These are the basics – the techniques and principles that enable best offensive and defensive practices… and they’re just so easy to forget in the middle of a fight, aren’t they?
HOW MANY OF THESE BASIC MISTAKES DO YOU MAKE?
If there is only one set of skills you need throughout your Muay Thai journey, it’s your BASICS!
Basics are your foundation to learning intermediate and advanced techniques. Having a strong foundation means you can learn everything else efficiently and effectively.
You should be able to implement your basic techniques with speed and power. Pure basics win fights, whereas pure flashy moves never get anyone too far on their own.
Even for those with great basics, nobody is perfect. Sometimes people forget the things they learned when just starting out, and due to bad habits not being corrected, the correct action is not performed anymore. We see these technique deficiencies in even the best of fighters.
Here’s what we tend to forget over time – and some advice on how to remedy these problems.
MISTAKE #1: NOT TUCKING THAT CHIN!
Keeping your chin down is an obvious thing to do. It protects your jaw, nose, brain, plus it allows you to see and use head movement much better.
Many nak muay fail to keep up this good habit during sparring. They hang their chins in the air, as if waiting to be hit!
Some people do this because they want to be able to see without getting hit in the eye (which is not always the case with doing this) and to breathe easier, but it is a terrible habit people need to break.
Sticking a ball under your chin as you hit the bag is a good exercise to do to create an automatic habit.
MISTAKE #2: FORGETTING TO DEFEND WITH YOUR NON-ACTIVE HAND
Jab -> cross -> hook.
You move in quickly, landing the jab and then the cross. But in the middle of your cross, you get hit on the other side of your face. This happens to a lot of people because they’re not keeping their not-in-use hand when striking.
When a fighter plans to throw a strike, he or she drops the hand that will punch next in anticipation. Go back to the days when you practiced keeping up the opposite hand by doing things slowly, then picking up the pace and power as the habit became ingrained.
MISTAKE #3: TENSION, TENSION, TENSION
As the training gets more difficult, people can get very tense, especially in their shoulders. This creates tight muscles and uses up energy unnecessarily.
Staying too tense also inhibits your speed and power from their full potential. Stay aware of your muscles. Tell yourself to relax over and over again (fake it ’til you make it).
“Check in” with yourself frequently to see if you’re tensing up. If you are, you’ll often find that simple, consistent check-ins and self-awareness tends to fix this problem over time.
MISTAKE #4: LETTING THE EYES WANDER WITHOUT A TARGET
A common mistake beginners make is darting their eyes from side to side during padwork. They also tend to look at the place they’re about to strike during sparring.
Keeping the eyes fixed on a spot (the opponent’s chin or chest) will allow you to fight more reactively without giving away any “tells” to your sparring partner. You will also avoid getting dizzy from looking everywhere!
OK, ‘fess up: how many of these did you realize that you do now, either through consistent bad habits or “forgetting” to do the correct action?
Use your future training sessions to be mindful of these mistakes and fix them. We all make mistakes and this is what motivates us to grow and build our fighting arsenal.
- Plant-based fighter, foodie, and aspiring physical therapist. Angela is currently living in Bangkok and training full time.