I can remember when I was introduced to sparring in my Muay Thai class. I remember my head getting battered left and right with punches and leaving class every night not being able to tell which way was up. I tried numerous methods of training which didn’t stop the punches from coming until I was taught a defensive style of Muay Thai on one of my trips to train in Thailand.
How A Simple Shift in Muay Thai Stance Dramatically Reduced Annoying Punches From Knocking Me SIlly
After coming back to the States, it was as if I was rarely touched. My once bloodied face after sparring was replaced by a clean untouched face which my wife complimented me on. (She was sick and tired of seeing the bloody lips and noses) These are some tips you can use today to dramatically reduce and even eliminate getting constantly battered from the oh-so-deadly straight punch in Muay Thai.
Learn to Use The Shoulders to Protect The Head, First and Foremost
You see some of the best boxers in the world do this (i.e. – Floyd Mayweather) and it don’t just work in boxing! When in your neutral stance, learn to stand with the lead shoulder tucked right next to your chin. When you strike with the rear side, bring the rear shoulder to the front to protect your chin. I’m telling you…this will reduce the number of clean shots on your head dramatically, especially the ones that count – (the ones to the eyes, nose, and jaw….the ones to the forehead are annoying but they aren’t really that important) People will try to hit you and their punches will be flying off your arms and deflected off that shoulder, making you feel safe to look for flaws in your opponents defense.
Keep Your Chin Down At All Times!
This is so paramount – Muay Thai Defense 101. But you got to train it for a few weeks straight to just get it to become natural. It’s weird, but what I’ve noticed is that when people fight in a frenzy and unleash, their natural tendency is to bring that chin up…don’t know why but it just happens…so you need to focus on training this diligently. Keeping your chin down will eliminate about 50% of the area of the face and neck where someone could really do some damage or even knock you out.
Narrow up the body and keep that rear hand at the chin when you’re not striking
You’ll want to narrow up your body as much as possible to make your head as small of a target as possible. How do you do this? By pulling that rear shoulder back so that the shoulders are making a near straight line with your opponent. Instead of standing flat to your target, narrow up to a more defensive Muay Thai stance if you’re constantly getting hit. This is especially true for a lot of you shorter guys trying to get in on the tall fighters. Use that lead arm to hide your head behind and guard that centerline.
Follow these steps and you’ll be dancing around your opponents punches to your head. Next, you’ll ease into their punches so you can set up your shot to counter. You’ll be making a huge step of progress towards Muay Thai Mastery. The straight punches (jab and cross) as simple of a technique as they are, are still the most deadly and effective attacks and if you can learn to start taking it away from your opponents, you’ll likely dominate them.
Let me know how it goes. I know if you’re having this ‘head’ problem, these tips will definitely work for you.