4 Muay Thai Catch And Counter Techniques You Should Be Drilling

4 Muay Thai Catch And Counter Techniques You Should Be Drilling
Muay Thai Tuesday

Catching a kick is a staple technique in Muay Thai. If you aren’t able to catch Muay Thai’s most common attack and turn it against your opponent, then you’re going to be at a huge disadvantage on the judge’s scorecards. Many fighters, particularly those who favor a Muay Tae or Muay Femur style, build their game plan around the body kick. Not only do they specialize in catching kicks but also in being able to land their own kicks without being caught with high-scoring counters.

It is because of this that catch and counter drills should be a part of every serious Nak Muay or Muay Yings regular training. If you are struggling with this important aspect of your Muay Thai game, or simply want to brush up on these skills then these 4 great drills are sure to help you.


1) Kick And Catch Tennis

When it comes to catching kicks and countering, this drill is both one of the most basic and the most important to master. The premise is simple; you enter a competitive sparring rally where you are only allowed to attack by roundhouse kicking your opponent’s body and you can only defend by catching and throwing their kicks. The winner of the rally is the last person to land a body kick without a pause in the exchange.

The simple premise forces you to focus on the basics of these key techniques. Being able to kick and maintain balance when your leg is caught and successfully counter an attack after your leg is thrown is a key Muay Thai skill. So is being able to catch a kick while stepping away from the strike and throwing it to get your opponent off balance. This drill forces you to develop both.

Once you’ve mastered the basics you can add techniques to the drill. You can add sweeps and knee guard defenses to your allowed techniques as a way to practice more advanced skills in a competitive yet controlled environment.


2) Knee Guard vs Sweep

The above video is a beautiful example of the knee-guard defense against a caught kick in action.

There are few techniques that score more than sweeping an opponent after you catch their kick, therefore it’s imperative that you’re able to defend against the sweep in the event that your kick is caught. Though this is used in a match, it is also a great partnered drill that gives you the opportunity to practice both skills simultaneously.

One partner will throw a body kick for their opponent to catch and once caught, each partner will battle it out to either sweep their kicking opponent or block the sweep attempt via a knee guard. The winner will be the person who is successful in their attempt.

Whilst this drill can be highly competitive it is important to start slow and warm up into fast-paced rounds. When you first start this drill, the person who has caught the kick will pause for a count of two before attempting their sweep, giving their opponent a chance to lock on a successful knee guard. Once both partners become consistently successful at bracing the knee guard on the two counts, decrease their time to a count of one.

Once they are successfully in knee-guarding, it is time to get competitive and each partner will attempt to either sweep or knee-guard right away to give each other live practice at performing each skill under pressure.


3) Catch And Pull Counters

If you are losing in the catch-and-throw exchanges, struggling to pull off your sweeps, or simply want to mix things up to keep your opponent guessing your next move, catch-and-pull counters are a great addition to your Muay Thai game.

These pull variations are handy if you want to end a kick exchange with a powerful strike but also bring your opponent into clinching range. There are two key catch and pull counters that you can easily incorporate into your Muay Thai game, the pull-knee and pull-elbow and both begin with the same catching technique.

Begin by catching your opponent’s kick tightly under your armpit so that they can’t pull their leg free. Then step back, pulling your opponent towards you until you see them hop, indicating that they are off balance. Then, step back with your rear leg whilst pulling them into you and letting go of their leg so that they fall directly into you. As they fall, stab them into the belly pad with a massive rear knee or slice the hand pad with a powerful upper-cut elbow.


4) Perfect Your Sweeps

The catch and sweep is the quintessential counter to a Muay Thai body kick. It’s a staple technique that is so common in the ring that it is usually the first counter that comes to mind when a fighter catches a kick.

There is a huge range of sweeps that you can choose from after catching a kick and while it might be tempting to practice all of them at once, it’s best to start by drilling the simplest option to perfection before trying to dazzle the crowd with advanced, showboating techniques.

This sweep, demonstrated by Muay Thai World Champion, Nong-O Hama, is a tried and tested Muay Thai staple that you should master before moving on to more complex variations.


In Summary

Catching kicks is a staple Muay Thai defensive technique that is taught to just about every beginner when they start out in their gym. Being able to capitalize on this by countering with your own scoring strike is important, especially because a kick caught on the ribs will still technically score in stadium Muay Thai.

Because the catch and counter is so prolific across all levels of the sport it is important to master these fundamental catch and counter techniques so that you can always get the last say in a rallying body kick exchange.


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