Why You Should Learn Muay Thai: Blocking

Muay Thai blocking is quite simple. There’s no tiger claw or upper, lower, horse head’s foot move. The fanciness has been taken out and what’s left is easy and effective.

Head

To protect yourself from jabs, up/down elblows and anything coming for your face straight on its typical boxing “HANDS UP” style. Put both your forearms in front of your head and keep as small of a gap as possible between them. Its effective for jabs and the like, but it keeps you wide open to hooks, kicks and spinning punches/elbows that aim for your jaw and temple.

The other style of blocking for your noggin is this:

Make sure to be aware of where the punch will land. Your forearm is strong, but there are many degrees you can bend this block. A good opponent will always probe you before tossing his hard strikes. Never get to comfortable with a way of holding your arm. And, as shown in the picture, get that shoulder in their tight. A blow to a strong shoulder and the forearm instead of one or the other will make strikes easier to buffer and spread the damage.

Legs

Its all in the legs. When a low or mid leg strike comes your way, you lift your leg up like this:

The power of the kick is deflected by the flexibility and strength of your lower leg. Always, ALWAYS, try to avoid blocking a kick with your thigh or hip if you can, unless you can get the kick to hit directly on hip bone (good luck). The reason for the leg block is for the shin of your opponent to hit the side of your shinbone and calf, mitigating the muscle cramping malice the kick is meant to inflict. Muay Thai fighters train so that their legs are like steel bars, where muscle and bone can take multiple strikes of enormous power. Train your legs for that. Practice on soft wood. Smack your shins with sticks. Get those micro fractures going, safely of course. To fight Muay Thai, you need to train as the Thai experts have done. They used banana trees. The West, not so much, but we find our ways. Padded bags are better on your legs if you train alot, but never forget you need to build up your bones as well as muscle to fight. The less experienced, like wannabe tough guy MMA fighters, end up with floppy, broken legs because they practice their strikes on soft bags and when a good kick or well timed block hits… CRACK.

This is what bad training gets you.

Next Post: Strikes.

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Why You Should Learn Muay Thai: Movement

Moving around in Muay Thai isn’t complicated, but it requires a good amount of body awareness. Unlike karate or kung fu, where there is several stances, this art involves two stances (which I know of), that are at your leisure. You can use them, or mix them up, its up to you.

Leverage Stance

The easiest stance, but one that leaves your quite vulnerable, is what I call the leverage stance. This is how it looks:

All pics are grabbed from YouTube.

Keeping your strong leg in the back allows you to gain extra power for kicks, punches and the like, but it opens up your weak leg to the devastating leg kicks that Muay Thai is known for. You may be able to get knock out blows from this stance, but any experienced fighter will see that your weak leg (in this case, the left) is wide open. A good half dozen well targeted strikes on that thigh and he’ll be limping. I recommend that beginners use the leverage stance to get used to the strikes of Muay Thai, but always keep in mind that you’ll need to evolve to the next stance eventually.

Neutral Stance

Its much closer than the other guy, just a bad angle.

The neutral stance is a stance I learned from an experienced fighter/trainer at the gym who was kind enough to show me it on his free time. The neutral stance pulls back your weak leg as close to your strong leg as possible, if not at equal placement. This reduces its vulnerability and allows quicker reaction times (the split second between having your leg flexed during a strike and being able to block is paramount). But, for the inexperienced fighter, creating the full body force to strike is harder. Less pivot movement, less swing, less power. When I cover striking, I’ll show how this stance can aid in your kicks and punches without putting your front leg into mortal danger.

Moving

Moving in Muay Thai is taught to beginners by imagining a square. You start at a corner and then move around the square over and over. If you were starting at the top left corner, you would step over with your back leg (in leverage stance), then slide over your front leg, as if it was a dead limb. To move back, you step back with your strong leg and, again, drag the front leg. But, to move left, you use your front leg and drag the back leg. YOU MUST NEVER CROSS YOUR LEGS. Never. That opens you up to trips, punches, etc and if you’re caught crossing your legs when struck, your balance is fucked and that’s that. In neutral stance, its the same way. Slide your leg, preferably the one closest to the edge of the invisible square, and slide it in the direction you want to go, never crossing your legs. When you start this, it`ll seem strange, but after a few hours of training, its easy and becomes the second layer of your basic Muay Thai fighting style.

Keep Loose

While I trained, I was nervous as fuck. Put on top of that that I was a beta freak scared of my wife`s opinion on the matter (she didn`t like I was training), I was as stiff as a virgin watching Baywatch. I slide around the square as if I was on a track. No bounce, no sway. My movements were wooden, my strikes straight armed; if I was ever put in a real fight, my arms would of been broken on impact. You must ALWAYS keep your limbs loose when striking. This might sound strange when this art involves moves that can break bones, but its for your well-being. Its not the power behind the strike that trainers worry about, its the extension.

You need buffering when you`re tossing out punches and kicks with the force that Muay Thai expects. Hitting a guy at the very end of your reach puts your arm out to be grappled, or if he blocks it correctly, the angle may sprain your limbs or worse. You need to keep aware of your body`s ability to absorb the impact of the strike your sending out. If you think the extension is too far, or that your straining yourself to commit to the strike, then don`t do it. It will throw off your balance and contort your limbs. Your body will thank you for using your head.

These things are the foundation of Muay Thai fighting. Like you see in any number of martial art movies or Karate Kid rip-offs, the first thing you must learn is balance and movement. If you can`t move, you can`t dodge. If you can`t dodge, you can`t block. If you can`t block, you may as well be a punching bag for your opponent.

Next Post: Blocking

Why You Should Learn Muay Thai: Intro

Marital arts is a must for any man worth his balls. Not only do you get a great workout, you learn skills and techniques that may save your life one day, or at least win you a bar brawl or two. It pumps you up and with time, you’ll learn to be confident, if you aren’t already. I highly recommend Muay Thai, or the Art of Eight Limbs. It is a brutal striking martial art that will toughen you from your bones up, literally. Part of Muay Thai’s training is to create micro-fractures in your bones so that in time, and with a lot of calcium, your shins, elbows and such will be harder than steel.

I trained in Muay Thai for several months while in SLC. Due to obvious circumstances, my membership ended up going to waste. But, in that time, I learned more about real fighting than any other dojo I tried out in my youth. While karate or taekwondo would have you stand still and repeat after your sensei, my first lesson in Muay Thai was being shown how to move. Then punching combos and by the end of the free intro lesson, the instructor had me knocking off combos and kicking pads. Straight in, no nonsense. No belts. No gis. Just pure fighting. The last day I was there I sparred for a good half an hour, getting rocked and socked, bleeding and bruised. When I got home, I couldn’t of been more excited to get back. Sadly, bitches be crazy, but that’s a story already told.

In these next few posts, I’ll get across the basic movements, punches, kicks and other things a guy needs to train himself in his own home. And when I get back to training in a gym, I will pass along more nuanced tips and tricks for anyone who wants to train to be a fighter, but doesn’t have the money or bravery to do it with others.