6 Common Foot Work Mistakes in Muay Thai

 

1. Flat Feet

Being flat footed slows down your movement.  This is why jump roping is often a staple in fight training.

2. Tippie Toes

The opposite of being flat footed, many beginners believe they need to always be up on their toes this is not true.  Many movements such as evading punches, checking kicks etc. may be done with one foot flat for added stability. As a rule you always want to have at least one foot elevated.

3. Moving the Wrong Foot First/Crossing

When moving in any direction the foot closest to that direction must move first. If you move the wrong foot first while traveling to the left or right you will surely cross your feet resulting in compromised balance.

4. Moving Feet too Close Together

This is really similar to #3, however your feet may cross due to over stepping your second foot. If you take a 3 inch step one way your trail foot must take an equivalent step in order to maintain the proper balance.

5. Dragging Feet

Dragging your feet is like having an anchor tied around your your ankle. Picking your feet up will increase the speed you move in all directions.

6. Stance too Wide

Having your stance too wide will negatively effect you power out put on kicks and punches, it also will make it very difficult to defend kicks.

 

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What’s the point of shadow boxing?

When most people shadow box they simply see it as a way to warm up, but where you will see the most results is when you began to slow it down. Virgil Hill a multi time boxing champion and trainer, is said to have his student’s shadow box so slowly that it is painful!  As described in a previous post, the best way to learn a skill is to go slow.

A majority of the time, when working the bag or shadow boxing there is no one coaching you. So what should you do?…….Be your own Coach!

 

Photo Cred. @Watthana Instagram

A great tool for shadow boxing is a mirror. Most fight enthusiasts can tell the difference between good technique, and bad even if they don’t know why. Looking in a mirror gives you the opportunity to scrutinize and correct what you are doing wrong in real time. If you do not have a mirror a little focus is necessary. Start by scanning your body while moving slowly through technique.

Things you should ask yourself while shadow boxing:

I am I balanced throughout the technique?

I am I protected throughout the technique?

Is there any wasted movement?

 

Shadow boxing should not be a mindless exercise, you must consciously analyze technique, slow it down, correct it, and then speed it back up again. I typically spend 20 minutes each morning shadow boxing. I do not like setting a timer for short rounds, I believe this messes up the mental focus and flow. This type of shadow boxing when done correctly is almost meditative. Once you lose track of time focusing on the nuances of a jab, only then will you know that you are shadow boxing correctly. Shadow boxing slowly will not only improve your technique, but will also let you find and create new patterns and combinations. Try it out and let me know what you think!

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How to Break Down Technique: The Muay Thai Body kick

The best way to learn a skill is to slow it down enough to find and correct error. I often times like to slow things down so much that they are no longer one fluid movement (macro movement) , but several small movements (micro movements).

The advantages to this is now I can look at a technique, let’s say a body kick, and identify the key micro movements one of my students is doing incorrectly. Once I identify the key missing piece, I can then have them drill that piece separately from the whole movement. By doing so I can increase the rate at which students learn, by focusing on key missing pieces. Once a missing piece is mastered I will then have them continue the entire movement. Often times I will warm up with mirco movements that relate to the marco movement of the day.

 

 

Here are some of the key mirco movement that make up the body kick.

 

What piece are you missing? 

Muay Thai Master Saenchai at work!

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Sparring Light vs. Sparring Hard

There is a lot of debate  here in the States as to how hard fighters should spar. While there is no concrete answer, here is my take from training at top gyms in Thailand and the United States.

 

Let’s start with Thailand, most gyms in the land of smiles foster a laid back atmosphere, even camps with multiple active champions. It is not that they are not serious, they just tend to be more playful in training. I have sparred Thai champions with hundreds of fights and have never walked away with a headache or any serious injury. On the other hand, whenever a foreigner from Europe or America entered the ring to spar, I was guaranteed to go to war! From my experience this is how many gyms spar in the US, especially MMA gyms.

 

Combined Saenchia & Pinto have over 500 fights! Take note of the intensity and the playful nature of both. This is very common across gyms in Thailand.

 

So which style of sparring is more beneficial? To answer this question, I would like you to use your imagination and think back to when you first learned to read. If you are like most you learned the sound of each letter, then slowly put the words and sentences together. Now imagine if you had to learn to read as fast as possible, under the pressure of a set timer.

 

Which method do you think would yield the best results?…. Of course the method in which you had time to process the letters and words  gets you the desired outcome. You learn faster when you go slow. Your nervous system only recognizes patterns, it does not take into account speed when learning a complex skill. This is why when you learn to tie your shoe you tie it slowly, and eventually it becomes fast.  Sparring is no different when you test newly acquired technique under high pressure,  you develop poor habits.

 

But Is there a place for hard sparring? In my opinion yes,  especially here in the United States. In Thailand there is no need to test your skill under hard sparring as Thais often fight multiple times each month. In the US we simply do not have the luxury of fighting so often.

 

In Summary:

Step one :

Acquire skill during drills, bag work etc. Then test skills under low intensity technical sparring. Then proceed to step two.

 

Step two:

Test acquired skill under pressure (hard sparring). Find your errors and correct them under step 1.

 

Here at CKC we only spar hard when a competition is on the horizon, but even then I remind everyone to save their brain cells for when it counts!

 

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