Link to the Mastermind Muay Thai Video Tutorial
My Embarrasing Story about Stance
Back when I was a buffed up 5’8” 200 lbs. guy, my parents invited me out to the driving range for some golf. It was my first time playing the sport but it seemed easy enough to hit a little ball.
Using the gym muscles in my body, I expected that I was going to drive this golf ball around the globe (you can tell that I grew so much muscle it started replacing parts of my thinking brain).
My first drive went a lackluster 10 feet. Looking over at my near ‘senior citizen’ age parents, they were driving the ball farther much further than me. My dad and mom hitting a much more respectable 40, 50 YARDS!
With no experience in golf…I had no idea that there was a specific STANCE to the sport which allowed people to drive the ball 100, 200, 300 yards away….and within that stance lied the secret to the techniques of golf.
The purpose of the golf stance is to put you in position to drive the ball the farthest possible distance based on the principles of human movement and power generation.
Just like golf, there is a stance to Muay Thai and it’s the starting point to learning everything else in the art and making it flow together in real-time. It should be the absolute very first thing any practicing martial artist should MASTER first!
Without it, you might as well learn to play golf lifting weights.
The Purpose of the Muay Thai Stance
#1. Not get hit, and….
#2. how to hit someone with debilitating power…. in the right spot… at the right time.
So where does the stance fall into all of this? Well it allows you to use all of the powerful techniques to
- Generate maximum power through your fists, knees, shins, elbows while SIMULTANEOUSLY minimizing you to harm
- Allow you to move away, defend, or counter any strike coming at you
- Make you feel both mentally and physically ready to defend and fight for yourself
A Look at the Muay Thai Stance
- Eyes – In stance, the eyes should remain focused on the middle of the torso…Why?
- It calms your mind – By keeping the eyes fixed, it creates a sense of stability of your surroundings. Try this right now, starting shifting your eyes around randomly in a rapid pace…then try looking straight ahead, defocusing your eyes…which is more calming to you?
- It makes you feel physically balanced and stable – The eyes play a huge role in physical balance. If the eyes are always moving, it throws your balance off.
- It’s the most optimal position for seeing strikes coming at you – It positions you to see strikes coming from the feet and hands in a BALANCED view.
- Narrow Feet Position – The position of the feet dictates the balance of the rest of the body. By lining the heels up, we create the narrowest stance, which minimizes the exposure of our vulnerable areas (torso, head). The further out we position the foot, automatically, we begin to expose more of our body. A narrowed stance creates a position of the body that allows us to generate stability and force powerfully in the forward and backward.
- External Rotation of the Feet – Full external rotation of the hips creates stability to push forward with against strong incoming force. The full external rotation of the hips creates stability in the hips vs. one that is more anatomically neutral (feet pointing in same direction).
- Bend at the Knees – In the normal stance, both knees are bent to create mobility and stability for absorbing force. When the knees are locked in place, we are stuck until we unlock both knees….making you too slow to react to the moment. Bent legs put the powerful leg muscles in ready position to generate force forward for when we need to block, move in a direction, or strike powerfully.
The Defensive Teeping Muay Thai Stance – With the back leg bent, we send the weight of our body to the back leg. This IS a stance used in Muay Thai to deliver lead teeps quickly. The normal relaxed stance has both knees bent distributing the weight to the front to allow for mobility and other strikes more effectively.
- Curvature of the lower back – The lower back is taut but not fully flexed. It’s curved slightly forward. When the lower back is curled back like for a squat…we are stable and strong in the back but immobile…no good for fighting. By curving the back forward we put the spine and body in a coiled spring like position to snap forward and generate power. This is most evident when transitioning from the stance into a long knee.
- Shoulders Curled Forward – The shoulders curl forward to keep a bend in the upper back. Similar to the lower back this curvature puts the spine and body in a position to spring forward for power. When we stand with the upper back curled back, we lock our shoulders into stability and lose that ‘springiness’ that gives the pop in our strikes.
- Relaxing the neck to bring the Chin down – It’s most obvious that we keep our chin down because that spot when hit is most susceptible to Knockout when hit. But additionally, curving the neck downward does also affect the curvature of the spine as well and also adds to the spring effect of the spine to generate snap and power.
Key Points: Even with a good stance…a lot of people struggle with keeping the chin down when they throw strikes from the upper body (punches and elbows). The chin needs to stay down even during these strikes!
- Left Hand at Eye Level – The lead hand is at eye level to be able to be used with the jab to probe and feel out the opponent. Keeping the hand in makes it easier to close distance on you…and makes you appear smaller than you are.
- Right Hand to the Jaw – Right hand is to the chin to protect the chin and elbow is tucked in…resting on the body…this is to allow for maximum power generation when throwing from that heavy right hand. Keeping the arms out reduces the power of the strike and leads to problems with rotator cuff
As you can tell there’s a lot going on here. Here’s a quick and easy step by step infographic to help you get into perfect Muay Thai stance. At first it will feel unnatural, as most things are at first.
As you continue to practice, focusing on your stance, it will become natural, like learning to ride a bike.
If you’re ever confused about the stance you can always come back to this quick and easy infographic for help getting your Muay Thai stance down.
Mastermind Muay Thai Stance Infographic
Some Final Thoughts on the Muay Thai Stance
Mastery of the Muay Thai stance is the first thing you should focus on. Notice I used the word ‘MASTERY’. What does MASTERY imply? That you do it correctly without second thought…as if you didn’t know how to do it any other way…that the form as permeated your unconscious so deeply that you don’t have to give it another thought. The way to acquire this is to make it a FOCUS as you begin your training. Focus on throwing strikes and returning back to stance automatically…not having to adjust yourself after every technique….Moving with your footwork and feet are always returning to the same distance apart as in the stance….etc….etc….this stance needs to be your neutral position in Muay Thai and the only way to master it is to make it as FOCUS.