How To Utilize The Muay Thai Sidekick

How To Utilize The Muay Thai Sidekick
Muay Thai Friday

The traditional sidekick that you see in combat sports such as karate and taekwondo has very limited applications in Muay Thai. Simply put, the rhythm, distance, and style of fighting don’t suit this weapon except in the most specific of circumstances. There is, however, a variation of the sidekick that has been developed for the Muay Thai arena. This “Muay Thai sidekick” blends aspects of the common, defensive teep with the traditional sidekick.

In this article we are going to break down this unique strike, drawing on the example set by ONE World Muay Thai Champion, Tawanchai PK Saenchai, in his recent title defense against Superbon last January. Using this fight as a case study, we will explain what the Muay Thai sidekick is, how it is utilized in the ring, and what its benefits are when compared to the traditional teep which is already a staple weapon in every Nak Muay’s arsenal. Then, finally, we’ll note some of the specific points of performance that the champion used to repetitively land this kick on Superbon throughout the fight.


What Is The Muay Thai Sidekick?

Tawanchai provides us with a phenomenal example of the Muay Thai sidekick in this fight from January of this year.

As you can see the Muay Thai sidekick is a blend of the traditional teep and a taekwondo sidekick. When throwing this weapon, Tawanchai pushes his weight onto his back leg, posturing onto it as if he was throwing a defensive teep. But, instead of waiting for Superbon to walk into teeping range, he slides forward, skimming his rear foot low across the canvas to close the gap between them as he extends his lead leg.

As he lifts his lead leg he rotates his hip, turning it over alongside his body so that his shoulder is pointing towards his opponent. He leans back slightly for balance and when his foot lands, the ball of his foot connects with Superbon’s lead side hip or ribs, rather than his center.


How Is The Sidekick Different From The Teep?

There are many key similarities between the teep and Muay Thai sidekick and, in defensive situations, the two strikes can often be used interchangeably to confuse your opponent but, that being said, there are still some key differences between these foot strikes. The main difference is the slide that you can see Tawanchai use to close the distance between himself and Superbon when he throws it.

Unlike the traditional lead leg teep which primarily aims to stop an aggressive opponent from stepping into range, this slide means that the Muay Thai sidekick can be used offensively as you close the space between you and your opponent. This forward movement usually makes the sidekick stronger than the teep because the momentum of your slide carries all of your weight behind the kick.

This slide, coupled with the sideward rotation of your hip as you throw the shot also gives the sidekick more range than the teep, making it difficult to anticipate the range of the strike. This makes it difficult for any opponent to predict what range they need to be standing in order to defend it and you can see that Superbon rarely, if ever, is able to defend this kick.

Also, the sideward rotation of your foot in this strike makes it difficult for an opponent to catch, even if they do manage to step back to the correct range. Traditionally, the basic defense against a teep is to catch it by scooping an opponent’s heel up into the palm of your glove. The changed foot position makes this difficult, especially if you are expecting a standard teep, and as you can see in the fight, Superbon has a lot of trouble defending this strike whether Tawanchai throws it offensively or defensively.


When To Utilise The Muay Thai Sidekick

The Muay Thai sidekick can be used both offensively, as you move forward, or defensively to disrupt your opponent’s balance and rhythm as they move into range. That being said, under traditional stadium rules a sidekick, like a teep, is a conditionally scoring technique. Meaning, that it only has an impact on the scorecards if it clearly affects your opponent’s balance and body position. Therefore, when using this weapon defensively, you need timing and accuracy to unbalance your opponent and make this weapon score otherwise, you need to make sure to follow up with a scoring strike.

Alternatively, the aggressive nature of the sidekick gives you the opportunity to push an evasive opponent backward into the corner or onto the ropes. Therefore, the sidekick won’t necessarily win you a round, but it will help you put your opponent in a bad position where you can inflict damaging strikes on them.


Points Of Performance

We can note several key aspects of Tawanchai’s impressive Muay Thai sidekick, which you should aim to replicate when you attempt to use it for yourself. In this video above, you will notice:


1) He Places All Of His Weight Onto His Back Foot Before Sliding Forward

This allows him to keep his balance when he throws the kick and ensures he doesn’t fall heavily onto his front leg after it lands, or if he misses. You’ll also notice that he leans back slightly as he extends the kick to help keep himself postured onto his back leg.


2) He Stays Connected To The Canvas When He Slides Forward

It is important to make sure you slide, rather than hop towards your opponent when throwing this strike. Tawanchai slides directly at his opponent because it is faster, more powerful, and harder to see coming. If he were to hop, some of his power would be wasted on the upward movement whilst it would also slow the kick and make it easier for his opponent to see it coming.


3) He Rotates His Whole Body Into The Kick

Often you will see that Tawanchai’s hip and shoulder are rotated completely so he is side-on to his opponent when the kick lands. He isn’t just rotating his leg. This rotation is what gives the Muay Thai sidekick its extra range whilst also changing the foot position, making it harder to catch.



The Muay Thai sidekick is similar to the traditional lead leg teep but carries more power and range. By studying Tawanchai’s impressive performance against Superbon we can see that this strike is highly versatile and can be used both offensively and defensively to control the pace and range of a fight. While the versatility of this kick makes it extremely useful in the ring, it is a unique movement that you need to practice meticulously if you are going to pull it off.


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