Friday, August 03, 2007

Technique and Distance

Last week in my Muay Thai lessons we went over some old stuff and some new. The instructor made it apparent that he was not happy with the way we were progressing as far as our kicks were concerned. The beginners work on basic kicks such as the teep, rear Thai and switch kick.

The teep, or "push" kick is basically a thrust of the foot directly in front of you, usually (for me anyways) at the opponents midsection. It is usually used to create distance between you and your opponent. In the gym it is also called a "foot jab" because that is how it is used quite often - to jab your opponent. My flexibility isn't the best but it is getting better and I am trying to do stretching exercises every day so I can eventually use the teep higher up on the opponent. We work on both the short (rear leg) and long (front leg) teeps a lot. More than usual this week. Like I said, the instructor is not happy with our kicks. Something must have set him off.

I practice the teep a lot at home on my kickbag and think I have it down pretty well for a beginner. My thai kicks are a different story. I have a long way to go with them, but am happy with my progress. I have a nagging tendency not to rotate my front foot out enough, so I am stacking my hips and impeding the progress of the kick. Here is a cool video on the thai kick. I guess a lot of practice is what it will take. I have to keep reminding myself that it is like anything else - a golf swing, shooting baskets, whatever. You have to practice to get better.

We did a couple of awesome drills this week that opened my eyes a bit. One of the hardest things I have found as a beginner to MT is the issue of distance. Finding the range is another way to put it. Wednesday night we did a few drills that helped with this immensely. It was strange how well it worked. We would do a short teep, then switch kick. A switch kick should be defined. For a right handed fighter you have your left foot in front. In this stance your right leg is your rear Thai kick. In a switch kick you quickly reverse the position of your feet, making sure that your right foot is pointing at 2 o' clock. Then your left becomes your rear kick and you perform the kick as normal.

Anyway, from normal fight stance I did a teep with my left foot, then a switch so we were then using the left thai to strike the partners right thigh. The footwork was a bit complicated, but after I got it worked out it was remarkable - I could see "the distance". I kind of had one of those "ohhhh yeah" moments. It is hard to explain, but it is interesting how simple drills such as these help to bring things together. Range has got to be one of the hardest things for a beginner to understand and use. I am going to practice things like this more at home to keep trying to find my distance. The foot jabs will help me to create that distance. It really was an interesting week at the gym.

One side note - I have been getting lots of email about Muay Thai, what it is all about, and there is a lot of misunderstanding. Muay Thai is not really a popular sport here in the States, but is becoming more and more popular. It is really becoming popular in the fight set where it is pretty much required if you are going to hop into the ring and become a MMA fighter. Judging from the increasing size of my classes it looks like it may be on the rise for people who would like some self defense courses and who just like to workout (holy moly it was a sauna in the gym this week - I think the instructor likes to see us suffer). Here is a link to a great documentary done by the History Channel on Muay Thai. It is part of a series they did where they sent a couple of crazy guys to the home lands of several martial arts, gave them a little training and sent them into the ring to fight masters of the sport. Of course there is a lot of entertainment going on, but you get a lot of the history of Muay Thai as well as some basic info on the rules.

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