Muay Thai Knee o Knee Strike
Because muay thai knees and not knees in general, simply because they are real specialists.
That’s why I decided to make this post with an important focus on Muay Thai talking about kneeling, because many martial arts have developed knee blows but Muay Thai is one of those that has used and developed them through decades of combat sports matches.
The knees in muay thai are a central attack arsenal pulled from medium distance, short distance and clinch.
You have understood well the knee is not only pulled from short distance and clinch but it is a shot from the middle distance to understand us from the punch distance.
The knees are one of the most powerful attack tools ever due to the power that develops even with a short loading and structural hardness of the knee.
Often knee attacks are not allowed in some sparring sessions of many martial arts and combat sports for security reasons but this is not for Muay Thai where they are actually widely used in sparring.
Being a potentially dangerous blow even without inserting a lot of power a bit as is the case for elbows all other techniques should be practiced only under the supervision of a qualified instructor and with the right protections in order to prevent injuries and to ensure that the correct technique is used. Also remember that all martial arts and combat sports techniques and workouts should be used safely and responsibly.
Remember that kneeling during a Thai boxing match helps increase your score so learning to pull them increases your attack arsenal in matches if you want to become a competitive practitioner
Unfortunately, you often only see your knees used from clinch distance when you have to and you can pull them into the striking and most fighters go into crisis if you use your knees well from that distance as well as from the clinch.
Your knees are amazing so learn to use them well by training them to expand your attack arsenal!
A bit of history of this technique in Muay Thai
Today the knees in Muay Thai are widely used but in the past it was not so and there are discordant versions about the period in which the use that is seen today of knee techniques began.
In the past the only kneeling techniques used during matches were the flyingkneeling(Khao Lai) andtheskipped knee (Khao Dode),preciselybecause the fists were bandaged with these particular bandages.
It was practically impossible to grab the opponent from the neck with these neck-soaked bands without causing him to cut and hurt the match.
Only after the introduction of Thai boxing gloves was it possible to evolve the various Muay Thai kneeling techniques that we know today.
If the knee technique is optimal, clean, explosive, it is a type of attack that is difficult for the opponent to avoid.
Type of kneeling
In Thai, Muay Thai’s knees are called Khao and are one of the deadliest weapons in Thai boxing.
The knee can be:
- with advanced leg or
- with the back leg
but varies according to technique.
The knee with the advanced leg and then how to understand depending on the situation or distance how to set this attack.
Basically you can do it in 2 ways:
Depending on the situation, decide whether to use the step change or take a step directly.
- If the opponent remains static in front of you, you prefer the first method.
- Instead, if he jumps back, he uses the second strategy to cover more space.
The impact force when performed with good technique and timing can be devastating, as for elbow shots with the famous elbows of Muay Thai.
In Muay Thai, the knees are divided into 7 categories:
- Khao Trong– Straight Knee, is performed by directing the knee in front of him or climbing towards the chin.
- Khao Dode – Missed knee, performs like the front knee with the difference that the Thai boxer,during the execution, makesa leap forward so as to give greater strength to the attack.
- Khao Noi as G Short eyed is used to counter the opponent’s knee or kick.
- Khao Kratai
Khao La – G
designed to free himself from an attack, it is a technique used to break free from the clinch.
Khao Lod –
Low-ionted G is a very useful Thai boxing technique if you want to tire your opponent.
- Khao Lai – Ghooted flying or in English Flying Knee, is a very powerful Thai boxing technique that, if well executed, is able to put K.O. the opponent.
- Khao Yao – Knee Bomb – Knee jumped but after performing a double step forward, taking the chase.
- Legs (mainly thighs in the quadriceps area hitting from the outside, from the inside, directed, from under a kick in the femoral biceps, etc.)
- Body (Sternum, Ribbed, Low Abdomen) attention no genitals because it is a sport with a regulation
- Head (Chin, Temples, Nose, Orbital Areas, etc.)
Kneeling to be effective must be an explosive and powerful blow.
How to attack with a knees of muay thai?
The best method to attack via a knee is to lift your knee right in front of you in the direction of your chosen target.
The areas to be hit by this technique are the body along the center line and the chin, liver and spleen, some say do not try to hit your opponent’s ribs with a kneeling that for this attack there are thai boxing kicks, but I do not agree with this statement.
In case your knee misses the target it can easily become a frontal kick that will not be very strong but will avoid the counterattack of your opponent on the knee gone empty.
This kick will not be a high-impact attack but will be enough to destabilize the other fighter and make him vulnerable to other attacks.
How to train your knees
To increase the ability to use Muay Thai’s knees is
- the packed practice,
- to the pao (read this post),
- the void,
- and sparring.
The direct knee or clinch to be carried requires an average or short distance that leads you to be very close to your opponent and his shots and needs practice and experience to be comfortable at that distance and to bring effective shots, it is a distance that requires a lot of practice and experience.
The knees in the sack
You have to be able to do them correctly if you want to upgrade this shot, I basically recommend 2 exercises that you can do for this purpose:
- Push the bag and hit it with a strong knee at the right time, when it’s coming back,
- Grab the chains or ropes of the heavy bag with your hands and make repeated knees,direct, door-to-door, jump, etc!
You are doing a packed exercise with direct knees or from the clinch, pay attention to the position of the body, balance, relaxation, impact direction, etc.
It is important to train/study the knees empty or in the bag and then understand how to hold your arms and how to position yourself correctly compared to an opponent or the sack.
Methods of knee attack
To attack in the correct way with a knee it is not enough just to lift it and hit the chosen target because it is a real technical gesture to make the knee effective and powerful..
If you do not have the right technical knowledge for proper execution the chance of success will be really limited.
A fundamental thing to keep in mind is the direction of kneeling that to be effective it must be direct and frontal if to the body, as well as the detail of the tip of the foot so as to be ready to kick in case the knee does not go well or empty.
The knee you can pull it from the medium distance or the clinch, it is important to learn to pull your knees even without grabbing your opponent from the neck or shoulders.
Muay Thai’s kneeling technique can also be used when your opponent keeps a very tight and high guard limited to the face.
In this case you have to try to get into the other fighter’s guard, grab it behind the clinch neck and throw a knee upwards, to hit the chin or directed to the stomach or sternum.
Distance is always an important aspect but it is even more important with the knee because the distance between you and your opponent must allow you to make the movements in the correct way.
Sparring is the best method to learn how to really use this attack technique by doing dedicated sessions such as conditional sparring to isolate the technique by dividing the rounds by sparring knees from the clinch, sparring only knees, free sparring, but I recommend complete protection.
Sparring made in this way allows you to experience this technique and also develop defensive skills that are fundamental and thanks to your master who guides sparring or filming you can correct defects and this is much more than you could do on your own with packed training.
The final test to see if your workouts have been effective is the ring match or sparring sessions with agonists if you’re not a fighter doing matches.
Khao Tone – Frontal knee
It is one of thai boxing’s most prized frontal knees and in this case it is performed as a direct knee without grabbing the clinching opponent to hit him with a knee to the body or chin.
The main targets are the abdomen (liver and spleen), sternum or chin if you are very long as a lever or your opponent lowers your head to strike.
It’s a shot that’s given from the medium or short distance and is often pulled in combination with elbow strokes to make the attack really devastating.
The direct knee technique is not easy to perform because in addition to the ability to be in the right range of attack for this shot, the ability to balance takes over while blowing up the blow that must be lightning and attention with the high guard that can be a mask but that is still fundamental because in addition to protecting you it allows you to maintain balance and chain other attacks.
The direction is straight when it is facing the abdomen and for this reason it is a complicated movement and often you see kneeling with directions of force with a component that goes to disperse the energy generated.
If the distance is wrong or the action is not lightning fast you risk not reaching the target so train this technique a lot during sparring.
Often this attack technique is done by doddling an opponent’s fist attack and placing the shot under his shot taking advantage of the fact that the opponent comes forward with his weight carrying the shot you dodged.
It can also be pulled from the clinch but we see it in the specific Khao Katai technique which is the
linged g of the clinch.
The frontal knee is also useful to defend against a high kick.
One of the ways to parry a high kick is to lift your knee as if for a frontal knee to your face and bend your elbow with your fist up.
In this way the opponent’s kick can affect the knee and part of the thigh, but no vital point of your body.
Thanks to this defense you are immediately able to counterattack immediately.
Attention that often an opponent pretends to want to hit you with this technique and then hit you with boxing techniques while you are with your knee raised and your arm to parry the high kick.
Muay Thai’s frontal knee defense?
There are many ways you can parry let’s see some of them:
- Evasion by exploiting footwork,
- With his knee,
- With elbows diverting the direction of the shot and counterattacking,
- With elbows from the guard position going to hit the thigh,
- With gloves on the opponent’s knee but beware that you are lowering your guard and it can often be a fake to place a elbow to the face,
- Anticipating with a frontal kick that makes the Thai boxer move away from you,
- To effectively defend yourself from a frontal knee during a close encounter you can also grab your opponent’s life and push him back so that he loses his balance and does not give him a chance to hit you with a knee.
Be careful that when even you have to respond immediately because often the guard is open or uncovered and you can easily hit it with a punch.
Another example is the kneeling from defending against a direct.
Your opponent, on close guard, gives you a direct to the face area and you can retreat one step tododge the blow or move to one side and the missed targets will losethe balance of the other Thai boxer and it will be easy to hit him with boxing techniques or knees.
Or your opponent, on tight guard, gives you a direct to the area of the face and you can deflect the blow while simultaneously lashing a knee right under the blow you have fired.
Or on a Hook attack
If your opponent is going to hit you with a hook at the height of your ears, you can take the shot by raising your arm, while with the other you grab the shoulder of the other Thai boxer.
Push it hard down and hit it with a well-placed frontal knee at chin or chest height depends on your height, your opponent’s height, how much you can bend it down and climb with your knee.
The difference is that this kneeling technique is performed with a jump towards the opponent.
You can perform it from the guard or clinch by grabbing your opponent with your advanced leg or back leg.
The main difference between the skipped knee and the flying knee is that the first is performed with a single jump and not with a scissors.
The main targets of the human body for this knee technique is the mouth of the stomach and the area of the chin.
As with the execution of most Muay Thai techniques,where the explosiveness of the shots ischaracteristic also in this case the speed and the execution decision is important.
The defense from Kao Done is to move from the opponent’s trajectory and hit him with a direct.
It is a short knee from close range and the target is
- the inside of the thigh very close to the knee or
- the thigh frontally
- or externally.
The impact force of this knee if precise is important and can cause the T to lose confidence youhave Boxerreceiving it who feels he loses support and ability to move.
It is also used to change the opponent’s guard by creating openings to hit or unbalance the opponent and insert other attack techniques.
The defense from this knee is contact or move the leg, but beware of projections.
It is a very effective technique especially when used in combination because it destructures the base of your opponent and creates openings to insert other types of knees.
or Khao La – Lateral or circular knee – The Curved Knee Strike
It is pulled circular or door-to-door
In the circular knee the foot of the knee it hits is horizontal as if you were pulling a kick but holding your foot bent and impacting the knee, it is a very powerful knee.
In the door knee the foot of the knee that impacts remains vertical opening the hip well and returning to the ribs of your opponent as if you closed a door, it is a knee that needs precision and speed to be effective.
It is normally used by the clinch when the opponent loses the balance shifted by your manipulation of the center line and the areas to be hit are the body at the height of the ribs, the thighs.
In order to practice this technique during a match you have to bring the opponent’s head from the clinch by making it unbalance towards the direction from which the knee comes.
It is a technique that you can do in the bag or with a training partner by grabbing the bag as if you were going into clinch and performing alternating knees on the right and left at the door or circular.
Khao Loi – Flying Knee
Flying kneeling it is performed as the jumped knee with the difference of the jump used for technical execution where with this technique you must first lift your left foot and then push it to the ground to give you the greatest possible thrust for the jump (the opposite you use right foot if you are left-handed like me), and at the same time raise your right knee as high as possible with the intention of hitting the body or chin of the opponent.
As soon as you are close to your opponent used your arms to open and discover the guard of the other Thai boxer to place the skipped knee or place othershots.
attention! that if not done correctly exposes you to your opponent’s shots because you are in flight and when you land you have to recover the position and these times if you do not target they can be exploited by your opponent to hit you.
As with any football technique, even with the knee it is important to always keep your guard high by taking advantage of single and combined mask covers that allow you to have momentum and protect yourself from counterattacks while you are performing the attack technique!
To effectively defend yourself from this thai boxing technique there are several methods:
- Luk Tieb or frontal kick: when the Thai boxer is preparing to perform the flying knee and lift the first foot, do not give him time to lay it on the ground but hit him with a kick to the other leg at the height of the tibia. This way you make him lose his balance and you can easily hit him maybe in turn with a knee jumped. This is an ancient blow.
- Avoid it: since the flying knee is a very strong attack, you could play on the fact that you are faster than your opponent and then dodge it and take off through the footwork.
Khao Lod – Low Knee
It is a little-used technique and is the direct consequence of flying kneeling in case it does not work by correcting the trajectory of the knee downwards in order to hit the abdominal area.
A technique much more used in the past but very useful even today.
Impact is more of a boost and mainly helps you avoid your opponent’s counterattack after you miss the target with your knees skipped.
It is a more unusual technique but that when trained provides your arsenal with new attack possibilities.
Khao Youn or Khao Yao – Knee Bomb
It is a knee with chased performing at least a double step to enter with a powerful knee to break through.
It is often used when creating a space and the opponent is at the corner.
Some tips regarding Muay Thai’s kneeling:
- He’s going to take a knee and lift his knee.
- Remember to always have your guard high when knee attacks
- Since most knees don’t score, take advantage of them to counterattack with punches, elbows, or kicks.
- If the knee execution pace is inconsistent it will be easier to hit your opponent.
- Be careful when you clinch (grab the neck of the other fighter) to attack it with a knee because your opponent could grab you by the raised leg and make you lose your balance.
- When you attack with your knees you have to be decided otherwise you become more vulnerable to opposing attacks, the knee is explosive.
- Don’t stiffen up and stay mobile
- Use the clinch to move your opponent’s body and lash out powerful and precise knees
- Understand where you can get to hit with your knees directed not only by clinch is important.
Khao Katai – Clinch Knee
It is one of the characteristic knees of Muay Thai, often also used in MMA and is a very effective and useful Muay Thai technique when the opponent tries to block you with a clinch.
While performing this technique you are in a very close position with your opponent and your attacks must be intense and fast so as to exhaust the other Thai boxer.
Try multiple knee attacks if possible!
It is important to use the clinch in the neck or for life to move it on the right trajectory of the knee increasing the effectiveness of the technique.
The defense from this knee is to attach yourself well to the body of the opponent so as not to let your head down or throw a left or right to the opponent’s abs while he has his hands high in clinch at that time and will be guarding uncovered at the bottom but beware of elbows.
To properly perform this technique, approach the other fighter, grab it by the neck or shoulders, and pull the opponent’s body down so that you can hit it with a knee and maybe even place a elbow or elbow sequence in sequence.
This is not an easy-to-perform technique because in addition to the technical ability to pull your knees you need technical skills to get into clinch and grab your opponent made in speed and lightning decision for the clinching phase and the moment of attack.
If the execution time has not been well calculated, you will not be able to hit your opponent with this technique indeed you risk exposing yourself to his shots and for this reason it is important to learn the correct pace of attack necessary to perform the frontal knee optimally.
It is very important to train the clinch phase!
Don’t rush or look for the clinch if the conditions aren’t there because you risk allowing the other fighter to get inside your guard and export to his attacks but when you decide to pull a knees the front the shot must be precise and clear, no uncertainties, because your opponent could exploit this uncertainty against you by anticipating and placing his shots or avoiding your attack.
Attention! If during one meeting the other Thai boxer lifts your knee doesn’t mean that it’s really going to hit with a frontalknee, the tactic might just be to confuse you and then hit you with another Thai boxing technique.
It is therefore essential to know the correct way to attack with the Khao Katai in order to anticipate the defensive or attack actions of the opponent.
For example, if the other fighter is in the guard position, advance with the Yang Sam Khum movement
Stretch one arm, the one closest to the opponent’s shoulder, or even both hands if possible, and pull the fighter forcefully towards you.
This movement must be explosive and fast to attack it so as not to risk getting attacked in turn.
How much to pull your opponent down?
This all depends on who you are in front of and when you perform this technique, such as physical structure, height, etc.
If the other fighter is taller than you you have to put more force on his neck to force him to bend over a Thai boxer who is lower dova the force to impress will be less but also depends on the physical structure of your opponent.
As soon as your opponent’s torso has reached the ideal height, make an attack with a knee to the face, chest or liver, spleen.
The impact of a frontal knee is much more powerful than a lateral knee.
This technique if well performed should not be repeated because if the frontal knee has been scored, your opponent will have difficulty responding correctly to your subsequent attacks because it is severely affected.
If you have to pull a lot of continuous kneeling it means you’re not really targeting.
After a well-placed blow your opponent’s guard will lower to protect the part of the body you just hit and it is at this time that you have to place a elbow to the chin or base of the ear.
As soon as he raises his guard to protect his face, hit him again with a frontal knee and so on.
The frontal knee is not only a weapon of attack but is also an excellent weapon of defense against other thai boxing techniques put in place during a match.
Properly chaining punches, elbows and knees without creating breaks and consequently getting stuck in the middle of an attack risking leaving room for your opponent is crucial!.
Kneeling and personal defense
Knees with a focus on personal defense are a powerful arsenal where clearly the primary targets are the face area (mouth/nose) and the genitals.
Many limbs and personal defense systems integrate your knees but the ability to use it on an attacker who threatens you by surprising him (so you’re being the aggressor) should always be distinguished from a fighting situation where you’re both in action and use your knees in this context.
Often in most educational videos of personal defense you create an expectation that in reality would be disappointed because the opponent does not have that passivity.
It is important to understand how to use kneeling for personal defense within a precise context and doing proper training so as not to create an illusion in people’s minds and fundamentally put them in danger in the event of aggression.
All techniques, exercises and stretches must be supervised by a trained instructor in order to prevent injury and to ensure that the correct technique is used.
Now I hope you have very clear what are the possible knees and technical elements on which you have to work to start using your knees in the striking and not only more from the clinch.
Street Fight Mentality & Fight Sport