The twelfth lesson in my second course on Muay Thai for Cross Training in the Martial Arts combined the advanced techniques with foundation skills. We looked at tactical contexts, but I was generally more interested in reinforcing strong confirmations of my client’s ability to be able to perform one of these new techniques whilst on the move. Having a level of fitness, including appropriate flexibility and strength, is one thing but being able to develop the right neural pathways to perform an action is another. Not long ago I looked back to my circus culture heritage and decided to do some trapeze work to focus on core stability from a different angle, which was where I personally re-experienced the problem of teaching a new neuromuscular action. My trapeze teacher insisted that I had the specific strength to perform all the basic lever positions. However, getting message from my conscious brain to the right muscle groups was another matter altogether. As my client said in tonight’s lesson “It’s a hard job telling your body to do something it has spent 40 years not doing!”
The lesson began with a warm-up consisting of mobility and muscle activation exercises. We then went straight to basics using flash-pad training. Flash-pad training’s limitation can be found with the introduction of advanced techniques. This can be overcome but only with experience and almost telepathic communication between coach and fighter. Therefore we isolated all the advanced techniques taught over the last few lessons before looking at the construction of suitable combinations. We revised jumping and flying knee strikes, climbing downward elbow, spinning elbow, turning back-kick, spinning crescent kick, reverse round kick and spinning hook kick.
In the case of the turning back-kick we used the Jack Johnson drawing tactic. This is the best way I can describe moving in with a flurry of aggressive techniques only to immediately back off, drop guard and draw an opponent onto a strong technique. Taught in boxing this is usually where the Johnson/Ali “anchor punch” comes into play. In this instance we opened up with a standard jab/cross/lead low round kick and then drew the opponent onto a mid-section turning back-kick.
Following on what I said in my opening paragraph to this diary entry regarding training behaviours over tactics, I taught my client an inside crescent kick/spinning crescent combination. This is a great way to get momentum into a spinning combination. We were able to use the simple mechanics of the movement to create more complex yet more efficient combinations such as low round kick/spinning kick/mid-section round kick. The spinning kick was first a crescent and later a reverse round kick. I was happy to see that my client has progressed well, which is testament to his dedication and the strength of an open mind. He has gone from being a 40 year old whose main martial arts knowledge is based on two years of minimalistic, pragmatic self-defence and combat sport techniques, who isn’t naturally flexible, to someone who is performing spinning kicks to the head within three one hour lessons!