One of the beautiful aspects of Muay Thai is the ability of each and every athlete to develop their own unique game. From their preferred strikes to the timing of their strikes, or how they move, defend, and respond to strikes, each fighter develops their own unique intricacies of their game.
Some fighters become technicians of the sport, utilizing a high I.Q. to pick apart their opponents, while some others prefer the Muay Mat style of aggressive, forward fighting. Each fighter picks the styles they prefer and refines their skills in their own unique way.
One way that fighters develop uniqueness is in where they prefer to fight. Some fighters naturally gravitate to fighting on the inside, while others like to maintain their distance a bit and fight more on the outside.
Regardless of where you like to fight, understanding the differences between inside and outside fighting is important for maintaining an advantage over your opponent. Once you understand fighting on the inside and outside, you’ll be able to use your knowledge to defend against various opponents, as well as set up your offensive strikes against your opponents.
What Determines Inside And Outside Fighting?
Determining the difference between inside and outside fighting is key to understanding how to leverage it to your advantage. Determining the difference between the two primarily comes down to range.
The range of your opponent, and the range at which they prefer to throw strikes, is a great place to figure out whether they are on the inside or outside. At the rudimentary level, the inside range is up close and the outside range is a little bit further away.
Here are a few quick things to look at to determine if your opponent prefers the inside or outside:
- Often prefers punches, elbows, or knees;
- Utilizes the clinch and sweeps;
- May prefer heavy pressure, and;
- Often uses head movement and footwork to be elusive while striking.
- Tend to prefer kicking and teeps;
- May prefer catching kicks and sweeping;
- Often uses head movement and footwork to be elusive with incoming strikes;
- May play or utilize a long guard, and;
- Might pick their shots more precisely.
There is clearly some overlap between inside and outside fighting, and many high-level fighters can seamlessly move between the two, but many times, fighters have one that they prefer over the other. Being able to recognize whether a fighter is currently utilizing one or the other (or both), will help you to make a game plan.
The range at which your opponent prefers to strike, be it with punching or kicking, is a great way to quickly determine whether they are fighting on the inside (close range) or outside (further away).
How To Utilize Your Understanding Of Your Opponent’s Preference
While many high-level fighters can seamlessly move between inside and outside fighting, it is often true that most people have a preferred place to fight and engage. Once you’ve figured out where your opponent wants and prefers to be, you can utilize it for both your offense and your defense.
For example, if your opponent seems to want to be on the inside, you may want to take them out of their comfort zone by utilizing teeps or leg kicks to force them to fight from the outside range instead. Conversely, if they seem to easily and readily want to use their head kicks, breaking the range and getting to the inside for punches, elbows, or the clinch will really knock them off their game and prevent them from utilizing their desired strikes.
Regardless of where they like to fight, your goal is to figure out how to make that difficult for them. Here are some more ideas for challenging their preferred space:
- If your opponent seems to play a long guard and stay on the outside, utilize footwork and head movement to get to the inside and utilize the clinch or close strikes like punches.
- If your opponent seems to have heavy forward pressure, utilize heavy leg kicks, head kicks, and teeps to back them up.
- If your opponent prefers to work to the clinch, beat them to it with heavy punches and elbows, coupled with good head movement and footwork to keep them from landing the clinch they desire.
Like anything in Muay Thai, your goal is simply to disrupt your opponent’s game and capitalize on their movements and strikes. Defensively, once you recognize where your opponent wants to fight, it’s a good idea to not allow them to have what they want.
How To Utilize Your Own Preference For Inside/Outside Fighting
Understanding your own bias toward fighting on the inside or outside range will help you to formulate a plan to execute your Muay Thai game against your opponent. If you prefer the inside range, then creating a game plan to make your way to the inside range is key. Conversely, if you prefer the outside, your game plan will need to reflect those desires, as well.
Here are a few ideas for utilizing your Muay Thai to allow you to fight at your preferred range:
- If you want to be on the inside, utilize your head movement, footwork, and defenses to get around your opponent’s leg strikes and make your way to the inside.
- If you prefer to be on the outside, ensure that you are active with your teeps to keep your opponent further away so you can utilize your preferred kicks.
Regardless of where your opponent likes to fight, it’s important to make a game plan and utilize all of your Muay Thai skills to keep the match at the range you prefer, rather than your opponent.
Understanding The Inside And Outside Range
Regardless of where you like to fight, being able to recognize where your opponent hopes to be is a key aspect of dominating the match. Stopping your opponent from maintaining their preferred range, as well as creating opportunities for you to keep your preferred range, will help you to dominate your next match.
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