The push kick in Muay Thai is an effective weapon at both doing damage and creating a degree of separation between two fighters. It’s useful against aggressive Muay Mat fighters who like to come forward and put pressure. However, there are also many available counters to the push kick.
If you’re coming forward and your opponent is using a push kick to keep you at bay, there are a host of options for you in this position. Countering the push kick is essential to your success if you look to get on the inside and do some damage.
In this video, Muay Thai World Champion Daniel McGowan breaks down three variations of the push kick counter with partner Petchtaksin Sor Sommai.
McGowan demonstrates how to use the lead left hand in the orthodox stance to either sweep or slap the push kick, rendering an opponent off balance and susceptible to powerful counters and combinations.
Today, Evolve University shares three Muay Thai push kick counters for Muay Mat fighters.
1) Lead Hand
The first technique uses the lead left hand sweep. You’re using your left hand to sweep an opponent’s push kick to the side. After you sweep, you automatically go straight into a big left hook while your opponent is vulnerable and off-balance. In this split-second moment, your opponent is susceptible to getting hit clean, so take full advantage of it.
Follow the left hook up with the low kick to the lead leg of your opponent to deal damage to the thigh. The reason for the low kick is to try and slow down your opponent’s movement. If you keep targeting that thigh area, that’s going to slow them down eventually.
The second counter sequence with the lead left hand is the slap. You’re slapping down at the opponent’s push kick towards the right side, again effectively knocking your opponent off-balance. This time, instead of throwing a left hook, your opponent is now vulnerable to a right cross to the chin. You’re in a great position to land this shot because of the natural sway of your hips after you slap down with the left hand.
After the right cross, you go back to the left hook. It’s a classic boxing combination that works incredibly well. Like the previous sequence, end matters with another low kick to continue doing damage to your opponent’s legs.
2) Rear Hand
Now it’s time to use the opposite hand, the rear hand. In the standard orthodox stance, that will be your right hand. You’re going to be using this rear hand to, again, either sweep or slap your opponent’s push kick away, depending on whether your opponent is throwing a left or right push kick.
Again, you want to slap down with your right hand hard enough to force your opponent off balance. Slap towards your left side to shift momentum into your follow-up punch which is a big left hook. With the left hook you want to change levels and target the body first, then come back up top with a left hook to the head.
After landing the left hook, the next strike in the sequence is the low kick, targeting the lead thigh to do some more damage. You really want to dig in with the low kick, to affect your opponent’s movement. It will also take the sting off his strikes because the base will be compromised.
This technique against the push kick is very effective because it’s a very quick movement. You can slap really quick, and then you can counter really quick also. You can use big punches again, and it leaves your opponent off-balance. When these punches land, it’s going to be even more effective than usual because your opponent might be standing on just one leg.
In the second sequence, you’re going to be using the rear hand sweep. The reason why we sweep with the rear hand is because the right push kick is coming your way. You don’t want to sweep on the inside of your opponent’s leg because they’re going to land forward and potentially still attack you. You want to sweep the leg away from you.
From there, you throw a big right cross down the middle, followed by a big left hook to the head, and then finally, another hard low kick to complete the sequence.
3) Parry and Catch
Last but not least is the parry and catch. In this sequence, McGowan demonstrates a different type of push kick counter, or push kick defense. This time, you will parry with your rear hand.
This technique is very effective and efficient because you don’t have to drop your hands low to execute it. That means that even if the opponent doesn’t throw a push kick and instead it’s a feint, you’re still well protected with your guard.
When you parry with the right arm, you’re using your hips to sway to your left side. This means you can use your momentum to load up a powerful left hook at your opponent. After the left hook, you follow it up with a right cross, and then finish off the sequence with the low kick. You’re using a lot of hip movement and the mechanics are perfect for the big left hook after the parry. All the movements you’re using are really efficient to get as much power in each shot possible.
Another good thing about this technique is, it can actually do a little bit of damage to your opponent as well. If you’re hitting him with the point of your elbow, then it can actually hurt your opponent at the same time.
The second sequence involves catching your opponent’s left push kick. When you’re catching your opponent’s left push kick, the left hand has to drop underneath first. You don’t want to drop both hands at the same time and leave yourself open, in case your opponent fakes the push kick and wants to attack. Always try and keep one hand up
After you’ve caught the kick with the left hand, secure your opponent’s foot with your right hand on top. Now, you’ve got a nice lock on your opponent.
To complete the sequence, you now pull your opponent into your left side, then throw the big left hook again, followed by the right cross, and again with the low kick to the thigh.
The left hook doesn’t necessarily have to be thrown with real power but, because your opponent is coming towards you as you’re pulling him, all it takes is the right timing, and if you land on your opponent’s chin, it could be a gamechanger.
· When using the sweep or slap against the push kick with the lead left hand, you want to be targeting your opponent’s ankle, outside of the leg. The reason for this is because if you go high on the shin, the push kick has a chance to land on your body still.
· The objective is to take away the push kick and stop it from landing, so you also must sweep and slap with conviction.
· Once the opponent is off-balance, this is the perfect time to initiate your counters. But don’t wait, because you only have a small split-second window to pull it off.
· All of these strikes are very effective, and you want to hit with big power every time. They all carry knockout potential.
· The first shot after the sweep or slap is potentially the most damaging, so put your weight into it. If you don’t get the KO with the first shot, the follow-up strikes will still do a lot of damage.
Learn Muay Thai Sparring Drills From World Champions
If you don’t know what Muay Thai sparring drills are, or if you are looking to level up your Muay Thai sparring, consider Evolve University’s Muay Thai Training Series: Sparring Drills, an in-depth online video Training Series taught by legendary Muay Thai World Champions.
In this Training Series, beginners to Muay Thai sparring will learn how to implement fundamental techniques in sparring while advanced practitioners will learn how to strengthen their weaknesses and implement various fight strategies. No detail is spared as Evolve MMA’s Muay Thai World Champions break down sparring drills they use to sharpen their tools and prepare for fights. Learn how different sparring drills can develop specific parts of your game while improving your technique, balance, timing, and reactions.
Packed with 15 chapters of sparring drills, 3 hours of on-demand video, Evolve University’s Muay Thai Training Series: Sparring Drills is the ultimate guide to training like a World Champion.
Get Muay Thai Training Series: Sparring Drills Today!