Muay Thai is widely accepted as the most effective striking-based martial art, and it’s also one of the most fun to train in. You get to use your hands, feet, knees, and elbows as weapons while learning how to defend against all of those strikes. You also learn how to manipulate bodies in clinch positions and throw or sweep them to the ground, or unload knees and elbows.
Knockouts are one of the most entertaining aspects of Muay Thai since they can change the outcome of a fight in the blink of an eye. It’s caused by hitting someone so hard that their brain swishes around in their skull, leading to a momentary loss of consciousness.
Knockouts typically aren’t the result of throwing single strikes, even though they can be. Most Muay Thai fighters are adept at defending themselves, so you often have to put a few strikes together to land that massive blow that puts your opponent to sleep.
Six Muay Thai Knockout Combos You Should Add To Your Fighting Arsenal
Ready to learn some brutal combinations that can be effective inside the ring or in self-defense situations? Let’s jump right into our list:
1) Jab-Lead Roundhouse (Switch Kick)
The jab-lead roundhouse is one of the first combinations new Muay Thai students learn, but it’s effective at all levels of the sport. It is a little bit more challenging than the jab-roundhouse which feels a lot more natural to throw, but it’s worth taking the time to master this combination.
The goal of throwing a jab at the start of this combination isn’t to score points or gauge distance. Its purpose is to get your opponent to bring their arm forward to parry it and to hide the kick coming behind it.
To perform the technique:
- Soften your opponent up with a few jab-roundhouse to the body and leg combinations to get them to start anticipating those attacks.
- Throw a jab three-quarter of the way. Your jab has done its job once your opponent’s arm starts coming forward.
- Fire off a lead roundhouse/switch kick to the head with your lead leg. When done properly, your opponent shouldn’t see the kick until it’s too late.
2) Jab-Overhand Right–Lead Hook
Here’s another simple combination that can be extremely effective inside the ring. It also starts with the jab, which is used to gauge your opponent’s reaction. You might not get a knockout the first time you throw this combination, but if you pay attention to your opponent’s reaction, you probably will at some point. Watch what they do when you throw your jab. Do they block, parry, or slip in one direction? You can then use that knowledge to your advantage the next time you throw the combo.
To perform the jab-overhand-lead hook combo:
- Set it up with a jab and follow up with an overhand right. Your opponent reacting to the jab by parrying or slipping towards your rear hand sets them up for the overhand right.
- The overhand, in turn, sets them up for the left hook that follows. If you don’t score a knockout after throwing this combination a few times, modify your punch selection based on your opponent’s reaction.
3) Hook-Low Kick
Here’s one of kickboxing legend Ernesto Hoost’s favorite combinations. It is highly effective and works at the highest levels. Hooks are some of the more powerful punches you can throw during a fight, and it typically leads to your opponent shifting their weight to their lead foot as they try to evade them. This creates an excellent opportunity to fire off a low kick.
Here’s how to throw the combination:
- Use your jab to ensure you’re in the proper range before firing off a hook. There’s a good chance your opponent will shift their weight to their lead foot as they try to evade your hook.
- Follow up with a hard low kick. Put everything you have into it by pushing your hips into the kick and pivoting your lead foot.
4) Jab-Spinning Back Fist
Here’s one of the more advanced combinations on our list, but it’s one of the simplest ways to set up a spinning back fist correctly. If you watch videos of spinning back fists being used in Muay Thai or mixed martial arts, you’ll quickly notice it’s most effective when set up properly.
Here’s how to execute this technique:
- Fire a jab to your opponent’s body to get them to bring their guard down. Use the opportunity to place your feet in position to throw the spinning back fist.
- Start spinning once your feet are in position to catch your opponent off-guard with the spinning back first.
5) Jab-Cross-Hook Combination
This punch combination is quite popular with Muay Thai fighters and boxers alike. The first two punches are thrown to get your opponent to raise their guard so focus more on speed than power. The knockout blow is the hook to the liver that will momentarily paralyze your opponent’s body if it connects with the target.
To execute the technique:
- Keep your opponent occupied by throwing the jabs or jab-cross combination. This gets your opponent to think you’re headhunting.
- Throw a few more jab-cross combinations to get your opponent to start anticipating them, then throw another that is followed by a hook to the liver.
- Use the straight punches as an opportunity to step in close with your opponent so they’re in range of your hooks. When done properly, your opponent won’t even see the liver shot coming.
6) Jab-Cross-Roundhouse Kick
The jab-cross roundhouse is one of the simplest combinations used in Muay Thai, and it’s an effective way to set up roundhouse kicks to the body and head. Your jab and cross are your two safest straight weapons, and a well-executed cross prevents your opponent from seeing kicks thrown with your rear leg.
You can mix up the targets of the jab and cross. It doesn’t matter if you aim for the head or body. Aiming for the head with your straight punches opens up the roundhouse kick to the body while aiming for the body sets up a head kick.
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