In this Series, we’ll be de-coding and breaking down the beginning and end point of all Muay Thai techniques – the Stance.
Of the various regional styles of Muay Thai Boran which originated throughout the various provinces of Thailand, each could be categorized into one of these two categories – ‘Muay Lug’ (translating to ‘Hard/Solid Boxing’ and ‘Muay Giaw’ (translating to ‘Soft/Fluid Boxing’).
For more on the Hard and Soft Styles of Muay Thai, click here.
Regional Styles of Muay Thai Boran were Influenced by their Enemy
The soldiers of Korat would have to face the neighboring Kingdoms of Laos and Cambodia at the North–Eastern border of Thailand.
Battles which took place here would heavily influence the techniques and strategies of what would come to be known as the Hard Style of Muay Thai Boran.
Regional Styles of Muay Thai Share a Common Starting Point for the Stance
Naturally, each of these regional styles were adapted and designed to fight the enemy they would face. Each of these regional styles had their own set of preferred techniques, strategies for defeating the opponent, and even varying methods for hand-wrapping.
What is common among all of these regional styles of Muay Thai Boran is the 3-point footwork system utilized in their stance.
The 3-Point Footwork System is the Foundation of Muay Thai
A Nak Muay (translates to Muay Thai Fighter) may find himself in 3 basic foot positions when training or engaged in Muay Thai combat. These being a 1-point support position, a 2-point support position, or a 3-point support position – the triangle stance.
An example of a 1-point support position can be demonstrated by the basic one-legged guard position, utilized to post up the shin against the torso of the opponent. Other examples of utilizing a 1-point support position include utilizing the shin to check kicks and guarding the belly from straight attacks such as teeps.
A two-point position in Muay Thai is what is utilized exclusively in Muay Thai for close combat, when the Nak Muay is ‘merged’ with his opponent. Unlike the previous position, the Nak Muay’s shoulders and hips are ‘squared’ in the 2-Point Support Position.
The two merged combatants are not leaning on one another. Instead, their center of gravity lies directly at the center, between their two heels, directly under the pelvis and spine. Both combatants are centered over their center of gravity, not leaning against one another.
And unlike the 3-Point position, which I will describe shortly, the 2-Point position is more stable with a wider base. Specifically, the heels shoulder be slightly wider than shoulder width, with the feet pointing outward.
3-Point Footwork System Called the “Triangle Stance”
The Triangle Stance, translated to “Yuen Sam Khun”, is the starting point of the Muay Thai stance. The majority of the basic movements, guards, and attacks all ‘start from’ and ‘return to’ this triangular base.
Movement with the Triangle Stance
The center-line in martial arts is the imaginary line which exists between you and your opponent. All movements, are executed in relation to the center-line between the opponent.
The most basic example of the Triangle Stance in the most basic aggressive action one can take, stepping toward the opponent. In Thai, the word used for this most basic of steps is Sueb Na.
Sueb, in Thai, translates “to creep, to step cautiously”. Na translates to “forward”
In the context of Muay Thai, Sueb Na means to “creep forward cautiously along the center-line, tracking every movement of the opponent with the eyes, with the feet ready to respond. Taking this into account, every footwork movement is executed with vigilance and mindfulness.
How to Develop the Triangle Stance for Beginners
Starting out, a fundamental footwork skill which is excellent for developing the Triangle Stance is learning to switch stances forward and back along the center-line, while preserving the integrity of the 3-point foot-work structure throughout the movement.
By learning to control distance between the opponent while maintaining a strong 3-point stance first along the two-dimensional plane (the center-line), the Nak Muay learns to properly judge distance between the opponent. Through this, the Nak Muay begins to develop a body sense for what it feels like to feel ready to move with a moving opponent.
Next – Spinal Alignment and the Muay Thai Stance
With respect to all Muay Thai techniques, power in the strikes is developed from the ground up. And so, with today’s article, we discussed the foundation of the power of that footwork, the triangle stance.
If, while in stance, the spine is not properly positioned, it will affect the execution of ALL strikes, techniques, guards performed from that compromised stance.
A properly aligned spine and strong triangular base are the ingredients for the foundation upon which both efficient learning and training of Muay Thai can be carried out. More on this in my next article. Stay Tuned.
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