Parrying is a defensive movement used in combat sports to deflect strikes so they don’t connect with their target. Parrying is generally viewed to be more effective than blocking strikes since you take less damage whenever you successfully parry a strike. Parrying a strike also puts you in a perfect position to fire off a hard counter. Your opponent’s balance is often thrown off whenever you successfully parry one of their strikes, giving you a short window to exploit with counters.
However, parrying is a double-edged sword since it can leave you open when done lazily. Muay Thai fighters often throw probing strikes just to see how an opponent reacts. If you parry a strike halfheartedly, you might find yourself getting caught with a big shot before you even have a chance to throw a counter. For example, Muay Thai fighters often throw jabs to get opponents to parry, then follow up with a lead hook. Since their opponent’s arm has already been extended, they don’t have enough time to bring it back to protect the side of their head.
Some tips you should keep in mind when parrying strikes include:
- Wait for the strike to come to you. Don’t reach for it
- Generally speaking, always parry using your arm on the same side the strike is coming from. Using the wrong hand keeps you vulnerable to counters. However, there are some situations where you don’t need to follow this rule
- Use the hardest part of your hand to parry. The bottom of your hand where it meets your wrists
Five Effective Counters You can Throw After Successfully Parrying Strikes
Now that we’ve gone over how parrying works, let’s jump right into our list of counters you can launch right after parrying a strike:
1) Jab Parry, Cross
There’s no question about it, you’re going to be dealing with jabs a lot if you train in combat sports like Muay Thai. The jab is the safest punch you can throw, so fighters often use it to feel out their opponents. However, you can use that to your advantage by successfully parrying an opponent’s jab and using it to set up a more powerful cross.
Here’s what the sequence looks like:
- Parry your opponent’s jab as it heads toward your face by pushing it downward and diagonally toward the centerline. This turns your opponent’s body, leaving the left side of their face exposed to your counters. The left side of the face is typically protected by the left hand when a fighter uses an orthodox stance, so parrying their punch leaves them defenseless
- Immediately follow up with a hard cross using the same hand you parried with. When done correctly, the punch should land clean
The teep is one of the most used kicks in Muay Thai, so you definitely need to learn how to defend against it. The teep is kicking’s version of a jab. It’s used for similar reasons, to gauge and maintain distances, and to prevent opponents from crowding you. It’s an extremely effective kicking technique, which is why so many Muay Thai fighters love throwing it.
To parry and counter a rear leg teep:
- Parry the teep with your rear hand by smacking it to the outside while simultaneously skipping to your left side. This puts you in a perfect position to fire off a low kick or roundhouse to the head
- Another effective way to parry the teep is by taking a step back and parrying with your lead hand. As you’re the kick out, step out with your left foot, and rotate your hips, shoulder, and rear foot. Doing so will cause an imbalance to your opponent’s stance, allowing for the perfect chance to slip in a cross and kick counter.
To parry and counter off a lead leg teep:
- Parry the teep with your lead hand, driving it to the outside, and simultaneously take a sidestep in the opposite direction to create a better angle for your counter and fire off a hard low kick. Besides creating a better angle for your counter, the sidestep also serves as insurance in case your parry misses. It ensures you’re out of the kick’s way
- You can also counter with a roundhouse kick if you prefer. You simply parry while sidestepping as we illustrated for the first example, but instead of throwing a low kick, you swing your lead leg backward while pivoting off your rear foot so you’re in the opposite stance and in position to throw a roundhouse kick to the head
3) Kick Parry, Jab-Cross Combo
Here’s a simple yet effective Muay Thai combination you can catch fighters at all levels with. It starts with you parrying a teep and following up with a basic jab-cross combination. It might not seem like much, but you can really stun an opponent with the punch combination since you throw them while your opponent is still looking to regain their balance.
Here’s what it looks like:
- Parry the teep by swinging your lead arm with a circular motion to the outside. This leaves your opponent in a compromised position as they try to regain their balance and bring their leg back to their stance
- Immediately follow up with a jab-cross combination. You ideally want to land both punches before your opponent regains their stance. The jab should be thrown as fast as possible since it’s mainly thrown to distract your opponent. The cross should be thrown with full power since there’s a good chance you can score a knockdown – at a minimum – if it connects
4) Jab Parry, Low Kick
Here’s another parry and counter combination you want to add to your Muay Thai arsenal. It’s an effective way to set up low kicks and discourage opponents from pumping their jab all night.
To perform this combination:
- Parry your opponent’s jab by swinging your rear hand inside. This knocks off your opponent’s balance and opens up a low kick
- Capitalize on the opportunity and fire off a low kick. You can follow up the low kick with a jab-cross combination to further punish your opponent
5) Cross Parry, Low Kick
The cross is the most dangerous straight punch used in Muay Thai, so it’s essential to learn how to defend against it. Many people make the mistake of thinking a cross isn’t that powerful because it’s a straight punch, which is a big mistake. Just watch some professional fighters throw crosses at heavy bags if you think these punches don’t land with considerable power.
Here’s what this combination looks like:
- Parry your opponent’s cross by swinging your lead hand inside so it misses its target
- Fire off a low kick while your opponent tries to regain their balance and follow up with a left hook since their right hand might not yet be back in their guard
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