Learning any skill, particularly a combat art, can be a daunting task, but don´t you worry: if you’re looking to learn Muay Thai at home, you’ve come to the right place! As a former hand-to-hand combative instructor to paratroopers in the US Army, I understand better than most the importance of efficient, easy-to-follow instructions when it comes to progressing your knowledge of the unarmed combat and furthering your progression as a Martial Artist. I’ve compiled some of the best videos and resources for remote learning of the highly-effective style of Muay Thai (a staple in modern Army combative), and without further ado let’s get down to the nitty-gritty, shall we?
Before we go any further, I must tell you that no video or online training course will be as effective as in-person training with an instructor or coach. Unlike other Martial Arts like Karate or Wing Chun, there aren’t any katas or forms in Muay Thai designed to advance progression on your own. This style was developed for a single purpose, and that’s unarmed combat.
To truly test your abilities you need a partner to spar against, but fret not my martial comrades: you can still achieve a solid grasp of the basics through training Muay Thai at home, and the more thoroughly you understand the basics of a system the better off you’ll be in the long run. So let’s put on our shorts and wrap up our fists, it’s time to learn Muay Thai!
Dictionary.com defines stance as “the way in which someone stands, especially when deliberately adopted (as in sports).” The way you stand as you train Muay Thai at home is paramount to your success and progression in the style. Your stance determines balance, movement, and how you’ll throw and defend against strikes. A thorough understanding and mastery of your fighting stance is the base upon which every technique is built, so make sure you have a good one!
Watch and study where the fighter places his feet, how he holds his hands, and tucks his chin. One of the benefits of video learning is you can pause and rewind at any time, so take all the time you need to get comfortable with the Muay Thai stance before moving on.
Movement and Footwork
Feeling warm and fuzzy about your stance? Good! Your first major test is going to be how well you move. For the record, I really, really like this guy´s video. He crams a lot of information into a relatively short time frame, but remember you can pause and rewind to repeat a block of instructions.
Movement should take a high spot on your list of priorities as you train Muay Thai at home, as it is not only one of the easier facets of Muay Thai to practice in a small space without equipment but also helps you dodge and set up strikes and counter-strikes. Make sure to practice movement drills before every workout! It’s a good workout and activates a lot of the muscles you’re going to be using later.
An entire section dedicated to the jab? What! It may seem excessive, but trust me, the importance of this uncomplicated technique can not be emphasized enough! A good jab helps you to determine your distance from your opponent, cut their eyebrow, and set up combinations for truly devastating techniques. Just as mastering your stance leads to excellence in footwork, all other strikes and combinations will benefit greatly from your understanding and proficiency of this simple punch.
The cross is a gnarly punch that can easily floor an opponent, and it’s the coup de grâce of a one-two combo (‘One’ being the jab. Didn´t I tell you that punch was gonna come in handy?) Note how North American champion Mike Zhang emphasizes keeping your chin tucked and bringing the jab back to protect his face before launching his cross. Always keep up your defenses! Make sure you make that a habit as you train Muay Thai at home. You don’t want to get caught by a counter if you square off against an opponent!
You can’t watch a highlight reel of knockouts and not see the hook time and time again, so it’s definitely something you’re gonna want to practice as you train Muay Thai at home! It’s a powerful punch that you can really put your entire body into, so make sure you keep that wrist straight or you’ll be more likely to break one of your bones instead of your opponent’s!
Remember back when we were learning how to stand, and there was a lot of emphasis on keeping your chin tucked in to protect your jaw from a knockout blow? There’s a chance your opponent’s going to do the same.
You can still land that finishing strike, but first, we have to make them lift their head, and we can do this by hitting ‘em with a hard uppercut! Though far more common in traditional boxing, the uppercut is never-the-less a great weapon to have in your arsenal and one you’ll want to incorporate in your at-home Muay Thai training.
One of the simplest, most effective elements of Muay Thai is the elbow strikes. A good elbow can shatter bones and knock people unconscious, and even a glancing strike can open nasty gashes that bleed like faucets. As professional fighter Sean Fagan demonstrates in the video below, elbows are as versatile as they are lethal, but only if you throw them correctly.
He references footwork and defense too: if you’re close enough to land an elbow, so’s your opponent. Make sure you’re stance isn’t getting sloppy and your movement’s on point! There are six techniques shown in this video, so pause and rewind as necessary to retain all the information.
Knees are like the hammers of your body; they’ll crush whatever they hit! Useful at long or close range, they’re easy to practice as you train Muay Thai at home.
The video I found for knee strikes is particularly useful in that it not only demonstrates how to throw the techniques but includes footage of their use in the ring. As if you needed any more proof of Muay Thai’s efficiency!
The teep is one of the more underrated techniques in Muay Thai. This kick can gauge distance, create distance, disrupt your opponent’s kick, and lead to a knockout if you manage to land one in the face. It’s not flashy, but it’s effective; make good use of it while you train Muay Thai at home!
If your knees are hammers, your shins are baseball bats! Few techniques are as synonymous with a martial art as the roundhouse is to Muay Thai, and for good reason. Thai fighters have shins like iron, and they use them to bruise thighs, crack ribs, and shatter jaws. Make good use of this kick in your training!
Blocks and Counters
You’re not the only person with access to YouTube, so there’s always the chance that should you ever need to use these techniques your opponent knows them as well. Don’t neglect to study blocks and counters as you train Muay Thai at home; remember, the defense is just as crucial to victory as the offense, and you should be well-versed in both!
Clinch and Sweeps
Unlike Western boxing where fighters are separated when they clinch, a good portion of techniques in Muay Thai originates from this position. Hooks, elbows, knees, sweeps, and trips are all commonly seen when two fighters grab hold of one another.
You will need a partner to properly practice the clinch, but if you don’t have one there’s no need to worry. You can still go through the motions against an invisible opponent and get the mechanics down!
As mentioned before, there are no katas or forms in Muay Thai, but even professional fighters and coaches recognize the need to practice footwork and techniques when there aren’t any training partners or equipment available, and that’s where shadow boxing, ie fighting an imaginary opponent, comes into play. Follow along with this video for a good idea of how shadow boxing should be done!
Nothing beats the in-person guidance of a certified coach, but not even the best instructor can make a champion out of a lazy student. The fact that you’re even reading this article is proof of your willingness and ability to take the initiative to learn, and for that, you should be proud.
The videos here are great starting points, but they’re definitely not the only ones online! Research, learn study, and drill. It doesn’t matter how you gain the knowledge, only that you take it seriously and apply it accordingly. Coach or no coach, if you have access to the internet you can learn practically anything, and that includes Muay Thai.