In the Art of Eight Limbs, sometimes two is all it takes. This is how to leave punchers on the canvas. . .


In most Muay Thai settings, people are taught boxing combinations chained with a kick or two. The hands are often used as both tools of distraction and damage, and because of this, many nak muay become punchers. They tend to throw a high volume of punches in comparison to a traditional Thai skill set where kicks and knees are the stars of the show.

This can also be because of the different scoring systems outside of Thailand. Many commissions look for “effective strikes” regardless of which limb they come from. Sometimes aggression alone can win a fight. While each fighter has a tool that he or she prefers to use, there are fighters who favor using their hands above all else, and it shows when they spar and fight.

When going up against a puncher, don’t just stand there and take those punches! That’s exactly what they want you to do (and their drive to hurt you with those punches will only increase if you show you’re not fighting back). Luckily, are a few ways to deter your opponent from just coming in with punches. These exact same methods can also allow you to score back (and maybe hurt them, too) as they continue their punchy assault.


The teep is probably the most effective yet simplest way to deter a puncher who throws a lot of hands. For your opponent to land a punch, they’d have to get much closer to you than if they were to throw a kick. By teeping them, they will not be able to get into a punch range and therefore will not be able to land any punches.

Remain unpredictable by varying the positions of teeps (to the thigh, to their midsection, side teep, etc.) as well as using feints so it makes it harder for the puncher to time when the teeps are coming. This way, the chances of them catching or sweeping your teep to the side are lowered.


Similar to the teep, kicks deter a puncher but in a more powerful way. While a teep may not hurt (much), it does a good job at keeping someone away. Kicks, on the other hand, are not in themselves a way to keep someone at bay, but the fact that they hurt more will, in most cases, make that opponent think twice about lunging in with a punch.

Kicks to the body hurt more because the ribs have less “padding” on them than the midsection and because of the pivotal nature of kicks that allows them to generate more force upon contact. Kicks to the arm will slow down a heavy puncher as they worry about getting kicked in the head. Moreover, taking kicks to the arm does damage that adds up over the rounds. Hematomas, fractured and broken bones – these things have stopped fights before, purely from pain. If you watch any of Sitthichai or Petpanomrung’s fights in GLORY kickboxing, you’ll see how effective this tactic is.


When they’re coming in for punches, look for openings for elbows:

  • Do they drop their other hand?
  • Is there a space down the middle that exposes their face?

When you find the opening, time for when they come in and punch, and aim the elbows at those areas. When they’re throwing straight punches (jabs or crosses), slip your head when you throw the elbow. When they’re throwing punches that come in from the side (hooks), keep your chest and hands up as you get in close for the elbow, or make them miss and capitalize on them being out of position by throwing an elbow.


If they’re already within punching range and you can’t get them away, bring them closer to you by grabbing them in the clinch. In the clinch, you’re nullifying their ability to throw powerful punches, and you’re able to score with brutal knees.

Going up against a puncher can be scary because it’s difficult to see and breathe as they’re punching you in the face. But there are a few ways to deal with them effectively, taking away their favorite weapons and making them not as useful. Work on these on the heavy bag drills to develop technique and when you spar, you can use real-life timing to land these strikes.

Sean “Muay Thai Guy” Fagan Presents

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

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