In Muay Thai, feints and setups are a necessary skill that all Nak Muays need in their tool belts. Practitioners learning to attack and be offensive in their game need to understand both how and why feints and setups are necessary, as well as build an arsenal full of them. Often using a combination of your basic strikes and footwork, feints and setups create the openings to strike, fake out or trick your opponent, or force your opponent to make mistakes that you can then capitalize on.
If you have not added feints and setups to your game yet, or you are unsure how to go about implementing them, this article is for you. Here is how to apply feints and setups to level up your offensive Muay Thai game.
What Are Feints And Setups?
Feints and setups are key tools for creating the openings you need to strike. Without these, it is unlikely that even the best jab or kick will land where you want it and when you want it. These tools allow you to create openings by tricking or confusing your opponent so that you can make your way through their guard and land your desired strikes.
Ensure A Good Stance
The first and most important piece to being able to utilize feints and setups is to ensure you have a good stance to build from. A solid, basic stance consists of:
- One foot ahead of the other (not too close together or far apart)
- Hands up by your face for protection
- Being light on your feet, rather than planted, to allow for good and quick movement
Once you have a good stance and the ability to move swiftly, you are ready to start using setups and feints to land your strikes.
Footwork is one of the simplest ways to lure your opponent, pressure them into mistakes, or set up your next shot. Try some of these simple footwork movements to set up your shots:
- Moving Forward: This will help you to cut the range, making new shots available to you. Add a jab as you step forward to create defensive movements from your opponent that will allow new openings for you to strike.
- Moving Backwards: Moving backward, preferably with a little bit of an angle, is an excellent way to lure or draw your opponent in towards your next strike.
- Moving Sideways: Lateral movement allows you to gain an angle on your opponent. Angles tend to set up movement from your opponent, as well as openings for striking.
- Switch Step: Switch steps allow for excellent feinting opportunities. You can switch step to feint a kick, but utilize your opponent’s reaction to throw a different strike. The switch step can also help you set up a new angle, making it a great option for setups and feints.
Mixing in a variety of footwork will help you to create diverse setups against your opponent. Be sure to try each of them with varying accompanying strikes and follow-ups to see which ones tend to help you accomplish your goals.
Utilizing Feints And Setups
Everyone loves a good feint. Not only can they be exciting to watch or pull off, but they typically create an excellent opening for striking. Feints can be a small detail, like a twitch of your hip to make your opponent think you are going to kick when you’re not, or bigger movements like a switch step.
Regardless of the utilized feint, they will elicit a reaction in your opponent, which gives you the setups you need to start your offensive work. Here are some ways to utilize feints and setups in your game:
- Jabs: To utilize your jab (or any strike) for a feint, it’s important to throw a few solid, similar strikes first. Once your opponent knows how you move for your jab, then you can utilize it for a feint. Step in to throw your jab with the same movement as before, but quickly retract it before finishing the strike. Watch how your opponent reacts and utilize their reaction to the fake jab by striking through the openings.
- Lead Hand Movement: Playing with your lead hand to distract your opponent and move their eyes and body is a fun feint to explore. Try flashing your jab hand outside your body to draw their eyes away from the center, then use that to set up your next strikes.
- Knees: Knees are great for feints. Drawing your knee up can appear to be a teep or a knee, making it a great movement for a feint. Try landing a few knees (outside the clinch) first. Then lift your knee in the same manner, but instead of driving the knee, switch it to a teep, a superman punch, or even just set it back down and throw a punch. Either way, get your opponent to bite on your knee movement to set up a great series of strikes.
- Kicks: Utilizing your kick as a feint is a great way to get your opponent to make big reactions and give you space to strike. Throw a few kicks in the same way. You can start by throwing a few similar leg kicks. Then, begin to throw the kick again, ensuring that you turn your hip and begin to throw the kick so it looks real, then pull it back once your opponent reacts. Use their reaction for setting up other strikes.
Each of your strikes can be used as a feint simply by getting your opponent to believe you are throwing a strike when you are not. Repeated use of a single strike, followed by a feint using that same strike, is a great way to create big reactions in your opponent. Reactions always create openings for setting up more effective strikes to your opponent.
Using Feints And Setups In Muay Thai
Feints and setups will become the foundation for landing your offensive strikes in Muay Thai. It is difficult to land quality strikes to your opponent if you have not first used a feint or set it up well. Learning to utilize the strikes and footwork that you already know to bait your opponent into your game, will offer you many new opportunities for striking. The next time you step on the mats, be sure to play with your various strikes and footwork to create some great feints and setups.
Distract and confuse your opponents with feints then set them up for the perfect KO like a World Champion with Evolve University’s Muay Thai Training Series: Feints And Setups!
Muay Thai is more than just learning to strike with elegance, accuracy and power. Your opponent is just as skilful as you are, so landing your strikes may be tricky. This is why every Nak Muay worth his or her salt must have an excellent understanding of feints and setups at their immediate disposal. Force your opponent to make errors and create openings in their defense for you to land that KO.
In this Training Series, Evolve MMA’s Muay Thai World Champions explain how to utilize feints successfully, as well as creating setups to create and exploit gaps in your opponent’s defenses. Our instructors cover the basics from jab setups to knee feints and advanced techniques such as elbow setups that a Muay Khao, or a fighter specializing in elbow strikes, would employ. This Training Series is a complete guide to feints and setups for practitioners at every level.
From knee feints to setups in specific Muay Thai fighting styles, there’s something for everyone. Beginners will pick up the foundation for using feints and setups in their own game, while advanced practitioners will pick up tips on using feints and setups that world-class Muay Mats (fighters who favor punches and low kicks) and Muay Femurs (fighters who typically have high fight IQ and are extremely skillful) utilize.
Whether you are a beginner or a more advanced practitioner of Muay Thai, this Training Series will give you an edge in your game. With over 4 hours of on-demand video content structured into 17 chapters, Evolve University’s Muay Thai Training Series: Feints And Setups is the ultimate guide to fighting like a Muay Thai World Champion.