Without defensive techniques, a fighter is little more than a glass cannon waiting to be shattered. . .


As many ways as there are to attack, there are even more avenues for defending yourself. Look to masters of combat and, time and time again, see a master of defense. No one stays unbeaten or untouched without impregnable defenses.

BUT! If someone were holding a gun to my head, demanding that I narrow all the defensive skills down to just the bare minimum… the stuff that you absolutely need and can’t do without… then here’s what you, at bare minimum, need to know:

DEFENSIVE CORE #1: Blocking Kicks

Checking kicks is basic but a lot of people still don’t do them in fights. They try to catch kicks with your gloves or just take them in the arm, thinking only of how to strike back. Blocking kicks with your shins is vital! If you take kicks, they’re the ones scoring and you’re the one taking the damage!

Damage always adds up: absorbing middle kicks leads to bruised, broken ribs, and eating low kicks leads to weak legs that can potentially stop the fight. If you block kicks, you keep them from scoring and gaining confidence, and you discourage them from just attacking. The less you block, the harder you’re going to make it for yourself.

DEFENSIVE CORE #2: Using Long Guard

Unlike Western boxing, Muay Thai includes elbows. If you block with your palms on your head, you’re eventually going to be in for some stitches. The long guard prevents the elbows from reaching your head, and even if they reach your face, your gloves are there to protect you.

The long guard also prevents an incoming opponent from seeing, making them doubt their game plan. The long guard can be utilized to block incoming punches as well.

DEFENSIVE CORE #3: Controlling Arms in the Clinch

Clinching may not seem like a defensive skill… and, in and of itself, it’s not. However, the clinching concept of keeping your arms in the inside position is what’s going to prevent your opponent from tossing you around and elbowing you in super close range. Controlling their arms allows you to dominate, and judges will see it as just that.

If you’re on the outside, you’re open to being elbowed or losing control of your opponent. Once they come in to clinch, your arms need to make their way to the inside position – practice it during clinching and during padwork. Once it becomes habit, it’ll be easy to do.

Sean “Muay Thai Guy” Fagan presents

Author Profile

Angela Chang
Plant-based fighter, foodie, and aspiring physical therapist. Angela is currently living in Bangkok and training full time.

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