Advanced Muay Thai Techniques target Killing Spots which, if struck, can finish the Fight in One Step
To reach a more advanced level, it is required that a Nak Muay understands the vulnerability of these killing spots, both on himself and on his opponent.
These ‘kill spots’ are targets which if struck accurately and with sufficient force, render the opponent a) unable to continue fighting or b) dead.
In this article, we will discuss the various ‘kill spots’ of the human body and Muay Thai techniques that target them, starting with the lower targets, below the waist (Laang means Lower).
3 Killing Spots below the Waist (Laang) and Muay Thai Techniques for Attacking Them
Understanding how to disable an opponent by targeting the legs is an effective strategy in a self-defense situation and a strategy the Nak Muay knows how to utilize as well as defend against.
1. The knee joint, if struck from the side can render an opponent immobile. The knee joint is a particular hinge joint which bears the weight of the body, and structurally weak in the horizontal direction.
Tears to the ligaments of the knee make it near impossible for the fighter to bear weight on the leg, immobilizing them from continuing to fight.
A common way of targeting the knee joint is by utilizing cut kicks to the leg (The’ Taht Laan – Translating to ‘Kick Cut Low’), which can be delivered to either side for the intended effect.
However a straight leg attack to the knee can be delivered when the opponent is delivering a kick to the head, by swinging forward to the opposite side of which the kick is coming, as seen in the following Muay Thai Technique, Ta-yae Kham Sao
‘Look Mai’ Muay Thai Technique – Ta-yae Kham Sao
Translates to ‘Supporting a Pole Diagonally’
2. The Achilles Tendon is also a potential ‘Kill Spot’. the target of attack when executing certain ‘Look Mai’ Muay Thai techniques. The Achilles Tendon is the largest tendon in the body. Trauma to the Achilles Tendon is very painful and tear of this sensitive area can leave an opponent immobilized.
‘Look Mai’ Muay Thai Technique – Tain Gwaad Laan
Translates to ‘Old Monk Sweeps the Courtyard with a Broom’
‘Look Mai’ Muay Thai Technique – Yuan Taud-Hae
**The Yuan refer to a group of people from Vietnam. The Mongol Empire and the Yuan Dynasty had invaded Vietnam in historical times.
3. The Groin – Although banned from use in competitive sport today, attacking the groin and genitals was also part of the arsenal of the Muay Boran warrior.
3 Killing Spots on the Torso (Glaan) and Muay Thai Techniques for Attacking Them
1. The Floating Ribs – When attacking the torso with body kicks, the trajectory of the kick is diagonal upward into the lower ribs. The prime target of immobilization on the torso is the floating rib.
The floating ribs are the last two rows of the rib on the rib cage. Unlike the other 12 ribs, these ribs have no attachment to the anterior of the sternum like the other ribs, making them structurally very weak. The objective is to fracture or break these ribs.
To hit the floating rib, requires the Nak Muay to drive his hips up and into his opponents torso to achieve this effect with his body kicks.
Damage to this rib affects the Nak Muays ability to generate rotation through the spine without significant pain or breath properly.
2. The Collar Bone (Clavicle) – Another killing spot on the torso is the clavicle. Brittle, it is broken with sufficient trauma from an elbow strike. The shape of the bone, it is not designed for blunt trauma and breaks easily, severing the ability of the opponent to keep the hands up to continue fighting.
Baksa-Waeg-Raeng (breaking into the bird’s nest), one of the primary ‘Mae Mai’ Muay Thai techniques, involves merging into the opponents collarbone with Sok Poong (Fast Approaching Elbow).
‘Mae Mai’ Muay Thai Technique – Baksa Waeg Rung
Translates to ‘Breaking into the Birds nest’
The Nak Muay achieves this by stepping into the opponents guard to the inside angle as the lead straight punch is thrown, ‘breaking into the opponents nest’.
3. The Blood Vessels around the Heart – The area of the heart and chest are also considered ‘killing spots’. With sufficient piercing trauma from an elbow to the aorta, which lies slightly left of the center-line above the sternum, warriors from the past would aim to damage the blood vessel surround the heart to stop it – a killing blow.
‘Look Mai’ Muay Thai Technique – Suk Puang-Malai
Translates to ‘Tattoo a Flower Garland*‘
*In Thailand, a common tattoo is to get a Puang-Malai (flower garland) tattooed on the chest, left of the heart.
This is exemplified in the ‘Look Mai’ Muay Thai Technique, Suk Puang Malai, used to defend against a straight punch, with an elbow to the heart. The key to proper execution of this and all Muay Thai techniques requires good judgement of distance, timing, and footwork.
4 Killing Spots above the shoulders (Bon) and Muay Thai Techniques for Attacking Them
The Upper body contains several points which if struck can lead to a direct knockout – particularly the arteries on the neck, the chin/jaw, and temple are common targets to illicit a knockout in Muay Thai.
1. Artery on the Side of the Neck – Another major blood vessel which is commonly targeted lies in the major arteries on the side of the neck. When delivering a kick high, the Nak Muay will aim to arc the kick over the opponents shoulders and downward onto the neck, cutting off the blood flow to the head, an instant knockout.
The name of this kick, (Long-Dan Bratu– translating to ‘shut and lock the door’), referring to a type of door lock utilized in Thailand, that requires swiping horizontal and downward motions to lock.
The knockout occurs so quickly and definitively, that when opponents are struck by it, the knees buckle and the body drops dangerously to the ground, with the fall sometimes compounding the damage done.
2. The Pterion (commonly known as the temple) is the weakest part of the skull, where the major bones of the skull fuse together, and is rich with blood vessels and nerves. With sufficient impact from a punch, elbow strike, or kick, will cause the opponent to go unconscious.
3. The Chin, if struck, can cause instant knockout if hit with the correct timing. Knockouts coming from the opponent connecting with the chin result in a sharp transition to unconsciousness, also resulting in potential damage done from the fall.
‘Mae Mai’ Muay Thai Technique – Yaw-Khao Pra-Su-Main
Translates to ‘Prop up Mount Meru’
4. The eyes are also a killing spot. Trauma to the eyes results in blurred vision or momentary blindness. Additionally, the ridges of the eyebrows are vulnerable to bleeding and cut open with punches and elbows. If placed with a stabbing type of elbow directly to the eye, can severely damage it and the areas around it. Damage to this area of the body can cause a loss of vision and places the injured in a very dangerous situation.
Understanding the Killing Spots for your Fighting Style
By understanding the killing spots of the opponent, a fighter can begin to train various techniques to reach those spot. Depending on ones size, shape, and style of fight, certain killing spots are more attainable than others.
In this video, my instructor explains the various killing spots that a style of fighter like myself (short, strong, and stocky) should target, and the killing spots that would be more difficult to reach.
Author’s Final Notes:
In the past, the Look Mai techniques were taught by Kru Muay to his students who earned the right to learn them.
The ability to begin training of these techniques starts only after a student has mastered the basic attacks (Chern Muay), basic defensive techniques (Kon Muay), and the 15 Mae Mai – Muay Thai Techniques.
To reach a high level of Muay Thai, it is critical that the Nak Muay can appreciate human anatomy as it relates to efficiency and strategy in unarmed combat.
In these situations, ‘the kill spots’ present an efficient means of disarming an aggressor and provides another avenue for which a smaller fighter may be able to fight and win against a larger fighter.
At the higher level of Muay Thai training, practitioners aim to gain mastery over their Kru Muay’s Look Mai – Muay Thai Techniques, which takes years of training to master and perfect.
Each of these techniques are designed with both an action from the aggressor and the defender, with the defender successfully evading the attack while simultaneously delivering a severe strike causing damage to the body or one of the aforementioned kill spots.
The fighter delivering the weapon throws it with the mindset of “That’s it! It’s done!“
With an accurate shot, right on the target and powerful, the Nak Muay executes with the intention of “Game Over“.
What makes many of these Look Mai Muay Thai Techniques so revered was that, if mastered, they were considered unstoppable. Meaning, if executed correctly, there would be no way for the opponent to recover and fight back, ending the match.
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