Sunday, December 8, 2013

Muay Thai Doesn't Have Good Hands?

Go ahead and use my gloves.
Some fight fans are comparing boxing's punching methods and standard tactics against Muay Thai. Making the sweeping assumption that Muay Thai fighters don't have good hands (punching techniques).
One can generalize that some of boxing's technical cues e.g., torque from the legs and hips, can transfer well to all striking combat sports. Unfortunately not all of boxing's basics should be adopted for Muay Thai.

Being a punch only sport, The sweet science does have a lot to offer if one wants to optimize their punching mechanics. Unfortunately, some of those mechanical principals can get you in trouble. For example, western boxing's basic stance (1). I'm not saying it's impossible to fight Muay Thai in a boxing stances but your chances of getting leg kicked or swept will dramatically increase.

Great for Western Boxers, leg kick city for MT.

Punches in Muay Thai
Scoring in any combat sport can get pretty controversial. Muay Thai rules around the world are different but for the most part they all favor kicks over punching techniques.
A contestant who wins the round and does so with exceptional above-the-belt kicking technique should be given a more favorable point advantage then the contestant who wins a round with a predominance of punching technique. An otherwise even round should be awarded to the overall most effective above-the-waist kicker. -WKA (2)
In Thailand punches are generally not scored at all. Even snapping your opponents head back like a Pez dispenser won't gain you an advantage and by generally I mean it won't score unless you have your opponent dazed and wiggle walking through out the fight. (3, 4)

Since scoring differ so will tactical approaches. More weapons are available to the Muay Thai fighter, such as elbows. Which means that you're not going to see nearly as much volume punching as you do in western boxing. Hands in Muay Thai are going to conventionally be used as a set up. Such as Lumber Jacking, a term used to describe the European style of punch, punch, low kicking the leg until there is no leg left. There is an exception, the few times that you'll see leather getting thrown or exchanged is if a fighter has his opponent rocked or if the bookies placed a huge bet for a KO by punch.

3:20-3:45 for Lumber Jacking done right

What qualifies as good hands?
A fighter with perfect form can swiftly pepper their opponent, but if he's not frightening his opponent, causing damage or walking his apposition down queer street he's "all show and no go." In my opinion form does not mean shit if the fighter is not getting results from his efforts during the fight. 

Heavy Weight champ Vitali Kittenscko

So next time you're watching a Muay Thai fight or even MMA and someone says "he doesn't have good hands", explain to them that to qualify as having good hands the fighter's punching has to be effective not pretty.


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