Tonight’s lesson on basic Muay Thai for martial arts cross training brought us up to the three hour mark. We focused further incorporating round kicks into basic combinations as well as working on some of the finer details of execution.
We warmed up with some specific mobility exercises and calisthenics. This began with the simply arm and waist rotations, moving onto the Indian press-up (dands). This excellent exercise is usually reserved for grappling – being a staple of traditional Indian wrestling – but is just a general all ground great exercise to get all the main muscle groups activated and preparing them for the stress of physical training. It begins as a gentle dynamic stretch (not a static stretch, in the way that Yoga often borrows this as the quasi-traditional downward-facing dog asana) and then as the movement becomes more comfortable the intensity is raised so that it becomes a callisthenic exercise. We then followed this on with standing single leg raise. This movement is another dynamic stretch and is very common in strike-based martial arts. To get the most out of the exercise, maintain your stance and actively pull the leg down with the hamstrings after the raise has reached its highest point. As with the Indian press-ups the standing single leg raise must be started gently and the range of mobility increased gradually with each repetition.
We then revised footwork, including pivoting as well as forward, backward and lateral movements. From here we revised basic punches, introducing the step across for the hook. Emphasis was on relaxing the movement as much as possible, using footwork to create momentum and the particular heaviness of Muay Thai’s punches. Next we revised the back and front leg teeps. This was begun with partner body targeting and conditioning exercises before moving on the Thai focus mitts. They were then incorporated into simply jab, jab/cross and jab/cross/hook combinations.
The round kick came out next and we spent extra time on this particular technique that had only been introduced towards the end of the previous lesson. We discussed the variety of ways that different Thai camps teach the kick as well as the Dutch take on the move, but mainly focused on the general mechanics behind the kick. From a tactical perspective, I like to teach students to retrieve the kick before it makes a full spinning rotation. However, I also find that if I teach this early retrieval when first introducing the kick it interrupts flow and power. A key point about the throwing the Thai round kick (or virtually any Thai technique) is the commitment to flow. So we learnt the move committing fully to 360 degree momentum. Kicks were aimed low and to the mid-section first with partner targeting and then on the focus mitts to develop power.
The round kick was then integrated into some basic punching combinations. The strength of Muay Thai lies in the time it has spent utilising all its weapons in succession rather than in isolation or as a product of a recent introduction. The nak muay seamlessly follows his punches with kicks just as fluidly as one might through a one-two punching combination. The same applies to the way he clinches and strikes within the clinch. Each technique sets up for the next one, creating a strong momentum whilst retaining a firm core to eliminate telegraphing techniques.
We then looked at defensive and counter-offensive tactics against the teep and round kick. This included shin-checks, performed as strikes against the incoming round kick and kick catches for both mid-section versions of these two kicks. We also covered sweeps.
The lesson was finished with a blending of punching and kicking combinations, focusing on left-right combinations.