3 Ways to Learn Muay Thai

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3 Ways to Learn Muay Thai
3 Ways to Learn Muay Thai
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Muay Thai is an ancient style of martial arts that originated in the mid-15th century in Thailand. Although they were often brutal fights, fights today are regulated by a judge who takes the points and each of the fighters must also wear protective clothing to minimize the damage caused. However, Muay Thai is still a fast-moving and possibly dangerous sport, and it is vital to learn the form and techniques needed before considering starting the practice.

Steps

Method 1 of 3: Learning Basic Muay Thai Positions

Learn Muay Thai Step 1

Step 1. Improve fighting posture

The posture is essential to maintain balance during the practice of Muay Thai and, when done properly, can protect you from blows and still give the necessary strength to attack the opponent with maximum power. It's important to have flexibility in the proper fighting posture, so you should warm up before starting.

  • Spread your feet wider than your hips and less than your shoulders, keeping your knees slightly bent. Leave the dominant foot slightly behind for more leverage when using it in a kick.
  • Slightly contract your abdominal muscles (without exerting force). Avoid making them tense to the point that it is difficult to breathe or move, but remember to tighten them to resist possible blows to the belly.
  • Keep the fist of your dominant hand shielding your face, but ready to attack, and keep the fist of your non-dominant hand slightly in front of your nose.
  • Bring your chin down toward your shoulder blade and hold it steady. This helps protect you from a potential broken nose or black eye.
  • Change places and try to periodically speed up the pace of your movements. The objective is to ensure that the opponent cannot predict your future move.
Learn Muay Thai Step 2

Step 2. Learn to punch correctly

If you've never had experience with boxing or any other type of fighting, you may not know how to throw a punch. It's important to have good posture, or a sloppy punch can cause injury. The punch, when well executed, should move from the shoulder and towards the fist at the moment of contact.

  • Keep your fist loose, but with your hand and arm slightly relaxed when you are not delivering a blow. Try to keep your shoulders loose as well.
  • When starting the blow, make a fist. The thumb must not be wrapped around the other fingers, or it may break on contact.
  • Exhale heavily at the beginning of the punch and rotate your torso, with the entire upper body moving behind the fist.
  • If you are going to apply a direct hit, turn your fist so that the knuckles of your hand are directed horizontally with respect to the opponent's body (parallel to the ground). However, if you want to apply a side hook, it's okay to keep the knuckles vertical.
  • Do not overstretch your fist, leaving your body unprotected from counterattacks. Immediately swing your arm back after strike contact to block an attack or prepare for the next punch.
Learn Muay Thai Step 3

Step 3. Practice a roundhouse kick

Roundhouse kicks (also called "spinning sweeps") are an important part of Muay Thai. Both fists, knees and feet are used in combat, so it's important that you work all the relevant muscle groups and practice punching extensively.

  • Transfer your body weight to the foot that will remain on the floor. Step outward at a 45-degree angle as you prepare for the kick, using your dominant foot for the maneuver.
  • Rotate towards the target, boosting greater inertia with the kick.
  • Rotate the shoulder, increasing face protection. You must prevent the opponent from being able to easily apply a blow to the head while performing the movement.

Method 2 of 3: Developing a Combat Technique

Learn Muay Thai Step 4

Step 1. Learn to practice with an opponent

Practicing with another person is very different from developing a technique on your own or fighting a punching bag. Although many practitioners feel intimidated, it is important to remain calm and relaxed. The best way to prepare for one-on-one combat is to focus on basic moves and remember to keep your guard up to protect yourself from counterattacks.

  • The best time to hit an opponent is when he's throwing a punch, when he doesn't expect to be attacked (if you change the pace, for example), or when he's at a difficult angle to block.
  • Remember to use your non-dominant hand to deliver a short, sharp jab. This serves as preparation for the biggest punch with the dominant hand and can be used to confuse or intimidate the opponent.
  • Don't focus on speed, as fast punches use less body force than slow punches. Work your form and strive to deliver the best and most powerful blows possible.
Learn Muay Thai Step 5

Step 2. Practice some Muay Thai techniques

There are several techniques within this modality, and mastering them all can take many years. However, even as a beginner, you can incorporate some traditional techniques into your training, which will develop and serve as the foundation of your style.

  • Kao Dode (Jump Knee Blow) - Jump with one leg and use the knee on the same side to strike the opponent with a direct attack.
  • Kao Loi (flying knee strike/jumping) - take a step forward, start jumping on one leg as if you have to use that same knee or foot, and switch in the air to do a knee strike with the other leg.
  • Kao Tone (straight knee strike) - Strikes with the knee straight and up, ideally standing very close to the opponent.
  • Kao Noi (small knee strike) - In close combat, use your knee to strike the opponent's upper thigh (not groin) to tire them out. This can also be used to block a kick or knee strike.
Learn Muay Thai Step 6

Step 3. Combine the different moves to tire the opponent

In real combat, you need to move with speed and quickly incorporate many different moves. Strength and form should always come before speed, but as you progress you can become a more experienced fighter with faster reaction times. Think of your opponent as a nut protected by a hard shell. It is necessary to break this outer shell (with blows to the legs and arms) before reaching the nut (a metaphor indicating a direct attack, with close proximity, to the head or abdomen).

  • Dodging a blow and counterattacking the opponent works well early in a fight, but can wear you out quickly.
  • As you progress through combat, you should spend less time moving around and focus your energy on blocking the opponent's direct attacks, then finding an opening in your position.
  • Keep moving forward during combat. This puts you on the defensive, giving you more momentum as you prepare for a direct hit.
Learn Muay Thai Step 7

Step 4. Train with a professional

Training on your own is a good start and practicing with a friend or other partner is an excellent second step. However, if you are serious about improving Muay Thai, you must train with a professional with extensive experience in martial arts. A trainer can help you find your own weaknesses and vulnerabilities, improve your technique, and take training to the next level.

  • You can find local Muay Thai trainers and gyms on the internet.
  • Mastering Muay Thai takes time, like any other learned skill. Be patient, and if you make the decision to train with a professional, follow their advice to improve your posture, technique, and form.

Method 3 of 3: Warming Up Your Body Before Training

Learn Muay Thai Step 8

Step 1. Stretch your muscles

It is essential to stretch before doing any kind of physical activity. Martial airs require agile muscles and joints, and it's very easy to strain or injure a muscle when you don't take enough care. Spend at least ten minutes stretching each major muscle group that will be used for the day, before moving on to other warm-up routines.

  • Do the Spinning Abdominal Stretch. Lie on your stomach, with your hips on the floor, and stand up with your arms straight before rolling one shoulder (then the other) downward.
  • Stretch the hamstrings by placing one foot flat on the floor and the other on a table or other raised piece of furniture. Bend your knee and slowly lower your chest towards it before switching sides.
  • Another stretch for the hamstrings involves placing your feet flat on the floor shoulder-width apart and bending forward without bending your knees. Hold this stretch for 10 seconds and repeat it three to five times to increase your flexibility.
  • Stretch the adductor, keeping one foot flat on the floor (facing forward) and bending the other leg (facing outward, par away from the body). Lower your body and slowly stretch your groin muscles before switching sides.
Learn Muay Thai Step 9

Step 2. Relax your joints

Joints play an important role in Muay Thai flexibility. You have to move fluidly, which can be difficult if your joints are stiff or locked. By warming them up, you are more flexible and agile during training and any upcoming fights.

  • Warm your knees with squats, holding them and rotating them in circles. Try doing 20 to 30 rotations, changing direction halfway through the exercise.
  • Work your ankles by standing on the ball of one foot with the heel raised and rotating the ankle 10 to 20 times. Then move to the other side.
  • Relax your hips with your feet shoulder-width apart and your hands on your hips. Rotate your hips in one direction 10 times and then move to the other direction.
  • Work your neck by moving your chin up, down, and side to side. Do this slowly and try to do 10 to 20 reps on each side.
Learn Muay Thai Step 10

Step 3. Do cardiovascular workouts

Muay Thai, like other martial arts, requires fast and strong movement. One of the best ways to practice this modality, including previous warm-ups, is to do a good cardiovascular workout. There are several ways to raise your heart rate and intensify your breathing, so it's worth experimenting with a few different routines to find which one works best for you.

  • Jumping rope is an excellent cardiovascular activity. Try doing two sets of intense, fast jumps for a total of three minutes each (six minutes total).
  • Take a run or shoot. You can choose a longer run (approximately five kilometers) to burn calories and intensify your workout, or do five to 10 sets of short 50 to 100 meters shots.
  • Go swimming laps if you have access to a pool. Swimming works the biggest muscle groups and is an excellent form of cardiovascular exercise.
Learn Muay Thai Step 11

Step 4. Do a shadow workout

This practice is an excellent warm-up routine that helps you practice your cadence, essential in real combat. Try this exercise in three sets of three minutes each (a total of nine minutes) and, if possible, try doing it in front of a mirror, noting your body shape. It is important to have enough space on all sides so that you do not injure yourself or another person.

  • Start in a fighting stance, with your feet shoulder-width apart and your weight evenly divided between both feet. Stand on the balls of your feet, with your knees aligned towards one of your feet.
  • Keep the fist of your dominant hand close to your face, level with your jaw or temple, and the other slightly in front of you. The elbows should be bent and slightly turned out and away from the body.
  • Practice jumping from front to back and side to side. Punch and jab with knees and elbows, trying to maintain balance and weight distribution over both feet.

Tips

  • Muay Thai is an excellent martial art for learning self-defense. If you're training merely for that reason, learn at least one grapple.
  • Exercise and stretch your body as much as possible. Flexibility and muscle strength will make you a stronger and more proficient fighter.

Notices

  • Elbow strikes are prohibited in many gyms and tournaments. Avoid them in the ring unless you are sure they are allowed.
  • Any blow aimed at the head or neck has the potential to kill. Be careful and know the danger that exists for both you and your opponent.
  • Unless you are practicing with another experienced Muay Thai student, just use your knowledge as a form of self-defense. Martial arts should never be used as a form of bullying or intimidation.

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