The Muay Thai Stance – Designed to Help You Not Get Hurt…Then Hurt Someone Else
Arguably One of the More Important Topics…
Although it sounds like nothing fancy…there’s a lot to the Muay Thai stance. Of course, you’ll find that every fighter stands a certain way and this depends on a lot of things…
The camp they’re from…their preferences…
What they are expecting to defend from their exact opponent.
But the typical Muay Thai stance have a lot of similarities.
Let’s dig deeper.
To Know Muay Thai…You Need To Know Your Human Anatomy
Muay Thai uses 4 basic weapons to attack with….all Hard, Edged Bone…
The Weapons of Muay Thai
Muay Thai Anatomy – Where Your Strikes Should Target
The human body has a lot MORE spots prone to getting hurt than for hurting others.
The goal of the Muay Thai stance is to a) Minimize the possibility of getting hit in one of these areas and b) position you to attack or move
Our human anatomy allows us infinite ways to express ourselves. In our resting state, our body’s move to a position to conserve energy…probably as a survival mechanism…what doesn’t conserve energy…what doesn’t use them wisely…gets weeded out….ohh the ruthlessness of nature.
Anyway..this is our typical posture as we stand in a resting state. Hands pointed in towards the side…the feet pointed in the same direction…hips and shoulder joints slack.
Now..moving forward…we can create some stability in our base by externally and internally rotating the hips. For the Muay Thai stance, the feet point in opposite directions, creating an external rotation….a slight exertion in the hips but it creates a more stable position.
Externally Rotated Hips
(Feet Pointed Away from each other)
Now, because fighters face their opponents face on….(well at least most of them)…in the fighting stance we bend forward at the lead knee, putting more weight to the front so where ready for whatever may come head on and ready to attack
Also note…that by keeping the legs bent…we aren’t committing ourselves to the position we stand…meaning….we can step away right from this basic stance if we need to ….AND….block and absorb a strike against our body if necessary.
By keeping the knees bent…when absorb shots, these act like ‘shock absorbers’ sending the energy into the ground instead of our body. (note…this is for strikes to the head and body…not the legs)
Now…fighting against an opponent…we want to minimize his or her ability to hurt us and maximize our ability to strike back. In the stance we can do this by lining up the heels together, making us a narrower target…by bringing the heels in line, we narrow ourselves without losing our balance or going cross footed which destroys balance.
On to the Upper body….
First… we need to engage the shoulders. When we strike and move in Muay Thai…it utilizes the entire body. By pulling the shoulders back slightly…we place tension at the shoulders, connecting both arms through the shoulders…so that when we punch and elbow…it hits with the whole upper body, not just the arms.
Notice that by keeping the shoulders back…they stay responsive at all times and ready to go…if we let them go slack..we need to re- flex them back to get this connection of the entire upper body.
Second, the placement of that rear arm. This arm is critical for defense and offense. By resting the elbow on the ribs and placing the fist at the chin…we create a tight defense for the body and the chin…very important!
The placement of the arm against the ribs is also important for punches….as it allows our punches and elbows to launch off of the body instead of winging it from the side
Notice how throughout the punch and elbow, we want our weight behind the arm throughout the strike.
Third…the lead arm…we keep the lead arm out as a probe….to throw the jab….gauge distance from the opponent. Notice we also keep that arm behind the body…this allows us to defend and block punches to the face easier than if we keep the arm in tight.
Notice how the arm is slightly at 45 or above. Keeping this arm high allows us to block easier and faster than keeping the arm down.
Now for the head…we always want to be protecting ourselves…our eyesight…our brain cells…our teeth…The top of the head and forehead is pretty sturdy and can take quite a beating…the eyes, nose and teeth..not so much.
Fourth…The eyes….the eyes should be focused on the torso….about in the middle. This allows us to see any strike coming through the peripheral vision. Look too low and we’ll miss the punch and elbow…too high and we miss the kicks and knees. Look into the eyes….and your opponent will direct you to look one way then strike the other…a big NO NO! (imagine reacting to your opponent looking down at your feet….you think the kick is coming to the legs…and right behind that he or she may surprise you with a kick to the head)
The Challenge of The Muay Thai Stance
It’s fairly easy to get into the Muay Thai stance…
The challenge is making it COMFORTABLE…so much so…that it’s the default position you keep returning to.
And it takes time to make it comfortable. I can remember when I learned about the importance of footwork and strengthening my feet. I did everything I could to strengthen up my feet…including walking on the front of my feet to start engaging those muscles…instead of landing heavy on my heels with each step.
It took a long time…months for me to erase the old bad habit of heel walking and walking on the fronts…but eventually I did it for so long…I couldn’t imagine a reality where I walked on my heels.
And such is similar for making the Muay Thai stance something so natural..that you couldn’t imagine moving any other way.
The thing about it…it’s not that hard to establish this habit….for those of you who’ve been training for a while…it may take longer but with it comes the wisdom of how to change a habit and pattern of movement if you conquer it…..
…for those who are just starting out…it’s a great way to establish good habits from the get go so you don’t waste time correcting them later on.
“It takes 500 repetitions to create a new habit….5,000 repetitions to replace an old one”
– Charles Duhigg (“The Power of Habit”)
There you have it! In class this week…we’ll be doing exercises which will improve our Muay Thai stance…allowing us to defend…and stand our ground for real!
A Little Experiment to Explain the Muay Thai Kinetic Chain
I was doing a little thinking as I was walking around through the grocery the other day….and it hit me….
The Muay Thai Kinetic Chain…is no different than the chain that we use to do the one thing we do every day….
That’s right…think about it..the lead foot lands forward……the knee extends…engaging the lead hip….the lead hip rotates the right hip forward…and the right foot lands…ending the kinetic chain for one step.
My invitation to you…
Start to be aware of this as you walk around…feel that transfer of energy through the lead foot…into the knees…the hips and finally out of the rear foot…step by step….
It’s fun…almost like a meditation as you start to walk and move…..To move with INTENTION…in Muay Thai and in Life!