for control of each others head. Ideally, you want to have your opponents head in a pincher grip, with your forearms on his collarbone, and your heads behind the back/top portion of his head. Using your forearms as a fulcrum, you pull his head down into your chest, bending him over in front of you. From this position, you are able to throw straight knees at will into his abdomen, chest, and face.
However, one of the first things any Thai boxing instructor who's worth studying under will teach you is how NOT to get caught like that, and if you DO get caught, how to get out of it. Most serious injuries in Muay Thai that I have witnessed are due to a fighter insufficiently dealing with being at the business end of the clinch. Believe me, a knee to the face is quite ugly to witness. (Stop the fight, bring in a mop. You get the idea...)
Now, since most fighters are well enough versed in the clinch to NOT get bent over in front of you, you therefore have to knee while fighting for the advantage. When you find yourself with sufficient balance and enough room to snap one in there, you do it.
When you are holding onto an opponent in the clinching manner, you don't have to see what they are doing. You can actually feel it. When you feel your opponent shift their weight to knee, you twist their upper body by pulling with one hand, pushing with the other. While doing this, you are sidestepping.
To clarify this technique, let's say while you are clinched, the opponent is trying to knee you with his right knee. You should pull downwards and to the side on his neck with your right hand, while pushing him up and forwards with your left. You are essentially trying to turn him like a steering wheel. As you turn him, step at an angle backwards (the "sidestep" previously mentioned) with your right foot. As you twist your opponent around 180 degrees, your right foot becomes the lead foot, and the left foot becomes the rear foot. Since your opponent is being pulled over to his left and off balance, his right ribs are exposed to your left knee. You know what to do. The other technique that Nak Muay mentioned is to scoop the leg. I don't teach this method for a few reasons:
#1-it leaves your scooping arm tied up with his weight on it. Both of his hand are free to punch, elbow, whatever.
#2-it is no longer legal in Muay Thai (in Thailand, therefore everywhere) to scoop/trap an opponents leg and perform an offensive technique.
#3-to scoop an opponents leg in this fashion, you are taking a big risk of eating the knee in the process.
This is a legitimate technique if you are studying for NHB or self defense. But it is not for Muay Thai competition (and that's all I teach, with the exception of occassional cross training for NHB fighters. But then, they don't need me to teach them that takedown, they already know it.)
Let's get back to basics however. I wanted to comment on those two methods of defense first, since they were previously mentioned, but now I want to backtrack.
First, when clinching with someone and preparing for the knee, keep in mind that your opponent will be trying to knee you also. You should therefore keep your hips GLUED to your opponent. The best defense against knees is to be too close for your opponent to knee. Remember to keep your stance wide to keep your balance.
Another thing to keep in mind is that normally when boxing, Thai boxing, or whatever, you should keep your chin down to your chest to prevent KO's. However, while clinched, if you keep your head bowed down, you are doing half of your opponents work for him. So in this case, keep your chin up. Practice keeping the shoulders up high and almost arching the back of the neck so that your opponent cannot pull your head down.
If you are in a clinch with someone that has superior clinch skills to yours, then you can wrap a leg around him to make sure he cannot create the room to knee you. While doing this, kick him with your heel in the back of his legs to frog them. (yes, this is a legal technique!)
You can also wrap one arm around the back of his head so that the back of his head is in the crook of your arm. The opposite arm grabs in the crook of his arm and pulls down. Turn sideways and raise your lead side knee into his body sideways, so that your instep is extended on one side of his hips, the knee on the other (the shinbone should be parallel to the ground). Push forward with your knee into his hips while pulling on his head and arm with your upper body. You will get him "stretched out" and unable to do anything.
From this position, you can either release and get back to the clinch so that you have an advantage, or wait for the referee to break the two of you up.
Another escape from the clinch that I teach is to do a double hand push on your opponents hips while ducking out. THIS TECHNIQUE IS VERY RISKY, AND SHOULD ONLY BE USED AS A LAST RESORT!!! Many people make the mistake of simply trying to duck under the persons clinch to get out. However, this is the cause of the really ugly injuries that I mentioned before. If you find yourself forced to escape this way, push HARD on both of your opponents hips while doing your best to keep your head safely tucked between them. The injuries that I have seen are b/c fighters have tried to just duck out of a clinch without the double handed push.
Well, that'll be all for this post. As always, comments, questions, criticisms are welcome.
» Clinching Basics
You've asked, so here it is.
First, let me reiterate, clinching techniques are hard to adequately explain without visual aids, so I will not be going into detail, as I don't want people to get lost.
For those with grappling experience, you will find this similar to "swimming". That is where you practice getting a control position by "swimming" one arm in at a time under your opponents arms to get the underneath control position for a throw or the like.
In Thai, the phrase or name used to describe clinching is translated as "Getting Dressed" (think of it as "preparing to knee")
The difference is, rather than gaining the control position under the arms for a throw, you are trying to gain the inside position on your opponent's head/neck area.
There are variations on the control position, I'll discuss the most basic one that I teach. The position you want is to have both of your hands/arms to the inside, grasping your opponents head/neck in a pincher-like grip, and his head trapped to your chest. You can also rest your chin on the top of his head to KEEP his head down.
When clinching, the hand position should be on the back/top portion of your opponents head, not the back of his neck. Keep the elbows locked in TIGHT to pinch the carotid arteries, and to prevent your opponent from snaking his hands back in to gain the inside position on you. (the pincher grip on the carotids is not enough to make someone pass out, but it is enough to make them feel a little faint or light-headed, and any advantage is a good advantage)
The hands themselves can be held in two recommended ways. You can either cross them at the wrist (both palms towards you), or you can cross them with the palms towards each other. Remember, do not interlace your fingers! You will have boxing gloves on!
With your arms in the correct position, your elbows should be pressing into your opponents collar bone. Use this to your advantage, as a fulcrum to pull their head down into your chest.
When you begin to clinch with someone, you should try to "gain the high ground." Try to get over top of your opponent first so that you have the high position. This way you can rest your weight on your opponent, forcing them to work harder. I teach my students to use their lead hand to reach high and deep to get the upper position, and their rear hand to deflect the opponents hands so that they cannot get a good grip on you.
I also teach my students to grab with the lead hand and apply the clinch with just that hand. To do this, after you grab behind the opponents neck/head, you push the elbow across to the center of their chest and use the upper arm as a wedge between you and him. This leaves one hand free to punch, elbow, or deal with whatever he's trying to do with his hands. You can use the lead hand clinch to throw your opponent off balance, and then knee as he's vulnerable.
While "getting dressed" it is recommended to actually keep your chin up! Any other time, you would keep your chin down, but while clinching, if you have your head tucked, it's easier for your opponent to trap your head.
When clinching, get up on your tippy toes to help get you over top your opponent so you can get the upper position. Once you achieve the upper position, rest your weight on them. Make him hold you up!
While "getting dressed", only "swim" one arm in at a time. Never "swim" both hands in at once. This would leave you with both hands off of the opponent, and allowing them to have the inside and get your head down.
Also, while "getting dressed", keep your hips glued as tightly to your opponents hips as possible!!! Do not leave room for a knee to get in. When you "feel" that you are in position to knee, break your hips to the back and fire one (or more) in there, then get your hips back against his!
MOVE AROUND!!! Do not stand in place and clinch, rather, CONSTANTLY be on the move! Use your arms to toss your opponent around. Push on your opponents shoulders/arms while pulling on his neck to throw him off balance, leaving him open for your knee strikes. Try to throw the opponent to the ground if you can! (and KICK him as he falls!)
If you are having trouble with getting the upper control position on your opponent, grab around his body and hug him close. From this position, you can break your hips to the back and throw clinching curve knees. (a technique I've not discussed yet. Maybe later...)
If your opponent has grabbed you around the body and pulled you too tight to break your hips back to knee, grab each of his arms in a guillotine-like hold, trapping them, then push forward hard with your shoulders (dig your chin into his face, neck, collar bone) and push your hips back hard also, then attack his legs and hips with clinching curve knees.
If your arms are trapped in this manner, push forward with one, pull back with the other HARD. Once you have one arm free, grab him by the neck and start pulling down and try to get in your own knee strikes.
The above info is by no means complete. There are many, many intricacies to Muay Thai's clinching, and above are just some of the basics to give people the right idea. I hope that the above info is helpful. Feel free, as always, to contact me with any questions you may have. I'll try to answer as best as I can.
» Clinching Basics CLARIFICATION!!!
"Getting Dressed" is the action of your and your opponent "swimming" or snaking your arms inside for the control position. The second your feel your opponent move an arm to the inside, you should move your arm to regain the inside.
Do not wait until you have the control position to throw a knee. When you feel your balance is right and there is an opening, STRIKE!
As you close in for the clinch, get in a straight knee strike on the way in! This may be the most important knee strike of the clinch exchange. It is doubtful that once you get to the inside fighting that you will always be successful at gaining the control position to fire off the devastating clinching straight knees.
Again, please post any questions or further clarifications needed...
One of our favorite drills is called 10-20-10's. Full speed and full power. Partner holds Thai Pads and you kick 10 Rdhouse on one side, then 20 Clinching Straight Knees, then another 10 Rdhouse on the other side.
We also used to have a competition to see who could do the most rdkicks or straight knees in one round. The catch is that it's during shadowboxing. No target! We haven't used that drill in awhile.
The Elbow Train is just doing Horizontal or Vertical Elbow strikes on the focus mitts as fast as you can (alternate sides each strike). If you do it fast enough, it starts to sound like like a train chugging along...
Neck Wrestling is a big drill. You "get dressed" (English-Thai translation of Clinching) with your opponent, each of you trying to gain the "control" position, with your opponents head trapped to your chest and they are bent over. If you get caught, you have to perform an escape.
Fun with the Medicine Ball: I like to have my students play Harlem Globetrotters with it. They pass the ball around for a few rounds like they are playing basketball. OR, I have them stand close and actually thrust the ball into each others stomachs or ribs. OR BETTER YET (I love this drill...) With a partner. Both put on bag/sparring gloves. One holds the med. ball while the other uses it as a punching bag. The holder is responsible for changing the target area around. The puncher just must punch full power constantly. You do this drill for about 3 rds. alternating punching/holding every round. If one student drops the ball, they do 20 push ups per drop. So the puncher should be trying to punch the ball out of the holders hands. (I actually learned that drill at the boxing gym)
Another personal fav: Progressive combo's. The idea is to work a combo from it's first strike and build it into at least 6 seperate strikes, preferrably 8 or more. Start with one strike. Repeat 10X. Then add another strike. Repeat 10X, add another, repeat 10X, etc. For example: 10 jabs, 10 double jabs, 10 dbl jabs and a cross, 10 jab- jab-cross-hook-bob n'weave, 10 jab-jab-cross-hook-bob n'weave-cross, etc, etc, etc. (don't forget to add kicks, knees, elbows, etc. I just used boxing as an example)
Those are some of the more creative ones. Most of the drills are pretty standard. Kick or punch the pads, shadow boxing, pushups, situps, skip rope, etc.
»More training drills
Well, I just lost the entire post that I was trying to write on this, so I'll try again.
I thought that we should make a seperate post on training methods of Muay Thai. A lot of them have been discussed to some extent in my previous posts. But for fun, I will try to go over all the ones that our gym uses, and also mention some that I have run into from other Thai boxers/Western Boxers that I think apply.
I know there are a number of you out there with some Muay Thai experience, so just chime in with your own experience. Remember, each gym has its own way of doing things, its own drills, its own variations of techniques, so we are bound to run into some discrepancies along the way...
To start off with, I feel that three things go into making a complete fighter. Technique, Physical Fitness, and Heart. Your instructor/coach can only help you with the first two. We have already discusses alot of technique, so moving right along...
Physical Fitness and Stamina:
Anyone who fights competitively, or competes at sports in general can tell you that being physically fit can make or break you. Besides learning and practicing the techniques of your MA, you have to train to be able to do them, and keep doing them, even if you are tired, exhausted, hurt, etc.
#1-RUN. To tell the truth, there is no exercise I hate more than running. But, I can also honestly say that there is no exercise that takes its place (and believe me, I've tried MANY). If you want to be able to fight, you have to run, run, run. You should have a mix between jogging for distance and wind sprints.
#2-SEE #1! Yes! Running is THAT important!
Besides running, there are a # of drills that we incorporate into our training to help build strength and stamina.
DUCKWALKING or SQUATS: How do you think that Thai boxers are able to withstand those leg kicks?
FOOTWORK DRILLS: A circle drill that I incorporate from the boxing gym. The students get in a circle as though they are in the ring (we don't have a ring at either of our gyms) and they skip sideways as though they are dancing around their opponent. The students are to stay on their toes! When the coach (me!) says "SWITCH" they change directions and go the other way. This should get them used to always circling around their opponents, and how to change directions quickly. (there's more to the drill than just that, but I don't feel like getting into it right now, sorry)
JUMP ROPE: helps with stamina, and teaches boxers to be light on their feet. (if they do it right)
PUSHUPS and SITUPS: This is a no brainer...
MEDICINE BALL: has a myriad of uses. Strength, coordination, and impact drills. We can do a seperate posting on this...
NECK ROLLS: This is very similar to the wrestling exercise. Do a three point stance with your feet on the ground and your head too. Arms behind your back. Slowly roll your neck around to work the neck muscles. For god's sake though, be careful on this one until you are used to it...
WEIGHTS: There are a # of very specific weight drills for punching power. Most of them concentrate on the shoulders and triceps. One drill is to take a non-weighted bar with both hands and pump it in and out from your chest (straight out while standing) as fast as you can for one round.
Ok, it's late and I'm starting to lose track of my thoughts. I'll get back to this later. I'll start covering more technique drills too.
Once upon a time, about a month ago (I forget which post) there was a discussion re: footwork in Muay Thai. It was actually a tangent thread in another post, I forget the details.
Anyway, my point is that we were discussing the fact that Thai boxers often don't employ a whole heck of a lot of footwork. I explained why, but also pointed out that I teach my students to use footwork. I actually drill them on footwork/circling their opponent on a regular basis.
For those of you who are not aware, I teach Muay Thai at Lloyd Irvin's Martial Arts Academy in Camp Springs, MD. The school teaches BJJ/Sambo/Judo, as well as Aerobics, Kickboxing, and Muay Thai. Many of my students cross train in the other classes.
In tonite's class, Bret, one of my regular students (though a beginner) related his experience in one of our Vale Tudo classes.
Though he is neither an experienced Thai boxer nor an experienced grappler (well, he's a more experienced grappler than I am), he was really taking advantage of his fellow grapplers during Vale Tudo training due to the footwork drills that I teach in class.
He was able to continually circle his opponent, taking advantage of the openings being given to him. EXAMPLE: He would circle, occassionally switching direction. When his opponent would adjust his stance, he was able to step in with a punching combo while their feet were together. The Vale Tudo guys were apparantly not switching their stances smoothly, and I pound into my students heads the correct way to switch directions without leaving yourself vunerable by having your feet planted or too close together.
Bret would just watch for their footwork mistakes and capitalize on them.
Sorry, I had to brag about my student to everyone.
»Wai Kru/Ram Muay
I thought I'd take a break from writing tutorials on boxing techniques and actually just talk about Muay Thai as a sport.
First, I want to discuss the pre-fight ceremony performed by Thai boxers when they enter the ring.
When two Thai boxers enter a ring to fight, they first enter by going over the top rope. This ties into the Thai culture that a person's head is viewed as "holy ground" so to speak. The head is the most sacred part of the anatomy. By entering the ring over the top rope, you are not allowing anything to pass over your head.
Second, upon entering the ring, both boxers, beginning in their own corner, circle the ring with a hand placed on the top rope. This act is called "sealing the ring". This symbolically tells your opponent that no one else is present (crowd, coaches, trainers, judges...) and that it is now just between the two of you.
Third, the Wai Kru. The boxer, in the center of the ring, kneels facing the direction of his hometown or home gym, and bows three times. The first bow is to pay respect to your coach, gym, fellow boxers, and to Muay Thai as a sport. Bow number two pays respect to your parents, family, and your ancestors. Bow number three is to pay homage to whatever your religious or spiritual beliefs are.
Finally, the Ram Muay. The Ram Muay is a dance-like ritual during which the boxers go through motions which imitate various animals, or professions. Using the SuriyaSak Ram Muay as an example. We begin by imitating a swallow (bird, duh!), then imitate a soldier with a spear. Next we imitate a soldier with a bow, then finally, an executioner.
Most of the symbolism behind the various moves is lost. (if anyone knows of it, please chime in) However, there is a practicality behind how it developed and how it is still used today.
Originally, there was no Ram Muay. Before opponents would fight, they would warm up by stretching, doing some light shadowboxing, and testing the ground all over the determined fighting area.
This eventually evolved into a routine that was taught to the boxers to perform before each fight. Each gym developed its own unique Ram Muay. This served as an identifier, letting your opponent know from what gym, or camp, you came from. The various moves are performed so that they imitate many of the basic positions within the fight, and are stretching the major muscle groups. This also gives the boxers and extra minute or so to collect themselves so that they may focus on the fight at hand.
In olden days, many fights would be called off after the performance of the
Ram Muay. For instance, it is Thai tradition that members of the same gym do not compete against one another. This is one of the reasons why I no longer fight. Back when I was fighting, the situation arose that there was no one in our region, or neighboring regions in my weight class. The only other people in my weight class with sufficient fighting experience to step into the ring with me were from my own gym. Therefore, the only fights I was able to get were in the higher weight classes. My last Muay Thai match had me fighting someone who was a Cruiserweight (196 lbs) when I was a Super Middleweight (161 lbs). Granted, I should have not agreed to that fight, but it was the only fight available.
Also, many fights would be called off by one boxer when he saw how his opponent performed the Ram Muay. For one, if he saw that his opponent was very graceful with good balance, and performed with confidence, he would often realize that he was in over his head, and back out of the match.
Also, he might recognize the Ram Muay as a gym that had especially good, skilled fighters, and back out for that reason.
From my personal experience, I fought 9 times. Only once did I fight an opponent who performed a Ram Muay also. This was in 1994 in Niagara Falls, NY. USA vs. Cananda. Many of the ref's and judges were from Thailand for this event. I found out about this later, but one of the Thai judges predicted after seeing both of our Ram Muay's that I would win by KO. I proceeded to KO my opponent in 43 sec's of the first round!
My point was not to toot my own horn, but to show that the Ram Muay is still used today as a measure of one's ring ability.
Hope you all enjoyed this post. I will post a few more along this line. As always, questions, comments are appreciated. Remember, you can e-mail me at: email@example.com.
I have a theory, so to speak, on combinations that I use when teaching my students to put techniques together.
I believe that as in instructor, I should only teach very basic combinations. Two to three strikes each. Rarely, I'll teach a four technique combination (and the two that I do teach are both boxing combo's, not Muay Thai).
Instead, I try to teach my students to follow up each technique with something. Actually, I try to teach them to follow up each technique with a few somethings.
Let's use boxing as an example. After I throw a left hook, there are a couple of very specific actions I will take, depending on the situation. My two most common follow ups are:
1- Bob and Weave out to the left
2- Right Cross
To continue on the same line of thought, I will follow each of those techniques up with some very specific actions. For example, if I were to Bob and Weave to the left, I would probably do one of the following:
1- Left Hook to the body
2- Clinch (as I straighten myself back up) and Straight Knee ot the body
OR, if I threw the Right Cross, I would most likely follow with:
1- another Left Hook
2- Right-legged Roundhouse Kick to the body
3- Clinching Straight Knee to the body
As you can see, each technique I perform has a follow up, and each follow up technique has a follow up, and so on. This is how techniques get strung together into combinations.
So, in essence, I will teach my students simple combinations, such as Jab-Cross-Roundhouse Kick, or Jab-Cross-Clinching Straight Knee, and then let them build upon the technique to make their own "advanced combinations".
Moving right along, we can now discuss Basic Combinations.
As a note, my students are all (with maybe 3 exceptions) beginners. The two basic combo's that I drill them on CONSTANTLY are the ones that I have already mentioned above:
1. Jab-Cross-Roundhouse Kick
2. Jab-Cross-Clinching Straight Knee
#1- The Jab-Cross-Roundhouse Kick is especially what I (and most people I have trained with) consider to be the "bread and butter" combination of Muay Thai. In truth, it is the "bread and butter" combo of all the striking arts (except Western Boxing) that I have studied.
I have discussed this combo before in another post, but I'll try to rehash it here. I teach this combo two ways. Continuous Rhythm and Broken Rhythm.
For the Continuous Rhythm, the three techniques are thrown rapidly is succession with no pause. Also, the roundhouse kick is thrown from the rear side (the same side you threw the cross from) If you were to practice this using Muay Thai technique, you will notice that throwing a strong right cross makes your roundhouse kick weak. To compensate, we teach that the cross is thrown as a feint so that the Roundhouse Kick can be thrown with full power. The "cross" is thrown directly into your opponents face AND LEFT THERE! Keep the hand in his eyes so that they cannot see the kick. With the opponents vision obscured, you can then choose which target seems most open. Thigh, hip, ribs, or even the head. When first starting to practice this technique, keep the kicks waist and below until you get the timing. You can then start practicing higher kicks.
For the Broken Rhythm Combo, the Jab and the Cross are both thrown with full power, then you come back to position, usually shuffling back a step into optimal kicking range. From here, you can throw a Roundhouse Kick with either leg, depending on your opponents reaction to your punching combo. Again, practice it with a low kick at first, then when comfortable, try kicking higher targets.
#2- Jab-Cross-Clinching Straight Knee. This combo is pretty self explanatory, I think. Important note however! A common thing I have noticed is that most people studying Muay Thai are so conditioned to clinch an opponent by the neck, that they never take advantage of another clinching option. CLINCH THE OPPONENTS GUARD! Instead of always trying to "swim" through his guard to get hold of his neck (and taking an elbow strike on the way in) grab his arms so that you "hook" them where the elbow is bent and pull him across your knee. Try this, you will be amazed at how effective it is.
If you succeed in clinching with your opponents guard and delivering a straight knee, you can then move in closer and clinch the neck.
These are two very simple, yet very effective combo's. Another simple combo is:
Push Kick-Roundhouse Kick: In this case, you are simply using the Push Kick as a guaging tool, so to speak. You use the Push Kick to kick your opponent right into your roundhouse kick range.
Roundhouse Kick-(Skip back)-Push Kick: This one is a little more specialized, but not too hard. You execute a roundhouse kick first, skip backwards to create the room you need, then skip back in with a Push Kick as your opponent tries to follow you.
In practice, you should try to make it a three beat rhythm, meaning the Kick is one, skipping back with both feet is two, and the push kick is three. Your feet should only touch the floor on those beats. To explain further, after landing the roundkick, you should SKIP back with one hop. Do not shuffle your feet going back b/c you need to be QUICK (your opponent will be stepping into you!). When you hop back, you should make sure you hop back enough to allow you the room to push kick an approaching target. After hopping back, you hop back in and Push Kick at the same time.
DO NOT SHUFFLE IN AS YOU PUSH KICK! Many people, when they push kick, step forward with their rear leg, then push kick. NO NO NO! That kills your forward momentum. The push kick should be practiced so that when executed, you are getting double impact! In other words, the push kick is mostly used to stop an encroaching opponent. Double the impact by hopping into him at the same time as the kick. To get the double impact, hop in and
kick AT THE SAME TIME!
Another simple yet deadly favorite:
Clinching Straight Knee (with opponent's guard, not neck)-Diagonal Elbow Strike.
I remember like yesterday the first time I saw this in a fight. We had a tape from Thailand showing the latest fights at Bangkok's two major stadiums (Lumphini and Radjadamnern) and I saw a fighter win in the first round with this combo. He came up with the straight knee, and while his one leg was still up, he same-side elbowed and dropped his leg to the ground at the same time, getting gravity to work with him. His opponent never saw it coming (he was defending the knee) and was out cold on his feet.
Well, as I'm sure everyone can imagine, there are a myriad of simple combinations that you can put together. Then, if you practice following each individual technique with some action, your simple combo's will begin to lead into one another creating your own personal advanced combo's.
Hope you enjoyed this. Feel free to contact me with questions and comments by posting here, or e-mailing me at:KhunKao@mindspring.com
» More Combinatons
Well, as was mentioned to me, I realize that what I wrote on combo's before was not so much me discussing actual combo's as my own views on teaching them.
Today, I will post a list of 10 basic combo's.
#1- Jab-Cross-Lead Horizontal Elbow
#2- Jab-Cross-Roundhouse Kick (The kick can be performed with either leg)
#3- Jab-Cross-Clinching Straight Knee (either Knee)
#4- Roundhouse Kick-Straight Punch (though I prefer a Lead side kick and a Cross, you can throw either kick with either punch. You can also substitute a hook from either side)
#5- Clinching Straight Knee-Hook (right after landing the knee, release you grip on your opponents head and immediately hook when your kneeing foot sets back to the floor. This should catch him before he gets his guard back up)
#6- Clinching Straight Knee-(push opponent away)-Round Kick (the idea here is to push your opponent away into kicking range, and while he's trying to regain his stance and guard up, you can kick him in the head or wherever is open)
#7- Push Kick-Round Kick (like above, use the Push Kick to get your opponent at Round Kick range and unload!)
#8- Roundhouse Kick-Clinching Straight Knee (after landing the Round Kick, set foot down in front of you and step in, grab, and knee. Don't retract your leg after kicking)
#9- Roundhouse Kick-Elbow (essentially, use the same footwork as above, but strike with the elbow instead of the knee. OR! If your opponent moves out of the way of the Roundhouse Kick, allow your leg to partially spin you around into a Spinning Elbow Strike. When you miss with a kick, your opponent will often try to step in on you, right into the Elbow Strike!!!)
#10- Roundhouse Kick-(skip back)-Push Kick (as mentioned before, make sure you skip back with both feet at the same time, then skip in at once with the push kick. DO NOT STUTTER STEP! This needs to be FAST! Try to make it happen in three steps, or beats. Round Kick, skip back, Push Kick. There should only be those three steps and none in between!)
Well, this list with my combo theory post should hopefully give everyone a wide range of basic Muay Thai combinations to train with. If anyone wants further explanation on any of the above or my combo "theory", please post or e-mail me at:
» Thai Pad Drills
There have been a number of inquiries lately regarding what type of Thai pads to get. For those of you who are interested in picking up your own, I recommend one of these following brands:
Some of these are Thai brands, and I am unsure of their availability in the states.
No matter what pads you get, try to find ones with velcro straps. They are so much more user friendly!
With all the interest in Thai pads, I thought it would be nice to devote a tutorial to some of the numerous Thai Pad Drills.
A few notes about using the pads first:
1-grasp the pads so that your palm is towards your opponent, not towards your face
2-When you are the pad holder, stand in your normal stance, facing your opponent. DO NOT STAND SIDEWAYS TO PRESENT THE TARGET! The Thai pads are designed so that the boxer can train realistically against a human opponent. Stand in your normal boxing stance, and then adjust to the attack as it is thrown. This way, the pad holder also gets experience reacting to attacks.
3-When holding for kicks, hold the pads parallel and rotate to face the kick as it is coming so that the kick can impact both pads flush.
4-When holding for knees, many people hold the pads parallel in front of them, as if they are crossing their arms. I prefer to have my students hold the pads in an "X" or crossed. It is a more stable way to hold them.
5-When holding the pads for ANY technique, you must create a SOLID target for your opponent to hit. Do not hold the pads lazily so that there is no impact. It will do nothing for your training partner, and besides, if you hold them weakly, the pads can be kicked into your own face. I have seen many black eyes, bloody noses and lips b/c people are not holding the pads correctly. When the strike comes, press the pads into the hit to create a solid impact.
6-A good Pad Holder will push their opponent to exhaustion. After a session of pad drills, the attacker should be ready to puke!
On to the drills...
For one, you can have the kicker alternate kicks for an entire round. Left-right-left-right... The kicker needs to keep up a good solid pace. Do not rest in between unless necessary! Don't be lazy! Most of the time, when holding pads for round kicks, you hold them at mid body level. Even if you use Thai-style kicks mainly to attack the legs, you will benefit from practicing them higher, as it requires you to work harder.
Multiple kicks on one side can be practiced also. The kicker should kick repeatedly from one side. In between kicks, the kicking foot should only lightly touch to the floor before kicking again. The kicker should stay leaned away to facilitate the multiple kicks.
Low kicks can be practiced by holding the Thai pad against your thigh. Dangle it over your thigh while standing in your normal boxing stance. Make sure to push away the top part of the pad into the kick to help absorb the kick. Do not hold it flush, or you will not be able to take more than 3 or 4 kicks. It is advised not to use buckled Thai pads for this drill as the buckles will gouge your flesh.
***use them essentially the same way you use focus mitts*** (that is all I will say on boxing/elbow drills)
As mentioned, I recommend crossing the pads in an "X" while holding for knee strikes for better, more solid impact.
Again, by round. Have the boxer practice free standing straight knees, or clinch knees. The boxer should do a skipping footwork to alternate knees. For instance, if I just kneed with my right, as my right foot drops to the floor, the left skips backwards to load up the left knee. Again, you can also drill multiple knees on the same side. Instead of dropping the knee to the front, bring it all the way back, continually loading for the next knee.
PUSH KICK DRILLS:
Thai pads are NOT conducive to Push Kick Drills. Either allow the attacker to push kick you, or invest in a belly protector. If you invest in a belly protector, stick to the above brands and try to find velcro straps.
The drills mentioned above are just very basic guidelines. Now let's get to the meat of it.
The pad holder has a great deal of responsibility to the person attacking, as the pad holder dictates the pace of the workout. You should push the attacker. If your attacker is slacking or lollygaggin, hit them with the pad, or throw a kick and demand that they get to work. Constantly push them and shout out directions for them. Also, constantly move around and change the range. Force the boxer to adjust and use footwork. DO NOT BE A STATIC TARGET!!!
For example, the drills already mentioned are only working one given technique at a time. Change directions and the range so that the boxer is forced to constantly adjust to get the technique right. If they are slacking, tell them to strike harder or faster. TAUNT THEM! Tell them that they are weak! Tell them that you expect to feel the pain in the morning!
Keeping in mind all of the above advice for the pad holder, let's move on to combination drills...
When directing combination drills, the pad holder should vary between having the attacker execute the techniques/combo's for power, or for speed. Do not change in the middle of the round. The round is either a power or speed round. In most cases, the pad holder dictates what combo's are to be used. When holding the pads for combo's, use your imagination. Try to add variety, but not too much that the boxer does not get a good dose of the basics.
If you have an attacker who is very good, you can just hold the targets for the boxer to hit, as the boxer should learn over time what strike you want based on what position you are holding the pads in.
With fighters, or fight hopefuls, a drill I like to do is to "suit up" wearing belly protector, shin pads, lacrosse elbow pads, thai pads, and headgear. (cup and mouthpiece, too) Again, I call the combo's for full power. With all the gear on, the attacker can perform low kicks, and I, as the holder can also attack if the attacker starts to slack. Typically, stick to jabs, push kicks, and round kicks at your attacker to make sure that they stay busy and sharp.
Finally, I will do some rounds where the fighter simply attacks in combo as he feels. It is my job to adjust to his attack. He can low kick, punch, clinch knee, elbow, whatever. Since I am completely covered in protective gear, I am minimizing the chance of an accident. This drill should be reserved for the most experienced students, who will be able to do this without injuring each other AND taking the drill seriously.
I realize that this post is long and rambles in a few places, but I hope that it is useful info for those of you who using Thai pads in your training.
» Training to Fight!
OK, so you've been going to your Muay Thai classes for 2 or 3 nights a week for the last 6 months. You understand all your basics pretty well, and are confident with your combinations and with your sparring. You decide to take this to the next level...
(insert "Darth Vader's Theme" music...)
The first thing is that a fighter should have a MINIMUM of 6 weeks notice (meaning 6 weeks of training) before any bout. Recently, I passed up on the opportunity for my students to enter a competition b/c there was only 4 weeks notice. Sorry, 6 weeks notice or we're not coming...
If you plan to fight, or are considering it, you must be ready to devote every day of your life for 6 full weeks to training. Well, actually six days each week.
First, from day 1 until a few days before the fight, you should run EVERY SINGLE DAY! Even on your one day off, you should run. For the first 2 weeks, you should be jogging for distance. Devote at least 40 min's each day to roadwork. After the first two weeks, then start alternating between jogging for distance and running wind sprints. When I used to run my sprints, I'd run approx 30-40 yds sprinting, then I would turn around and run back slowly to cool down, then turn around and sprint again. I would repeat this about 5 times my first time out, then gradually increase the repetitions until I was between 15-20. Lay off the sprints, and cut the distance on the jogging the last week, as you want your body to recuperate before you enter the ring.
Spend about 20 min's a day jumping rope.
For the first week or so, the workouts should steadily pick up pace. You should workout by rounds, and your workouts should be at the minimum of 2 hours. For the first two weeks, increase the rounds of shadowboxing, padwork, and heavybag work from your normal workout.
For example, my class presently works out like this:
(3 hour alotted time frame)
10 min's rope
stretching (takes about 5-10 minutes)
footwork and medicine ball drills (approx 2-5 rounds, varying)
3 rounds shadowboxing
10+ rounds of partner drills with Thai pads and Heavy bag work
30 minutes (approx.) of instruction in new techniques
(the last hour of class is reserved for students to work on what they feel they need extra practice on, and I "mingle")
We have one sparring class each week, on Saturdays...
Depending on the day, many of the drills are shortened, or dropped, based on the "group" need.
If I were to adjust this for fighters, it would be:
20 min's rope
footwork and medicine ball drills (3-5 rounds varying)
5 rounds shadowboxing
10+ rounds of Thai pad, heavy bag, speed bag, and double-end ball drills
20 minutes of neck wrestling
*sparring would take place at least twice a week*
Important note on sparring. It is of utmost importance that you train to prevent injury. Sparring should NOT be done full contact or full competition rules. Seperate sparring into elements such as boxing, kicking, or clinching. You can mix the three in different combinations of sparring as long as you maintain control of the fighters, making sure that they are striking lightly. Sparring partners should wear full protective gear: Headgear, mouthpiece, 16 oz. gloves, elbow pads (if available use lacrosse pads), chest protector, shinpads, and groin protection.
As training goes on, the first two weeks as mentioned are a build up to what I listed above, gradually increasing intensity so that from 3-5 weeks the fighter is training as hard as possible. The last week of training should really taper off to a few rounds shadowboxing, pad drills, NO SPARRING and light jogging.
The last 2-3 days of training should consist of really light jogging and a couple of rounds of shadowboxing. Nothing else. You must spend the last week letting the body recuperate, hence why the big drop off in training. However, you must "keep the motor running", which is why you at least do something each day.
REMEMBER: running, weight training, and such are the fighters responsibility to do outside of class time. I do not recommend cross training with another martial art while training to fight. I personally cross trained by Mountain Biking when I was fighting.
By contrast, when Thais train to fight, they do all of the above TWICE a day. The get up in the AM to run as a group then train. They gather again and do it all over again in the evening.
» "Dirty" Tricks
Thai boxers are known for being extremely respectful outside of the ring. You will never see a Thai boxer bad-mouthing his opponent(s) like you see in the Western Boxing world. Thai's believe in doing all their "talking" in the ring, letting their fighting speak for them.
Below, I've listed a number of techniques that are considered "dirty pool", but are still ring legal.
#1- When a mid-body level kick comes, you can trap and spike it with your elbow. In Thai, this is "breaking the elephants tusks".
#2- When clinching your opponent, get your glove into his face and cover his nose and mouth so that he has difficulty breathing.
#3- Also, while clinching, use your chin to dig into your opponents face, especially the eyes. Thai boxers like to enter the ring with a few days razor stubble for two reasons. One, the stubble helps punches, elbows, etc slip off the face, and two, to dig it into their opponents face.
#4- Again, during the clinch (notice a trend?), when fighting for control of an opponents neck/head, or defending from having your head pulled down, you can reach across his face and jam your elbow into it. Use your elbow/arm as a stiff barrier, keeping it in his face. Dig it into his nose or eyes or mouth...
#5- Again, while clinched, you can wrap your leg around your opponent and heel kick him in the back of the leg or buttocks.
#6- Throw a haymaker-like punch, but hit him with the bony part of the wrist rather than the fist. This is a good knockout technique b/c the wrist/forearm area is not protected with boxing gloves.
#7- Like boxing, it is illegal to hit an opponent who is down. However, if the opponent has not hit the floor yet... I have seen many fights ended when an opponent gets that extra kick or even a knee in before their opponent hits the floor after they have thrown or dumped them.
#8- Push Kicking opponent in the face. This is the most insulting thing you can do in the ring. You would not make a Thai as angry if you said very explicitly derogatory remarks about his parents. In Thai culture (and many Asian cultures) the head is considered the most important part of the body (practically holy!), the feet the lowliest. To push kick them in the face is to say that you are beneath the dirt under my feet. When a Thai push kicks to someone's face, he does not strike with it, rather he brushes his opponents face with it, heightening the insult factor.
As you can see, Thai's like to play for keeps. However, they keep it in the ring. The above techniques are all legal in the ring, but considered to be "dirty pool". Most fighters refrain from using them, as they can expect like treatment if they do. As an interesting note along the same idea, this is why many, many Thai fighters rarely ever use elbows in the ring. There is sort of a "gentleman's agreement" amongst boxers that if you do not use elbows, neither will I. If you do, however, expect like in return.
Well, I hope that everyone enjoyed this article. As always, comment appreciated...
» Neck Wrestling Drill(s)
Hey, I've got a short post today. This is a drill that I started my class on last night that everyone REALLY liked!
For 3 rounds, with a partner.
When the round starts, you begin Clinching/Neck Wrestling with your partner. I had the interval timer set to go off every 15 sec's. When the interval timer sounded, the fighters were to break, step back, then jump right back in and Clinch/Neck Wrestle again.
Due to the size differences in my class, I had every one stay with the same partner for the entire 3 rounds. I think that in the future, I will have everyone switch partners between rounds.
While clinching, the boxers are to be trying to get the Control Position that I have mentioned previously, where you have your opponents head trapped in a pincher-like grip to your chest. You can place your chin on top of their head as an extra measure of control.
The boxers, should they get caught in the Control Position, perform and escape. Then they should get right back at it.
Remember, if you try this drill, as soon as the fighters separate, they should immediately get right back at it. No pausing. The fighters should train as though the break is from the Ref separating them, then telling them to fight again. They should jump right back into it...
» Medicine Ball Drills
This is not a very complete list, as the drills are endless. Heck, they have entire books and videos devoted to this. For those of you who just want a few effective, simple drills, this is for you...
#1- Everyone stands in a circle, close together. Hand the medicine ball around in a circle, changing directions occasionally. When you hand the ball around, do not simply "hand" it to the person next to you, but thrust it into their abdomen. Aim for the abs or obliques. The person being handed to should allow the ball to impact with their abdomen, then take the ball. DO NOT CATCH THE BALL BEFORE IT HITS YOU!
#2- Again, in a circle, play Harlem Globetrotters with the medicine ball. The circle is more spread out this time, and the boxers should be getting some "air" under the ball. They should be throwing it up in the air, not straight into their partners chests. In this drill, if the medicine ball is dropped, the whole group does 10 pushups for each time the ball is dropped. (last night, I had one group who had to do 40 pushups)
#3- Situps, with a partner. Boxer #1 does a situp, and is then handed a Medicine ball while in the "up" position. He hold medicine ball outstretched above head and then does another situp, handing the medicine ball back to his partner. He then does another situp, at the end of which he gets the ball again. Essentially, he is doing every other situp with the medicine ball.
#4- With a partner, standing back to back. Stand far enough apart so that there is enough room to hand the ball between you two. Boxer #1 twists to right (keeping feet planted) and hands ball to Boxer #2, who is also twisted around to the right. Boxer #2 takes medicine ball and then twists around to left and hands ball to Boxer #1, who should now also be twisted around to the left. Repeat...
#5- I like to knee the medicine ball up in the air in front of me as though it were a soccer ball. My students think I'm nuts though. I will eventually have them do this drill themselves.
#6- Drop the medicine ball on boxers stomach in the midst of situps. Boxer should do a situp, and while in the down position, partner drops ball onto his stomach. Be careful not to drop in on boxers lap or sternum.
#7- Have boxer perform a V-Sit or Leg Raise. While holding that position, hit boxer in abs and obliques with medicine ball. Be careful doing this with your beginners. Start off softly, then build up power to find your boxers "threshold".
#8- Personal Favorite of mine from the boxing gym. Willie Johnson (I think that was his last name), one of my boxing coaches, would have us partner up. Both boxers wear gloves/bag gloves (I recommend thick bag gloves, not thin ones. Like Ringside's Super Bag Gloves. Just make sure they are thick gloves). This drill should be done for 3 rounds apiece, meaning a total of 6 rounds. Boxer #1 hold the medicine ball around chest height, Boxer #2 boxes with the ball as though it were a heavy bag. Boxer #1 (the ball holder) should change positions of the ball to create different angles and punch levels, and should use footwork to do the same. Force Boxer #2 (the puncher) to move around alot. Switch the ball between each round. If any boxer drops the ball, that boxer (not his partner) must do 10-20 pushups for each time the ball is dropped. 10 pushups for beginners, 20 for advanced boxers and fighters.
#9- With the medicine ball on the ground in front of you. Set the round clock with 30 second intervals. Start with the round clock by jumping over the medicine ball front and back. Get the knees up high towards your chest! Keep this up until the interval timer sounds, then switch by jumping side to side. Again, jump with the knees up high to your chest. At next interval, back to front and back. Keep switching from front/back to side/side
Well, I hope this give you guys some ideas on how to use the medicine ball. Have fun!
» Conditioning the Shins
I've decided to do a short post on shin conditioning, as this topic keeps rearing its ugly head (over and over and over...)
1. Kick the Heavy Bag and/or Thai pads. You should kick over 100x's each day. I recommend 500x's, or around that figure.
2. Stop every so often and massage the shins vigourously to get the blood flowing back into them. This promotes faster healing of the bruised flesh and any damage to the bone.
3. Do not "tap" or "beat" your shins with sticks, boards, bottles, etc. This causes bruises, knots, etc to form on the shin. These painful little areas may stick with you for quite some time. My BJJ instructor has had a shin injury last for over a year b/c of improper shin conditioning.
4. Optional exercise: find a cylindrical object such as a rolling pin or bottle, and roll it lightly up and down the full length of the shin. Do this for at least 20 min's per shin.
There has been mention of the popular myth that in old age, Thai boxers shins become soft. Believe me, this is NOT TRUE! I have spoken with many older, retired Thai boxers, none of them have experienced any detrimental health issues concerning the conditioning of their shins and legs. I also s/w a medical professional, and to the best of that person's knowledge, the only likely explanation would be if someone had osteo-perosis (sp?), where the body leaches calcium from the bones when there is not enough in the diet. (Thailand is still in many ways a third world nation)
***As a note, I have not tried our friend Fu, Ren-Li's shin/muscle conditioning exercises. My knowledge of internal training methods is a few steps below the novice level, but one of SuriyaSak's Muay Thai instructors is also an internalist, and one of his instructors in Internals was once a Thai boxer in Thailand. They have backed up Fu, Ren-Li's statements to date, so I'll not argue.***
Posted to Usenet's rec.martial-arts Sun, 16 Apr 2000 00:07:22 GMT
I always forget something...
When you start kicking the bag, start kicking lightly at first. Gradually increase the power so that you are kicking full power around your 30th kick.
Don't forget to stop every so often to massage your shins! You might also like to invest in Boxing Liniment (basically it's Ben Gay). Massage your shins with that before and after you kick, if available.
» Ranking Systems
Almost everyone is familiar with martial arts belt ranking systems, such as those used in Karate, TKD, Judo, etc. I have seen a couple of questions arise from time to time regarding ranking used in Muay Thai.
Universally, there is no ranking system other than a persons fight record. The only belt to earn is the Championship Belt. Hence the Muay Thai saying "The Belt is in the Ring!".
However, from gym to gym, there are ranking systems employed for a variety of reasons. Gyms throughout the world use their own private ranking systems within Muay Thai, my gym included. Even the Thai's have some honorary titles or rankings that they bestow upon boxers and students outside of a Championship Belt.
Ranking systems are primarily used for two purposes:
1. Dangling a carrot in front of a students nose. Face it, for those of us who do not live in Thailand, Muay Thai matches are often hard to come by. I live/teach on the East Coast of the US. When I was an active fighter (from '93-'97) I only had the opportunity to fight in 8 Muay Thai matches. Those matches all took place in '93 and '94. After that, I was unable to get fights for myself, though a few boxers in my gym were able to continue to compete. So, since fights are so hard to come by, the students still have a goal to work towards.
2. Keeping track of a students progress. By having students ranked, I know exactly what each person knows and what I need to teach them, rather than trying to keep mental track of each individual. With each rank, there are a set of techniques they are to be concentrating on to learn proficiently before they should concentrate on anything else.
I do not know the ranking structures of the other gyms throughout the world, but many of them use colored armbands called Kruang Ruang, or Paprachiat.
At SuriyaSak Muay Thai, for example, we use the following colors to designate ranking:
The Yellow Paprachiat is earned after demonstrating proficiency in Muay Thai's basics. Such as the Round Kick, the Push Kick, Boxing, Straight Knees, and some of the Elbow Strikes
The Green Paprachiat is earned when the student has learned all of SuriyaSak's Muay Thai techniques with proficiency.
The Blue Paprachiat is earned when a student has demonstrated his fitness level and ring knowledge to such an extent as to be able to be put in a professional Muay Thai match (Thai rules).
The rest of the rankings are honorary, in that there is no real test.
The Red Paprachiat is awarded to fighters that have demonstrated good Muay Thai technique in the ring. Fighters must have at least 3 fights to be considered for this rank.
The Black Paprachiat is awarded to those Master K has certified as an instructor, and is thus able to teach Muay Thai on his or her own.
The Black/Red Paprachiat is awarded to one who has been certified to teach, and has also proven himself in the ring.
Keep in mind, when discussing ranking within Muay Thai, the only universally agreed upon ranking is a boxers fight record, or a Championship Belt. Any other ranking within Muay Thai only has significance within that particular gym, and its affiliates.
» Suggestions on Boxing Combos?
>I'm a righthanded southpaw
Er, what is a righthanded southpaw? I assume you mean to say that you are righthanded, but fight in a southpaw stance. We'll take it from there.
One of the most basic, and effective, combinations is the Jab-Cross- Hook. Bread and Butter combo in most peoples opinion. After the Hook, remember to move out of the way. Bob and Weave out of the way.
Another very effective combo is Hook-Cross-Hook. I was surprised to find out how well this combo works during sparring/competition.
Jab-Cross-Jab-Cross: If you catch your opponent with the first two, keep sending them down the pike.
Hook-Uppercut-Hook: Very much like the Hook-Cross-Hook. Try intermixing the two combo's.
"Overhand" Straight Punch-Uppercut: The overhand punch is often neglected (in the boxing gyms that I've attended anyway...). This combo works amazingly well if you can get the first punch in. The overhand punch knocks your opponent right into the uppercut. I actually lost one match by TKO to a fighter who only used these two techniques effectively. The rest of his techniques weren't all that, but it didn't matter. I was suckered into the overhand punch, and it was all downhill from there...
Jab-Hook: Another combo to not underestimate. Practice makes perfect. You have to really drill with this one for it to work. Jab and Hook of the same hand, by the way...
Jab-Uppercut-Hook-Cross: This one is a personal favorite of mine b/c of the way it flows. I used to use this effectively against a southpaw fighter who was a tad bigger than me (about 2 inches taller and 20 lbs heavier, if memory serves...). After the jab, I would slip his return jab, then step in with the uppercut. The Hook is awkward, as his lead arm can smother it easily, but the Cross at the end is poetry.
After you get some basic combo's down, start doubling up the jabs, or stringing the different combo's together. You will start to find what combo's work in what situations, and will be able to modify them to work for you.
REMEMBER!!! (This is probably the most important advice I can give you!!!) When you have completed any combination, MOVE!!!! Do not stand in place to admire your work. Trust me! You WILL get hit! The moment you have thrown your last punch, change positions and move your head.
For more info on Combo's, visit the website listed below for archived tutorials. I have posted an article on combo theory and basic Muay Thai combo's.
Also, look on the same web site for Frank Benn's articles on boxing. He is more expereinced in that department than I am.
Kor Hi Chok Dee! (Good Luck!)
»A Cure For Bag Pain. A Common And Unnecessary Self-Defense Training Ailment.
Author: Randy LaHaie
I receive a lot of email asking about heavy bag training. Many of my web site visitors arrive at the site by searching the term "heavy bag" in the search engines. I can only guess that many of you use or are considering heavy bag training as part of your conditioning and self-defense program.
This article was initiated by an email asking a heavy bag question. I hope you can benefit from our discussion. Let me know what you think...Here's what the email said:
"I just read your article on heavy bag training. I've begun using the heavy bag for a good cardio/cross training workout. After training, my hands are often fatigued and slightly bruised. I believe my technique is O.K. but perhaps I'm hitting the bag harder than necessary. I wear wraps and decent bag gloves. I've been searching the Internet for an article on this very issue for some time and couldn't find an answer. I'm sure others have the same problem. Any Advice?"
Pounding on a heavy bag can be an excellent form of exercises. If done right, it's an excellent way to build your stamina, tone your muscles, improve bone density and develop self-defense related qualities. If done wrong however, heavy bag training can produce negative results and lead to injuries.
The problem of sore hands and joint pain is common, especially if you are new to bag work.
BAG WORK STRESSES THE BODY.
Like other forms of exercises, bag work "stresses" your body. Improvement comes from alternating periods of stress and recovery. Stress the body, let it recover and adapt, then stress it again That's what "training" is.
Over time you increase the intensity and/or duration of your training sessions as your body becomes stronger and more resilient. MUSCLES ADAPT
FASTER THAN CONNECTIVE TISSUE
It's important to know that muscles adapt faster than the connective tissues (tendons & ligaments)that hold you together. When you begin heavybag training, your hitting power can quickly surpass the resilience of connective tissue. The result can be soreness and connective tissue injury... That's not good!
THE MYTH OF NO PAIN, NO GAIN?
If you are into training for the long haul (you should be) you need to acknowledge your limitations and avoid over-training and activities that can lead to injuries. Learn to listen to your body and respect the feedback that it gives you.
Training with the pain of lactic acid build up (the burning feeling of a muscle that is being worked)or through the discomfort of exhausting blitz work is fine.
However training through intense pain, joint soreness or bruising can only lead to chronic problems. Taking care of your body and avoiding injury should be your number one priority when designing your training program. After all, self-defense IS about "protecting" your body, isn't it?
POINTS TO CONSIDER:
Here are a few pointers to consider when training on a heavy bag.
*** Don't KILL the bag! ***
The single biggest mistake made when doing heavy bag work is to try to "kill" the bag. Trying to hit the bag too hard over-stresses the body and destroys the mechanics of the skills you are trying to develop.
In addition to increasing the potential for injury, your strikes and kicks become slow, sloppy and off balanced.
*** Do it right, Keep it Tight! ***
Focus on staying relaxed, hitting with perfect biomechanics, and hitting fast. Striking power is a byproduct of speed and technique. Keep in mind that the heavy bag is a big inanimate object. It doesn't hit back.
Always work on strikes and kicks that start from and return to a solid, well protected body position.
Sloppy bag work results in bad habits and the development of strikes and kicks that you'll never land in a sparring match or street fight.
*** Hit Don't Push***
There's a big difference between hitting and pushing. If you try to over penetrate the bag when you hit it, you won't be able to generate knockout power. Many people are told to punch "through" the target when they are learning to punch. If this advice is misunderstood, it can sabotage your punching power.
You should make impact with the bag as your arm nears full extension. You should penetrate a couple of inches beyond the "surface" of the bag for optimal energy transfer.
Consider that your fist accelerates from the time you initiate a punch and continues to do so until it reaches full extension. The closer to full extension you are when you land your punch the more speed, and therefore striking power you will be able to generate.
Listen to the bag for feedback about whether your hitting or pushing. If you are getting a good clean hit, you will hear a nice "crack" as opposed to a dull thud when you hit the bag. The bag should not swing much if you are hitting properly.
*** Lighten Up ***
Supplement your heavy bag training with focus mitts and Thai pads. Focus mitts are flat, padded "gloves" that boxing trainers use to develop punching speed and precision. Thai pads are larger pads that are held along the trainer's forearms to work on both strikes and kicks.
The advantage of this equipment is that there is less resistance on impact and therefore less strain on the body from striking them. They also allow a wide variety of training drills that will develop timing, distance, movement and accuracy. Of course the "downside" is that you will need a partner to hold them for you.
*** Take a Break ***
If you lifted weights every day, doing the same exercises for the same muscles, you'd quickly become over-trained and potentially injured. Impact work (hitting things) is no different. If you do too much, too often without taking adequate time off in between workouts your body cannot recover and adapt. I suggest you keep your heavy bag workouts to a couple per week; three at the most.
*** Try Boxing Gloves ***
When I train people who are new to heavy bag work, I encourage them to use boxing gloves instead of bag gloves. The extra padding acts as a better shock absorber that reduces the impact energy on the knuckles and reduces strain on the wrists, elbows and shoulders. A quality pair of 12 to 14 ounce boxing gloves should do the trick.
*** To Wrap or Not To Wrap ***
Hand wraps are cotton strips that are used by boxers to bind and support their hands during punching practice.
I don't wrap my hands when I do heavy bag work. (although, I've been hitting for 30 years). When I use hand wraps, I feel a lot more direct impact on my knuckles. I guess there is less "give" to the hands and the energy doesn't dissipate on impact as effectively.
I can't tell you whether or not you should be wrapping your hands. Try hitting the bag with and without hand wraps and use your own judgment as to what feels better.
Key Points to Avoiding Heavy Bag Training Injuries:
=> Don't "Kill" the bag
=> Do it right, keep it tight - don't get sloppy
=> Hit don't push the bag
=> Lighten up with focus mitts and Thai pad training
=> Consider using boxing gloves instead of bag gloves
=> Experiment with hand wraps
There you have it... my opinion on bag work and injury reduction. If your hands or joints are sore from doing bag work, I suggest you give them a few weeks off and replace your bag work with lower impact training drills.
Punching and kicking in front of a mirror =(shadow boxing) for example is a great cardio workout and an excellent way to assess and monitor your technique. If you use the heavy bag intelligently it can provide you with years of safe, productive training and conditioning. It's a great piece of equipment. Take care, train smart and stay safe...
About the author:
Randy LaHaie is the president of Protective Strategies and has been teaching reality-based self-defense for over 30 years. He is the author of several "Toughen Up Combative Training Guides"