Monday, February 08, 2010

Don't Take Away My Muay Thai Round Kick!

There's a lot of dogma surrounding muay thai's most fearsome technique - the round kick. Krus and ajarns, and fighter/instructors teach us that in muay thai the round kick is thrown one way, and one way only (their way). He throws the kick as his instructor before him, and the master before him. The shin bone is a miniature baseball bat; K-1 morphed into a muay thai tournament due to the style's domination; MMA fighters have adopted it as their primary leg strike; it is arguably the most feared technique in modern martial arts. The round kick is steeped in this mystique of indomitable aggression. There just isn't any room for improvement, is there?

I say yes, but not improvement through evolution, but improvement through digression - taking the muay thai round kick back to where it was first used: on the battlefield. Over the past 100 years or so - since Westerners introduced gloves and fighter promotions to muay thai (muay boran) around the turn on the 20th century - fighters and their trainers begin to modify their offense and defense to better protect themselves. Certain techniques that were known to cause severe damage were removed. Fighters' careers begin to last longer and everyone involved made money. Hence, muay boran was relegated to become a sort of sideshow demonstration for tourists. Over time safety techniques were perfected, and that's what we have today in modern ring style muay thai. The widespread popularity of MMA has further degraded muay thai techniques due partly to their trainers, partly due to the "crash course' style training a lot of MMA schools practice. But I digress.

Back to my point. - I'm getting there - We've got to go back to explore what the purpose of the muay thai round kick was originally used for. It wasn't used to score points or wear down an opponent. The target was the side of the knee - it was used for incapacitation. If the warrior lost his sword, his elbows and legs became the replacement weapon until he could rearm himself. Muay Chao Cherk is Krabi Krabong without swords. The kick would have to be thrown quickly, without a windup. And chances are slim that the desperate warrior had the time and opportunity to throw that kick from the "appropriate" distance. He could have been uncomfortably close, or out of reach, they may have had to throw it from a run.

So what I'm saying, and can prove is that the popular muay thai round kick that 99% of the martial arts schools in North America teach is not the 'end-all-be-all' kick. It can be further modified to generate up to 40% more force. It can be thrown from inside of elbow range - lerd rit CQC kick; from 5 feet away, from a walk, a run. The muay chao cherk kick was thrown with a drive from a standard range. With just a little bit of bio-mechanics knowledge and simple application of basic physics (f=ma, torque) you can modify your cookie cutter muay thai round kick into a strike that can end a fight when it counts (outside of the ring). Oh, and inside the ring or cage, your opponent will only block the first few strikes before having to resort to an evasion strategy.


  1. dam straight it's a weapon in h2h and on the street Donnie. While there are situation that one may decide to lead with CQB version, I personal attempt to steer people away from that.

    It is much more effective once our hands elbows, head and knees have gave the attacker something to think about.

    In my humble opinion anyway.

    Be ReaL & Train Real
    Johnny G

  2. I agree with you Donny, i also think the wai kru gives a false impression of a traditional standard.
    Muay Thai (modified Muay Boran)is'nt even one hundred years old yet and was brought into effect because the old style is just way to deadly.

    Muay Boran was designed for killing and incapacitating where as Muay Thai is a variation designed for fighting and entertainment.

    In regards to your old style round kick, you mentioned lerdrit which is what the thai royal gaurd use. And if anyone in Thailand knows how to destroy a Muay Thai fighter H2H its the Thai military. Military H2H combat systems are designed to suit the specific needs of their region. It speaks for itself in terms of dealing with a society full of muay Thai fighters, they dont use the Modern less powerful Muay Thai Kick. Now ask yourselves why all you skeptics.

    Bradley Vincent

  3. Bradley, people are skeptical because its different from what they've been shown. These guys will go and train in Thailand for anywhere from 6 months to 2 years, come back and open up a school. By normal standards, they're experts. But what they don't realize is that foreigners (farangs) aren't taught everything. The Thais hold the good stuff close in order to preserve their art. It takes years of training with the same master before a Westerner is trusted enough to learn beyond the basic stuff.

    And, remember, we're a lazy culture that assumes all things on Spike TV are true. Whoever yells the loudest will be heard, even if he's wrong.

  4. Kicking someones knees out is a good way to take your opponent out.

  5. Do you really think that trainers purposely hold things back from farang nag muay, or do you think that it's just because they haven't got they're basics to a standard that the teacher is happy for them to go to the next level?

    For me, the latter rings true if you consider the traditional style of teaching martial arts - none questioning and all trusting in the techniques the teacher hands us. One problem us westerners (me included) have is that we think we 'know' a technique once we've learnt it. A true technician knows that you only achieve this after you've had time to fully explore the technique on you own terms and in your own time...

    Back on topic: Nice kicks tho, and you're right, close range kicks to the knees are VERY effective, both physically and mentally. Sparring with Tae@BaanChangThai has taught me this the hard way!:)

  6. You know this topic actually holds true not only Thai Martial Arts but in Japanese and most other countries arts as well. I've been a karateka and Mae Mai Muay practitioner for most of my life and one of the biggest problems i see is that what most people see of karate is the slap fights they call point sparring, and the drawn out forms. It took me almost 10 years of study before I was shown the truth behind karate and how viscous the real techniques are meant to be.
    We have maneuvers in the style that while you train the long techniques and high kicks it's all more for strength and flexibility than the actual use of the technique. The real techniques are meant to destroy your attacker in as few maneuvers as possible.
    I think the instructors hold this info back not just to preserve the art, but to make sure the student is ready to do it. But again you have people who get their black belt and think they are ready to teach, and while they can teach the basics, most of the fine details are lost and then a series of instructors are born that have distorted it away from what it was suppose to be and you have what most see today.
    Muay Thai is the same thing, the only difference is is that it's still relatively new to westerners and can be fixed before its completely destroyed by the MMA world. I push real cqc karate and Mae Mai Muay as best I can to those who want to know and that's all we as instructors can do. Try to enlighten and show people that there is more to it than the initial maneuver.

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