Building up a solid game of defensive skills for both upper and lower body strikes is imperative for every Muay Thai athlete. Offense is, of course vital, but without a solid defense, you may not have as many opportunities for utilizing your offensive game. Ideally, Muay Thai athletes have a well-balanced game full of both upper and lower body offense and defense.
In terms of lower body defense, the Muay Thai check is a common tool. Not only does it protect you from a solid leg kick coming your way, but when done well, it can sometimes become an offensive move, causing damage to your opponent as they throw their kick.
It’s a fairly simple defensive skill to learn and can open up doors for many different follow-ups. As such, make sure you not only learn how to perform a check in Muay Thai, but that you also learn how to utilize the check, as well.
How Do You Perform A Check?
Before diving into utilizing the check in your Muay Thai game, it’s important to understand exactly how to check a leg kick.
- As your opponent throws a leg kick toward you, lift your leg off the ground.
- Shift all of your weight to your back leg.
- Turn your toes up and out, aligning your shin to meet the oncoming kick.
- Be sure to meet the angle straight on. If you meet their kick with the side of your calf, your opponent will kick through your leg.
- Keep your leg solid so as to avoid “flicking” your leg at your opponent’s kick and risking them kicking straight through your checking leg.
Once you have mastered how to do a check, you can begin to experiment with the various ways in which you can apply it while training in Muay Thai. Here are three ways you can use a check to capitalize and excel in Muay Thai.
1) A Quick Defensive Tool
At its core, the check is simply another great option for a quick defensive tool. As a leg kick is thrown your way, the rapid response of your leg popping straight up to block the kick will prevent you from taking damage from a solid leg kick.
Leg kicks can cause a great deal of damage, especially as they accumulate across a match. Having great defensive options to the leg kick, like a check, will keep you from having a potentially extremely sore leg.
If you are looking to build up your defensive skillsets, be sure to add in and utilize the check. It will protect you from oncoming leg kicks that could potentially cause you damage and slow you down. Add in the leg kick to your defensive arsenal and see how it aids your overall defensive game.
2) Be The Hammer
If you’ve been around martial arts for any length of time, then you have probably heard the saying, “someone is the hammer and someone is the nail.” In essence, this saying means that when two people meet, one will win the exchange (the hammer), and the other will take on the cost of losing the exchange (the nail).
Checking a kick means meeting the force of your opponent’s kick with your own shin. Very often, one of the two athletes will end up being the nail in this situation. With solid technique, a great angle at which you meet your opponent’s kick, and good balance, you can often leave your opponent feeling as though they happened to be the nail in that exchange. If you can cause damage using well-timed, well-placed, and technically sound checks, your opponent will throw fewer and fewer leg kicks simply to avoid meeting your shin again.
The key to using your check as an offensive move is to practice, practice, practice. The check has to be done with precision, and there is no better way to find that precision by practicing until you’ve really dialed it in.
3) Offensive Opportunities
While the check is clearly a defensive move, when done correctly, you will find that it opens the doors to utilize many offensive opportunities, as well. Try utilizing the check for one of these offensive counter opportunities:
- Check the kick and return with a teep utilizing the same leg. Your opponent’s kicking leg will likely not have had enough time to land back on the ground, making it an excellent opportunity to capitalize on disrupting their balance.
- Check the kick and return with a leg kick utilizing your opposite leg. The second you land the check, set your foot down and immediately return with your own leg kick.
- Check the kick and blitz in towards your opponent up the middle. Capitalize on your opponent’s foot still (likely) being off the ground to overwhelm them with strikes up the middle, causing a disruption to their base, as well as opportunities for the clinch.
As you play with the check, be sure to look for the natural and opportunistic offensive moves that appear to you. By doing this, you can easily utilize your defensive moves to create offensive moves, making for an even more well-rounded Muay Thai game.
Utilizing The Check
The check is a technique that every Muay Thai athlete should learn, perfect, and utilize in their game. It is not only a solid defensive move, making you harder to beat, but a move that tends to create many offensive opportunities, as well. Sometimes, when done extremely well, the check itself even becomes the offensive move itself!
Mastering this technique is important for protecting your legs from taking on too much damage. Leg kicks pack a ton of power and can make it very difficult for you to keep fighting. Adding the check to your list of defensive moves to counter the leg kick will give you just one more advantage over your opponent.
The next time you find yourself sparring, or even hitting a bag, be sure to not only incorporate the check but also experiment with the various ways of utilizing it in your game.
You may also like: