The destination is the most important part of the journey. Learn where (and how) to slam home your punches, kicks and elbows. . .


Is someone who indiscriminately flings specks of paint at a canvas considered to be an “artist”? Perhaps, but don’t expect him or her to produce any Mona Lisas anytime soon.

Is someone who strikes without aim or purpose considered to be a “fighter”? Perhaps, too, but don’t expect any championship titles or even victories from this person.

Too often do those just starting out in Muay Thai learn to strike without a destination for the fist, foot, knee, or elbow in mind. Sometimes people are taught to “just punch” or “just kick” without being informed on the most effective regions for doing so.

Knowing where to land your strikes makes all the difference and, even better, can prevent you from getting hurt.


With punches, aim to connect with the target with your first two big knuckles (the ones connected to the index and middle fingers). The first two knuckles are the strongest and most durable knuckles, meaning they will hurt whatever or whoever you’re punching.

Many people punch with the knuckles connected to the ring and pinky fingers. These last two knuckles, however, are the weakest. You run the risk of hurting your hand when you keep using them to punch over and over (more so if you’re punching with increased power).

You can make sure you’re punching with your first two knuckles by extending your arms all the way out when you punch. Don’t leave the elbow bent as you hit the target. As the arm straightens, the wrist and hand will turn so the first two knuckles are most distant from you, becoming the first to make contact.


Ideally, you want your elbow strikes to land right at the tip of the joint – where it’s the sharpest, hardest, and will do the most damage/draw a lot of blood.

If the joint can’t connect, then the part of your forearm closest to the elbow should make contact. This way, the sharp part is still involved in the hit. Even if it’s not directly on the target, it will still hurt your opponent.

This can be done by making sure your hand is close to your face or body when you throw elbows. This narrows the space between your bicep and forearm, increasing your chances of landing closer to the tip of the elbow.


Kicks, depending on who you ask, can land anywhere from the top of your shin all the way down to your instep. Any one of these are correct, so long as you take distance into account.

When you kick someone who’s closer, it makes sense that you want to land closer to the top of your shin, as that part of your leg is extremely hard. A strong, hard kick to the ribs can send an opponent down to the canvas. When someone is further away, you should be happy to land a kick with your instep. After all, a kick is still a kick and if it lands, it counts.

Generally speaking, kicks that impact closer to your feet are faster, but kicks closer to your knee are much more powerful.

Use the above advice for training, sparring and fighting. Hit hard and protect yourself at the same time by knowing where on your body you should make contact with strikes.


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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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