Blocking Punches for Muay Thai

Lessons on Defense…from Batman’s Trainer

muay-thai-fun-kickboxing-self-defense-chadds-ford-hockessin-newark-kennett-squareEver since I got into Muay Thai, my favorite Batman movie has always been “Batman Begins“. The training scenes between Bruce Wayne and Razal-Gul were my favorite scenes…

…Where Razal-Gul drops some deep martial arts wisdom on Bruce. 

In one of the training scenes, he spars with Bruce, teaching him the importance of not sacrificing his defense to get off a shot….then sweeps him to the ground.

Every now and then, I go back and watch those scenes, with a more profound understanding of the lessons.

Like Bruce Wayne, we may be able to deliver heavy strikes…But..

No one is going to stand there and let us just smash on them.

Defensive Maneuvers Are More Important Than Offensive Striking

There I said it!…And How True it Is.

Unless we can defend against attacks, all the powerful strikes we practice in training won’t mean much.

The purpose of this blog is to explain the most common defensive maneuvers against the PUNCH….the BLOCK…and explain it in a way that’s both memorable and easy to understand. 

So as we get started, as with anything…

Begin with the End in Mind

The Starting Point and the End Point. So for defending the punch…what are they?

muay-thai-blocking-4-kickboxing-self-defense-chadds-ford-hockessin-newark-kennett-squareTo Defend against the PUNCH – it starts with your opponent attempting to deliver a punch to a target on your body. 




The end is that those knuckles land flush against a target on your body.  Punches are directed to vital spots (End Points) on either the HEAD or BODY.

(*Punches aren’t thrown to the legs or hips)

So, now that we’ve established the START POINT (opponent delivers a punch to vital spot) and END POINT (knuckles land on a vital spot on the body or head)

…let’s look into how we can use the BLOCK to interrupt those knuckles from reaching their intended destination.


Blocking – The Most Basic Way of Defending Against Punches

Blocking a punch from a trained opponent can be described as being similar to the feeling of your Car Airbags. muay-thai-blocking-2-kickboxing-self-defense-chadds-ford-hockessin-newark-kennett-squareWhen they go off….it sucks…but it’ll save your life.

Blocking makes the difference between absorbing the force of the impact through a padded surface…versus eating a steering wheel head on.


Our Very-Own, Built-In, BLOCKING PAD

When the arm bends in, this muscle protrudes out, forming a solid yet cushioned pad – the most suitable part of the arm for absorbing and diffusing impact.

 BLOCKING PAD for Punches


Because it forms a ROUNDED pad of muscle, it makes it ideal for blocking punches…and can be used in street defense situations…where hitting that rounded surface could break your attackers wrist. 

And so we block by placing this muscle pad, (Let’s call it a BLOCKING PAD) at the spot that our opponents want to target. 



Okay…so we’ve established the beginning and end points….Opponents Knuckles….to targets on your body and head. 

And from there, we established that we can interrupt that process by placing the blocking pad from either our lead arm or rear arm in FRONT of the target, before the opponents KNUCKLES get there.

Simple, right?

The #1 Rule for the Game of Blocking…get that blocking pad (arm) in front of the target BEFORE our opponent does.




So if an opponent throws a hook to the side of our head, we want to get that BLOCKING PAD to the side of our head before he/she does.




After actually getting our arm/blocking pad in front of the target…there’s one last piece we need to take into account for the most OPTIMAL block.

We need to take into account the WEIGHT behind the punch, and so here’s a great analogy that I use when teaching the concept of blocking punches.

Blocking Punches is like Catching

Think of what happens for a moment when catching.

First, you need to get your hands in front of the trajectory of the ball. We just covered this part…Blocking Pad to the Opponent’s Knuckles. If your “blocking pad” isn’t there, you’re going to get Punched.


Second, you need to judge the velocity and weight (the momentum) of the ball to brace your body for the catch. Underestimate the momentum, and it’ll fly right through your hands.

Overestimate the momentum, you’ll swipe at the ball too hard and you’ll fumble it.

Assess it just right, you’ll absorb the momentum with the least amount of damage. 

Blocking punches, just like catching….our Brain needs to be able to judge not just the direction of the incoming object/fist…

..But how much momentum is behind that punch so that we can adjust our bodies in the most efficient way to absorb that force. 




2 Basic Rules of the Blocking Game

Rule #1 – Get that blocking pad (arm) in front of the target BEFORE our opponent does.

Rule #2 – Adjust your body to “catch” the punch.

Sounds simple right? But taking a look at any boxing or Muay Thai match, it’s not as easy as it is simple!

Here is a simple pattern to think of when learning to block. 

The Basic Block to the Punch and a Simple Pattern in Them

Basically, for all of the blocks, we’re turning our body into the punches. And to accomplish that, we’re twisting left or right at some angle to position our body to “catch” the strike. 





The Good, Bad, and Ugly on Blocking Punches

So Blocking is the most fundamental and necessary form of defense against punching – But it also has some drawbacks.

  1. It still hurts and damages your arm over time
  2. It takes a lot of energy
  3. It’s effectiveness is dependent on your size and weight (heavier people have an easier time)

Either way, it’s a necessary form of defense because you’re never going to be able to evade and/or parry ALL punches that comes your way….and it’s in those moments.

That You’re Blocking Skills will Save Your Day.

The Ugly on Blocking…against someone that’s significantly, significantly larger than you…It may not work too well…Like trying to “catch” boulders coming at you. In this situation, a better option would be one of the other two forms of defense. 

On the flip side, if you are larger than your assailant, simply blocking and then responding with the counter might be the more sound strategy. You gotta think. 

The other two forms of defense against the punch will work against any size opponent…because they DON’T rely on the weight and strength of your body. They are…EVADING the Punch and PARRYING the Punch

I’ll have an article for those two shortly so stay tuned!


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