Closing the distance on your opponent is a critical skill to develop for Muay Thai. Without it, short fighters will always lose to tall ones. . .
HOW TO GET IN ON YOUR OPPONENT & SCORE THE KO
Closing the distance is something everyone should learn how to do. If you’re shorter than your opponent, it’s crucial. If you have better hands, elbows, knees, or clinch game, it’s just as important to learn as well.
Attempting to close the distance is quite annoying to many for good reason: being the aggressor, they are usually constantly eating shots and they get frustrated when they can’t land anything.
Have no fear – there are a few techniques you can try out your next sparring session to help you get closer to your sparring partner.
#1: SET UP YOUR STRIKES & USE FEINTS
Perhaps one of the most overlooked facts of Muay Thai 101 is to set up your strikes. This means that if you want to really land that right kick to the body, you don’t just throw the kick. Instead, do something else to distract your opponent.
If they think something else is coming towards them, they won’t block for it. This is exactly why feinting is so useful. Setting up your strikes, like using a boxing combination before kicking, gives them more to worry about.
Put yourself in their shoes – if you only had to worry about one type of attack, you would just have to block those every time you see your opponent move towards you. However, if they changed it up, you wouldn’t know what’s coming at you ahead of time.
Distraction allows you to do what you want while making them think (a bit too much) about what can possibly be coming at them.
#2: STRIKE & DEFEND AS YOU’RE WALKING IN
If you want to get in, don’t just charge forward like a bull. This is an invitation for them to do whatever they please with you.
If you know they’re likely to kick, lift your legs up as you’re closing the distance. If they like to punch, keep your guard up nice and high. Throw a few jabs yourself to gauge how close you’re getting. This also blocks their vision so it’s easier for you to step in.
#3: STAY IN FRONT OF YOUR OPPONENT
As you’re attempting to close the distance, always stay in front of them. If they move to your right, you step to the right. Same if they move to the left or if they’re going backwards. If you let them circle out and get away, you have to start all over again.
A benefit of staying right in front of them is that the pressure will tire them out. If you can keep the distance relatively the same and keep inching forward now and then, you’ll be that much closer to getting to the range you want to be in.
#4: GET THEM ON THE ROPES OR IN A CORNER
If you are able to stay in front of them, chances are that you will be successful in leading them to where you want to be. Getting them onto the ropes or in a corner will minimize them being able to get away, and you will be able to get inside.
This will also look great for you in the judges’ eyes – better ring control and more aggression.
Closing the distance and being able to hit is the only way to score. Closing the gap is possible with practice and a few tactics that should be practiced in the gym over and over.
- Plant-based fighter, foodie, and aspiring physical therapist. Angela is currently living in Bangkok and training full time.