There are always new things to be learned in the world of martial arts. While there are, of course, a handful of basic, fundamental movements and techniques that all Muay Thai athletes learn in the beginning, there are infinite ways to utilize those moves in various ways to really help level up your game.
As you develop as a Muay Thai athlete and striker, you will find that you naturally gravitate to certain techniques or a certain way of applying certain techniques. Your style as a fighter might even play a role in the types of techniques and movements you choose to utilize.
Regardless of the type of flair or application that you may choose for these, here are three essential techniques for you to explore that will help level up your striking game.
1) Check Hook
While it’s not often that you want to allow your opponent to back you up, sometimes, it inevitably happens. The check hook is ideal for allowing you the opportunity to not only back up and make some space for yourself, but also to land a strike at the same time. The ability to strike while moving backward is an important skill that will help you maintain some control, even in the event of being put on your heels.
How To Perform A Check Hook
- As your opponent presses into you, step your rear leg back first.
- As you step your foot back, simultaneously throw your hook to stop your opponent’s pressure.
- From here, you can cut the angle, follow up with more strikes, or even step back in with a blitz toward your opponent.
Having a check hook in your arsenal will give you some room to play when you feel like you are being heavily pressured. It will open up doors for other strikes as you force your opponent to slow down or cover to protect themselves from the hook coming at them while they are moving forward with pressure.
Because the check hook so often comes as a surprise to someone who is rushing and pressuring in with strikes, it will tend to catch them off guard. This will provide you with plenty of opportunities for follow-up strikes and movement.
2) Question Mark Kick
This elusive kick packs a ton of power and is unquestionably easy for your opponent to misread. It is great for distracting your opponent by faking to land a kick to the belly, which tends to draw their hands down and then land a solid head kick instead.
If you notice that your opponent is especially reactive with their hands when you strike, this kick is ideal because it baits their weakness. This is also a great kick when your opponent is much taller than you, as you can draw their hands out of the way and clear space to get your kick up over the shoulder.
How To Perform The Question Mark Kick
- When facing your opponent, pick up your back leg as though you were going to throw a push kick or front kick towards their stomach.
- Once you “fake” this kick, whip your leg around the outside of your opponent’s body to throw a round kick over the shoulder and to their head.
- Leaning your body and head back as you shift your weight to your back foot will allow you to keep your balance, help you lift your leg higher to the head, and keep your head out of the range of any oncoming strikes.
- The motion of this kick should simulate the look of a “question mark.”
If you enjoy playing with elusive techniques, be sure to give the question mark kick a try. Additionally, the next time you compete against someone with some height on you, be sure to use this kick as bait to get their hands to drop and give you a clear shot to their head.
3) Sweeps, Sweeps, And More Sweeps
There’s nothing quite like a beautifully planned and well-executed sweep. While a sweep isn’t technically a strike, it does have a significant effect on your opponent, much in the same way as a strike, as they often land straight on the ground in an abrupt nature.
There are an enormous amount of sweeps to be utilized in Muay Thai. Start with one, master it, and keep adding to your arsenal until you have a solid foundation for sweeps from all sorts of positions and angles.
While this article will not cover any particular sweep (of the many out there), there are some general fundamentals for making sweeps happen. If you can understand the fundamentals, you can explore to find your own sweeps.
How To Perform A Sweep
- You need to get your opponent off-balance. This can mean capitalizing on catching a kick or executing the sweep while they happen to be on one leg.
- You need to get your opponent light. Once your opponent is off-balance, this can be done with a small push, a small lift under the arm pit, or even a lifting motion with your sweeping leg to the back of their legs/glutes.
- You need to find the correct sweeping angle. If both of your opponent’s legs are on the ground, you’d need to push them into the open space, not into their own legs (where their base is strong). Finding the correct angle will give you leverage to sweep easily.
Using these three ideas, you will quickly be able to find sweeps on your own. As your opponent hits the ground, you will display dominance in the ring. The impact of their body to the ground will slow them down and exhaust them as well, giving you the upper hand.
Understanding the fundamentals of sweeps is ideal because there are so many options that it would be nearly impossible to list them all. Grab a good understanding of what you are trying to accomplish when you do a sweep, and soon you’ll start seeing sweeping opportunities everywhere.
Three Excellent Techniques
Adding these three techniques to your arsenal will immediately up your striking game. By giving you options for striking while moving backward, landing elusive strikes, or even utilizing the ground to strike, you will certainly level up your Muay Thai game with these three techniques.
If you would like to learn more striking techniques, check out Evolve University’s Master Courses today!