One of the beauties of Muay Thai is that there are countless ways to finish a fight.
Because it’s the art of eight limbs, you can use your fists, knees, elbows, and feet (or perhaps more accurately, your shins) to land a decisive blow.
Plus, unlike other forms of striking arts, there are fewer restrictions about where you can take aim. Your opponent’s head, body, and legs are fair game.
If you can strike hard, fast, and accurately, a spectacular knockout could be yours. These are the specific areas to target.
One-Shot KO Targets
There are a few sweet spots that you can hit to end a bout with a single strike.
A direct hit on any of these areas is no knockout guarantee in Muay Thai, but it will give you the best chance of adding a spectacular entry to your highlight reel.
This is the biggest area of your opponent’s head to target.
That’s not to say that hitting it is easy, however. Any competent Muay Thai fighter will be able to protect their chin by keeping it tucked, keeping their hands up, or moving their head.
The good news for the attacker is that they can’t stay safe forever, and there are so many ways to hit the jaw.
Pretty much any punch, knee, elbow, or kick – including front kicks – can cause an instant KO if it lands perfectly on the jaw.
You’ll achieve the best results if you make an impact at an angle, but that does not rule out straight shots. Your cross will never be completely straight, just as your rival’s head will never point completely straight forward, so you can still achieve that critical snap.
Your temples lie on either side of your head. They’re smaller targets than the jaw, but if you can land a direct hit, it’s just as good to aim at.
Because your opponent will face you head-on, their temples are in no danger from blows that come down the middle. Hooks, round kicks, and cross elbows all come from the side and pack enough KO power to make a big impact on the temple.
You can also generate a huge amount of force and find your mark with pretty much any kind of spinning strike.
A fighter may not aim directly for the neck, but a direct hit could mean a one-shot KO.
The knockout zone is on the side of the neck, just below their ear, and it would be no surprise to see a high kick land here.
An overhand punch may also hit home if the defending martial artist turns away or drops their hand at the wrong time.
#4 Behind The Ear
Strikes to the back of the head are illegal in most combat sports, but the spot just behind your ear is fair game.
The impact causes major disruption to the competitor’s equilibrium and should knock them down for a count, if not an instant KO.
This is another area that you might not explicitly target, but you’ll see it get hit all the time in competition – often when a fighter moves forward at an inopportune moment.
That means many of the same strikes that can hit the temple can land behind the ear.
The forehead may not be the best target for your boxing because you could break your hand on such a hard part of the head, but the right strike can still put someone down.
A perfect punch might work, but you’d be better off connecting with a rock-rad part of your own anatomy.
Elbows and knees, especially in the clinch, are your friends if you’re aiming at the top of your opponent’s head.
If you’re an MMA fan, you’ll know this as Bas Rutten’s all-time favorite.
The liver is not protected by your ribcage, and as one of your vital organs, you’ll really feel it if it gets hit hard.
Unlike the other targets so far on this list, its position on the body severely limits what strikes you can use to hit it with maximum efficacy.
You might have some luck with spinning kicks off your right leg, but the sure-fire approach is to use strikes from your left side. Left hooks and uppercuts are great, as are left round kicks and knees.
When it comes to kicking, southpaws have a natural advantage because that’s their power side, so it pays to work hard at perfecting kicks off your weaker leg if you stand orthodox.
#7 Solar Plexus
A gut punch is sure to sting, but it’s more effective to aim a little higher to hit the soft spot between the top of the abs and the bottom of your sternum.
A straight strike to the solar plexus, whether it’s a knee or a punch, can end even the toughest fighter’s night.
Just like the liver shot, the impact can shut the entire body down. Even if your rival has the will to get up, they might not be able to as they gasp for air on the canvas.
The other great thing about these body blows is your hands are less likely to be damaged because the targets are soft.
There are plenty of other places to aim when you’re on the attack in Muay Thai.
While they may not bring the same, spectacular, one-shot results as those listed above, an accumulation of damage in these areas could be your ticket to a TKO finish.
Noses get broken all the time in martial arts, and you have plenty of weapons in the art of eight limbs to rearrange your rivals’.
Even if you break their nose, a tough opponent won’t go down easily. However, it will hurt and they’ll find it harder to breathe, meaning that every additional strike and second in the ring will take them closer to defeat.
Your success with low leg kicks may come down to how tough and well-conditioned your adversary is. One perfectly-placed power kick to the thigh could end a fight, but it’s unlikely.
However, dozens of kicks to the meaty part of the leg can easily build up enough damage to ensure your opponent struggles to stay standing.
Though they’re rarely seen in Muay Thai compared to MMA, calf kicks can still be used successfully to destroy the lower part of a leg.
If you come up against someone who neglects to check kicks and can hit the sweet spot on their calf, you can quickly soften them up and work toward that TKO.
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