Muay Thai stance draws the attention of untrained individuals. It is one of the greatest trademarks of ancient Siamese martial art.
The majority of other martial arts recommend keeping elbows tucked against the ribs. Yet, Muay Thai is famous for “weird” arm position, keeping your front foot on its balls, and defending strikes pretty much far away from your head. You can instantly recognize Muay Thai expert by his stanza.
I will guide you through detailed analysis of the Muay Thai stance. You will learn many new parameters that will help you determine your possibilities in the split of a second.
Muay Thai Stance and Techniques
First of all, I must warn you – there are minor similarities between generic kickboxing and Muay Thai stance, especially when a Thai boxer defends from an endless barrage of punches. But as soon as fighters start landing long-range shots, you’ll notice differences.
Let me analyze the traditional stance first. Follow these simple steps to assume the correct position:
- Step with your weaker (lead) leg forward. The distance between your leading lead and rear foot should be around 40-50 cm, depending on the length of your legs.
- Your lead foot is pointed forward. Now pay attention to your rear leg – I recommend you point your rear foot at a 65 to 85-degree angle away from you, depending on your style. A 90-degree angle is ok too but it leads to slower movement.
- Slightly bend both knees, shifting the weight to your rear leg, keeping your front foot on its balls.
- To assume the correct guard, raise your arms until the center of your fists is lined with your eyebrows. You can keep your fists higher too, especially if you prefer catching kicks.
- Pull your elbows close to the body, but don’t touch your ribs (the distance should be 10 centimeters or more, unless when you’re covering up).
- Arch your back outwards and turn yourself into a smaller target (if you’re a defensive-minded fighter, you don’t have to do this, but remember – Muay Thai doesn’t favor retreating).
Few aspects make Muay Thai stance way different than other martial arts. It offers many new construction options, but gives you a hard time when covering up or landing boxing combinations.
Higher Guard Then Normal
This kind of approach is very beneficial when you’re trying to survive the onslaught, but it slows you down during combos. Also, when you wear Muay Thai gloves, a traditional stance obstructs your vision. Yet, a high guard serves as an automatic shield from high kicks and long-range punches.
Muay Thai doesn’t encourage a lot of backward movement and evasion, but very good Thai boxers are ready to switch to tactical fighting when necessary.
Thai boxer blocks the majority of the attacks with his forearms, which means you’ll have to harden this part of your body before taking part in the competition. Body kicks are usually blocked via catching legs, tucking elbows, or raising knees; while a low kick is parried in two ways – shin-to-shin or step-drag backward (step back is rare).
But when it comes to the striking aspect of the game, a high guard is very beneficial. Here is the list of easy-to-perform techniques from this position:
- Straight knee – an excellent way to defend takedowns in MMA, plus it makes checking low kicks easier.
- Teep kick – stopping the aggressive opponent has never been easier.
- Elbows – for example, you can land elbows from a kickboxing stance too, but you’ll be very slow. Muay Thai high guard enables delivering spear and horizontal elbows at a high rate of speed, even as counters.
- Front kick – I hope you watched UFC 126 bout between Anderson Silva and Vitor Belfort.
Arched Back + Weight On Your Rear Foot
Many striking martial arts favor slouching, but arching your back in Muay Thai allows some countering options too. The arched back will turn you into a powerful uppercut striker (and opens you for a powerful uppercut elbow too). It is also good for 1-2 straight punch combos.
Muay Thai fighters are very successful in landing straight punches thanks to the arched back. Yet, this affects negatively hook quickness and power. Weight on your rear foot reflects positively on defending low kicks. When I say low kick, I mean all kinds of strikes to the leg.
There is another benefit of shifting weight to your rear foot – more power in your front roundhouse kick to the head or body. Here’s a downside – the strike is slower, so the opponent will evade or catch your kick easier.
Some Muay Thai ring warriors bounce a lot during their fights, but it’s all about the rhythm. Bouncing fighters are usually masters of counterstrikes and combos. When you see this, be ready for a different fighting style.
In Muay Thai, this helps pace the ring warrior as the match goes into the later rounds. When it comes to striking, bouncing fighters are usually more explosive and faster. It positively affects landing clean strikes and collecting points.
Training Tips For Beginners
Training Muay Thai stance is hard, but I think the mirror is going to be your new best friend. Please train in front of a mirror, pay attention to these tiny details, and return to the PROPER STANCE every time after your finish strike or combo.
- If you can keep your feet shoulder-width apart, it’d be awesome. Your movement will be better, which leads to a positive effect on attacking and defending.
- Beginners should tuck elbows to the chest and ribs. Yeah, I know that traditional Thai stance demands keeping your elbows higher. But you’ll modify the guard later, first learn to cover up. Everything else will be an ordinary routine as time goes by.
- Tuck your chin. A skillful fighter knows to duck chin blows, but a beginner could get knocked out easily. Pretend you have a wallet underneath your chin, my fellow ring warriors.
- Keep your stronger hand/foot back. Hip rotation will be better, which adds more power to your strikes. You can switch stances to confuse the opponent later but first, study your dominant guard well.
- Flat feet are no, no, no! Guys, stay light and always keep your heels off the ground because flat feet are going to slow down your movement. You can be the greatest cardio machine in the world, but if you’re too slow, you’ll eat unnecessary shots and lose the bout via judges’ scorecards or decisions.
- Don’t rotate your leading foot to the inside, stay square to your foe. This allows better blocking (different compared to other martial arts). When you cover up, rotations are prohibited too. Please perform very light sparring with your partner and get to know this routine, it will help you later.
Advanced Techniques And Tactics
This is my favorite part, stance modifications. Sometimes you’ll have to sacrifice “correct technique” for more power.
If you’d like to throw some long-range kicking techniques, I recommend you to lower your guard. This rule applies to switch kicks, scissor kicks, an axe kick, and Brazilian kicks.
Entertaining kicks demand additional bending in your knees for more power. Remember this every time you intend to perform a spinning back kick, spinning heel kick, or a tornado kick.
The front sidekick is also more powerful when you bend knees, but I recommend you to turn your leading leg to the inside too because it will add more power to it.
Counterpunches are easier if you modify your guard. Spread your legs a bit more and keep your arms closer to your chest but please stay light on your feet.
My recommendation for combo experts is to feint more and to keep fists slightly under the level of eyes. A successful feint leads to better level change and collecting more points.
If you’re a clinch expert, low kick phenom, or master of straight punches, a traditional Muay Thai stance will work perfectly for you.
And here’s the final modification – hooks and overhands. As well as you know, the hook is the most powerful strike, and it demands extra hip rotation. I know this is against Muay Thai rules, but please rotate your leading leg to the inside for rear hook or to the outside for lead hook – it turns your “punch” into a “knockout powerhouse punch”.
Traditional Muay Thai stance is most often among Thai boxers, but there are differences from dojo to dojo. Some fighters stay away from the clinch and low kicks thanks to their different fighting style and guard.
Beginners might have a hard time eating powerful shots, while an experienced ring warrior might have unusual trademark technique, for example, flying knee or spinning heel kick. I gave you pieces of advice, but it’s your turn to discover which stance fits your fighting style.