The great thing about Muay Thai training in new environments with different people is that you pick up a range of tips. Even if they aren’t necessarily new ones, when they’re coming from new trainers and communicated in slightly different ways they tend to sink in deeper.
While I was training at Sangmorakot gym in Bangkok in January this year, head trainer Top re-emphasised the importance of a few key tips for delivering an effective kick.
Keep your standing leg straight and rise up on your toes
This was one of the key things I was told while training in Bangkok. Prior to the trip, I had been training a fair bit of boxing so my body had started to shift into a wider stance with bent knees. I spent most of my time in Thailand readjusting back to a straighter, more upright Muay Thai stance. You still have your weight on your toes, so you’re ready to move or check and kick back with speed. I was told that as you kick, your body weight should be moving forwards and slightly upwards as you rise up on your standing leg’s toes and pivot to land your kick.
Turn your hips
That brings me to the next point: turn your hips. You often hear trainers say “more hip” when giving feedback on kicks. Everyone has different body mechanics, so some people find it harder to turn their hips. I personally find that it makes a huge difference to the power of my kicks when I turn my hip properly. Another thing that helps is to make sure your body is loose. If you’re too stiff, it’s hard to turn properly and you waste a lot of energy.
Don’t lean backwards
This is an obvious one for balance reasons. It also ensures that you can see what your opponent is doing so you’re ready to counter. Keeping your chin down, which is the next tip, helps to stop you from leaning backwards.
Keep your chin down
And your hands up. This is clearly important for defensive reasons. I also find that it helps me to generate power. It’s probably one of the first things you learn when you start Muay Thai or other stand up fighting sports. But as you start to fatigue, it’s easy to let your chin pop up and hands drop down. You can see in the video above that I drop my hands during the kicking exercise between kicks. It was the end of training so I was tired, but it would have been good practice to keep my hands up the whole time.
I think it’s useful to think about these tips when practicing kicking. The more kicks you execute with good technique, the more it becomes programmed into your body. That way, it will eventually become second nature so you won’t have to think about it.