The Anatomy of Leg Kicks

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For people that do striking martial arts where kicks below the waist are not allowed, it’s difficult to imagine the pain of a series of leg kicks from someone that knows what they’re doing. That’s why one of the most important skills to develop early on in your Muay Thai training is checking (blocking) against leg kicks and footwork to help avoid them.

Typically, the leg kick is performed using the shin as the weapon of choice. Shins are much harder than the bones of the feet, and are more durable as well. This means if you end up running into knees or other shins instead of your intended target, you’re less likely to get injured. In Muay Thai, the feet are usually reserved for softer precision targets like the face. For recreational students and for fighters in training, shin guards are used to soften the blow so that techniques can be developed without getting hurt.

Illustration of sciatic nerve shows the L4-S3 spinal nerves, the sciatic notch, piriformis muscle, common fibular and tibial nerves. Description of sciatica and common causes of sciatica.

The target is most often the outer thigh, a muscle called Vastus Lateralis. Many fighters report that while the first few leg kicks might hurt a bit, the pain of leg kicks is more of a cumulative effect as the fight wears on. This is because when the VL’s and other muscles have been hit a few times, they become inflamed. This puts pressure on the sciatic nerve, which runs through the area and provides all the major muscle groups of the leg with sensation. That’s where the pain comes from, and how quickly it happens depends on the conditioning of the muscles to take the blows, how hard the kicks were and other factors. Once in a while in sparring you might have a particularly tough time blocking kicks and be sore afterwards, and that’s a good time to stretch and ice the affected muscle to bring down the inflammation and take the pressure off the nerve. Beginner to Intermediate students are introduced slowly to sparring on purpose to build up the conditioning of the legs to take kicks so that they can enjoy the challenge of full-contact sparring later on if they choose.

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Love to compete, or just want to get in great shape this year? Come and check out our Muay Thai programs in St. Albert for ages 5 and up! E-mail us at tlarone@arashido.com or give us a call at 780-217-0059 for more information.

 

The Benefits of Heavy Bag Training

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There are many techniques in Muay Thai, and the most common way to train them is by bundling them in combinations. The combinations themselves are usually arranged specially to develop some kind of skill or simulate a particular situation you may face in combat. For example, the combo Check, Teep, Chase Jab Cross would simulate you having checked a kick that your opponent threw, then quickly throwing a teep to try to catch them on one leg before the kick is withdrawn. While they’re knocked off balance, you close the distance and hit them with the 1-2.

In order to fully understand a combo, it’s best when trained in five ways – Shadowboxing, Heavybag, Thai Pads, Cooperative Partner and Sparring. Each of these training methods will develop different aspects of the combo and altogether combine to produce the finished result, which is a combo usable and effective in full contact under stress. In this article, I’ll focus on the benefits of the heavy bag.

  1. Power – The heavybag is a great tool for developing raw power, since it can’t be hurt and doesn’t require a great deal of accuracy to hit. Striking accuracy will be developed using Thai pads and partners, so it doesn’t need to be as much of a consideration when hitting the bag. That means you can focus entirely on hitting hard. You can think of it like sculpting, where the heavybag work is the initial chiseling of large chunks off the block so that it can be shaved down, styled and smoothed later.
  2. Conditioning – The bag is also great for building cardio, for the aforementioned accuracy not being an issue and also because you can hit a bag anytime without training partners so it’s easier to get in extra workouts.
  3. Toughening – In any striking art, the joints can take a beating. Even if you can throw a punch or kick hard, your fists or shins might not be able to handle the impact over time. The wrists, elbows, shoulders, hips, knees, shins and feet all must be conditioned for health and safety reasons. It might look cool on YouTube to kick banana trees, but almost all top trainers will say the same thing for shin conditioning – kick the heavybag, hard and often.

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Congratulations to Derek “Honey Badger” Jolivette on his victory in Toronto!

This past weekend, Derek “Honey Badger” Jolivette and his coach Kru Ryan Timoffee from Arashi-Do Sherwood Park represented Lom Pa Yu Muay Thai in Toronto at the Canadian Muay Thai nationals tournament. Not only did Derek defeat Jake Mackenzie, he was also awarded the honor of “Best Athlete”. Awesome job, Derek!

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Love to compete, or just want to get in great shape this year? Come and check out our Muay Thai programs in St. Albert for ages 5 and up! E-mail us at tlarone@arashido.com or give us a call at 780-217-0059 for more information.

Muay Thai Culture and History – Wai Kru Rai Ram and Muay Boran Demonstration

In class students often hear Khun Tyson refer to Muay Boran, which is the ancestral martial art of Muay Thai. Indeed, when you watch Muay Thai and Muay Boran side by side it becomes clear that the basics of the style haven’t changed a whole lot, but there are subtle differences. For instance, in a warfare style like Muay Boran elbow strikes to the base of the skull and kicks directly to the knees are commonplace, as these sorts of blows are effective for immobilizing, maiming or killing an opponent quickly. In sport as a general rule, victory without lasting or irreparable damage to the opponent is the best case scenario. These kinds of strikes are illegal so as to allow for fighters to have long and accomplished careers.

This video begins with a demonstration of the Wai Kru Rai Ram, sometimes simply called the Ram Muay. This is a ritual of Muay Thai to this day, where fighters will perform a series of movements mixing fighting techniques and dance to pay respect to their trainers, family and ancestors. While most Ram Muay performances share a basic outline, most will have personal touches that may represent where they come from, where they train or their unique fighting style and personality.

Upon completion of the Ram Muay, they demonstrate some of the techniques of Muay Boran. You will recognize many of them from Muay Thai, but will see some techniques ill-suited to the rule set of modern muay thai as well as some grappling and throws that would be more characteristic of Judo or Jiu-Jitsu.

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A Brief History of MMA – Muay Thai

buddhas_thailand-t2In spite of the importance of the fists in mixed martial arts competitions, and in spite of the fact that boxing has always been a full-contact event, MMA requires more than just the fists to strike with. Thailand has a tradition of mixed martial arts events going back to the earliest records. While boxing is arguably the national combat sport of the English-speaking world, Muay Thai is without dispute the national sport of Thailand. There is even a Muay Thai Day celebrated on March 17 in honor of the sport and its place in Thailand’s national culture and history. 

Muay Thai is unique among historical full-contact sports due to a combination of several factors: the laxity of its rules, the length of time it has been practiced, and its enormous popularity throughout the millennia since its inception. Unlike the Roman pancratium, Muay Thai did not lose its popularity to other events; it has remained strong right up until today. It is thus the greatest example of a living, full-contact, mixed martial arts tradition. Modern kickboxing and the mixed martial arts style shoot boxing, both originating in Japan in the twentieth century, were inspired by it.

Nearby countries also practice the sport but under different names and sometimes with more extreme rules. The Burmese Lethwei traditionally had no rules at all. Even biting was allowed. A knocked-out competitor was asked upon revival if he wished to continue the fight. Only the acknowledged submission of the adversary enabled a competitor to win. An adversary’s simply refusing to submit no matter what occurred, including death, would result in a draw.

Muay Thai traditionally allowed striking with any part of the body. This meant that fists, elbows, knees, shins, feet, and the head were all used. Grappling was also allowed and was used for holding the opponent to deliver strikes and to slam the opponent to the ground. No part of the body was off-limits to attack, and some fighters specialized in striking the groin with the knee, foot, or other parts. Kicks were often aimed at the knee of the opponent’s supporting leg in order to break it.

As Muay Thai evolved as an art with military application just as wrestling styles did, the prohibition against continuing the fight on the ground is understandable. Fists were often wrapped in sturdy rope, and adding sharp materials to the rope was not unknown. Victory was attained by beating the adversary to such a degree that he could not continue the match. Thus, developing toughness was a key element in training. In more recent times the rules have been altered in favor of protecting the competitors more. Points are now tallied, head butts and groin strikes prohibited, and modern boxing gloves worn.

 

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