T Nation

Muay Thai Stances, Strategies Against Different Stances


So lately I have had a shitload of spare time on my hands and since I have hard time entertaining myself by watching TV and drinking beer I have spent the majority of the time training MT and sparring and have come across a few questions that have been bothering me. So I figured what the hell, lets see what the smart folks at the combat forum have to say about it, knowing we have quite a few great MT fighters here.

I remember theres been a bunch of discussion in boxing threads against the kind of stance guys like Hopkins use to intercept the opponents line of attack. Where I train on top of regular MT sparring we do a lot of sparring using only hands, only legs or clinching only. I myself like to use much more traditional upright thai stance. There are a couple of guys at my gym who prefer a stance like Hopkins where the head is off center and most of the weight on the rear foot, and I can't seem to land shit on these guys when just boxing. Now of course it somewhat limits their kicking game, which is an obvious disadvantage considering how highly kicking is favored in the scoring.

Still, considering how effortless yet effective this makes their boxing game look it makes me wonder if there is something I could take from their game or if there is something obvious I am missing about beating these guys? All sorts of discussion on the subject would be greatly apriciated regarding the situation, if someone has any video material on the subject that would be apriciated even more!


This is a thread ill be watching closely as your brought up something I've been honking about for a whole now.

I am trying to blend boxing and Muay Thai by learning them at the same time, as I feel that will make me a much better Muay Thai fighter (I'm further advanced in Muay Thai so this is my main focus).

As you say though, kicks score. And the more boxing you incorporate, the harder you tend to make it on yourself to kick. I'm quite new to this so I'd love to hear other people's thoughts on this.


One thing that people who utilize that stance like to do is to shoulder roll/deflect straight punches with the lead shoulder (right hands especially). Sometimes they will return fire with their own straight right or right uppercut (easier to deal with) and sometimes they will throw an immediate counter left hook either to the liver or head (harder to deal with if they have really good timing).

If they like to roll/deflect with the lead shoulder, then make them do it. Throw your right hand (either as a lead or after a jab/couple jabs) and immediately after (at the point where your punch makes contact) "pivot in"/take a step with your right/rear foot diagonally forwards to your right (imagine you are standing on a clock, normally your right foot would be somewhere between 5 and 4 o'clock, you want to step to around 2:30-3 o'clock) and slip your shoulders to the right at the same time.

If you do this correctly your opponent will miss their counter right hand (regardless if it's a straight shot, overhand, or uppercut) or you will wind up with an angle on your opponent if they don't immediately counter. If they do throw the counter right you can throw your own straight right hand either to their head (if they drop the left hand when they throw their right) or to the chest/arm to balance punch them if they keep their left up well and then follow with a left hook to either the head or body.

If they don't throw the counter right then the superior position you have gained should mean that your left hook will slip between their hands to their head or between their elbows to their body. A couple good combos here are:

1) left hook to the head (which will generally bring the arms to the front to attempt to block the hook, right uppercut to the chin (even if they manage to block the left their elbows will now to up leaving you room to come up under the arms to hit the chin/aim to actually hit their chest with the uppercut and your punch will naturally slide up the chest to the chin), they a final left hook either to the head (possible KO) or to the body (which can definitely hurt and will wear the opponent down, but could actually wake the opponent up if your uppercut KO'd them).

2) left hook to the body (generally causes the arms to drop and come to the center), straight right or 45 over the crease in the elbow to the head, left hook to the head or body

If the opponent likes to throw a left hook with their shoulder roll ala Lucia Rijker, then draw their left hook counter/fake your right hand to get them to throw it, then block/check their hook with your right arm and immediately counter with your own left hook to the head or body or right hand to the chin (depending on the angle).

After you do this to them a couple times they will think twice about shoulder rolling, you can start faking pivoting in to draw the opponent into trying to follow you and then repositioning back to your original position and catching your opponent in transition/in a more squared position relative to yours where they will be easier to hit.

You can also try using a "checking/turning hook" to their lead elbow/tricep while you pivot in to prevent your opponent from following you and slightly knock them off balance in the process if they are turning with you.

All of this requires one to be able to move dynamically and skillfully in any direction though, so make sure that your footwork is solid. You will also need to practice this quite a bit and have a solid jab/entering skills to be able to utilize this effectively in actual sparring.

Hope this helps.


Sure does, thanks a lot Sento! I'll work on this and see how it goes next time I have chance to mix it up with someone with the aforementioned style, won't be till next week at earliest though (fucking university freshman year lol), but I'll sure let you know once I get a chance to see how it goes!

As for footwork and jab, I'd say I'm halfway decent with both for someone who trains only in MT as not many coaches and fighters really stress this too much (our main coach is from thailand, has had 100+ something MT fights). The coaches who have trained in other disciplines definitely put more attention to it, but as in traditional thai fights you usually just see two guys standing in front of each other and kicking the fuck out of each other. When it comes to the jab, I think I must telegraph it a little too much, it works fine against guys who don't slip as much but against the kind of fighters I meantioned jabbing them usually gets me countered so I mostly prefer to fake the jab and try to catch their outside slip with a left hook which is one of my better punches. Probably something I should try to get on video for evaluation like Irish does, this place really is a remarkable resource for all things violence, really appriciate it! :smiley:


Cool, definitely let me know.

Some other things to try would be:

1) mix up your targets- a lot of people get very good at defending against punches to their head (probably because a lot of people are head hunters) and some also get very pretty good at defending the major body targets (liver, solar plexus, and heart). But most fighters don't utilize some other very effective (and difficult to protect) targets on the body. Some of this is due to the rules of boxing and some is perhaps because they simply don't think to.

Some good ones are:
-jab or straight right to the lead thigh (since you are training in a MT school this should be an acceptable target); aim to hit the outer upper half (there are exact specific spots that will do the most damage, but I'll let you play around with this and find them for yourself

-punching to the inside of the lead shoulder around the Acromion process (especially useful against someone who likes to use a "Philly Shell"/their lead shoulder to try to deflect punches); a good combo for this is to hit your opponent in the lead shoulder with a left hook (most people won't expect you to aim for their shoulder) to attempt to square up their shoulders to you and then throw a straight right again to the inside of the lead shoulder (again there are exact spots that will produce the most effect/pain/numbness, but really anything to this area is going to eventually start to really wear on/down the opponent's lead arm/hand and mess with their defense)

-punching the opponent's arms; three good targets here are the lead arm biceps, the pinky side of the wrist (actually the thumb side is good too, but is less easy to access most of the time), and the area Brachioradialis just below (closer to the wrist) the elbow on the forearm

Keep in mind that none of these will be fight enders, but they will spread your opponent's focus and also slowly start to wear down their defenses making it easier to eventually get to their primary targets. This probably won't make you the most popular training partner, but it is effective. You can of course combine this with what I mentioned earlier.

Good luck.


Got in a few rounds the other day, didn't really get to work a lot on the specific combinations you suggested but instead I tried to work on using my lead hook to stop him from slipping my shots and following up with a straight right.

Had some decent success with that and will definitely be experimenting with it more once I'll get some more time in the ring. Seems it'll probably be another week though, coming down with some kind of a flu and the rest of the week is kind of hectic...

I worked some focus mitts with one of the more experienced amateurs yesterday and we had a good discussion on the effectiveness of slipping and shoulder rolls in MT. Inspired by the plenty of times I've had my ass handed to me by guys who are better at boxing than me and seem to have little trouble slipping punches I've been trying to work on slipping straights and hooks.

I've had some success using this in sparring against guys my level or worse, but the guy I worked with yesterday suggested I probably shouldn't focus on it a lot because of the unpleasant possibility of getting my face kicked in while trying to slip a fake jab for example.

Blocking the punches with your hands and coming back with a kick or a few punches to set it up first is something you definitely see more in a MT fight but then again, traditional thai-style MT is a lot more about kicking the fuck out of the other guy than learning how to box.


That's kind of a weak argument against slipping though.

First, yeah it's possible to exploit/defeat a slip, but the same thing is true of any defense including blocking with the arms/hands. The advantage that slipping has over blocking is that it allows you to retain use of both of your arms as defensive weapons while simultaneously defending the incoming punch. So, you should put your emphasis on hitting back when you are slipping punches, not just dodging and doing nothing with the opportunity that you have created to strike your opponent (counter jab to the chest/shoulder if you are worried about getting kicked.

Second, if you are in the correct range to be slipping jabs (and are performing the motion correctly), then someone is going to need to have some serious flexibility to be able to head kick you (and even then it would be a lead leg kick and less powerful to begin with). Slipping to the left/outside on a right hand would be a little more dangerous, but again if you throw a counter right to the body (safer) or close the distance as you do so and follow with a counter left hook (thrown with defensive timing rather than offensive timing), that shouldn't be as much of a problem.

In the end, timing and judgement (along with good mechanics of course) are going to have more to do with whether it is successful than anything.


Great stuff as always, thank Sento! Throwing back right after slipping is something I've tried to work on a lot, getting the range and timing down little by little so more and more practice is all I need I guess :smiley: .


No problem. :slight_smile:

Also, I meant to say "slipping allows you to retain use of both arms as offensive weapons" in the above post, but hopefully you knew what I meant.

In regards to when to throw the counter strike...

There are two basic effective forms of timing here; defensive timing and offensive timing.

With defensive timing you throw your counter at the point when your opponent's strike would have landed. In this scenario your strike appears to follow your opponent's strike back in and hits them before they are able to fully regroup/recover. This is generally the type of counter striking timing that is taught first as it requires less skill/judgement in picking up on the opponent's incoming attacks and allows one to still counter effectively, even if they didn't see recognize the strike coming until late in it's trajectory. With this type of timing there is a distinct separation between the defensive maneuver and the counter attack.

Offensive timing on the other hand involves throwing your counter as the opponent's strike is still on it's way out. This requires either very good judgement and timing to be able to pick up on subtle telegraphs or patterns that your opponent engages in, extremely fast reaction time, or (easiest to learn IMO) strategically setting your opponent up to move how you want them to, when you want them to.

With offensive timing there is no separation between the defensive maneuver and the counter strike; both are performed as one motion. Offensive timing generally takes longer to develop, more understanding of strategy, and more judgement skills, but once you get it down your counters will land much more consistently IME.


Learn the slipping but do not use it unless you're sure of a hand only exchange. You'll never find a top tier Muay Thai Stylist ever use slipping unless the knees and feet are negated. One of the surest ways to go to sleep with an easy knee to the face.

Decide on what you want to do. By all means learning some boxing is effective at improving your hand accuracy, power, speed, technique etc but it gets muddled up when you have to take a back leg heavy stance. The 50/50 or 40/60 stance becomes negated. Weight transfer is different, you need to be able to spring a knee or leg kick fast at times. Sometimes being able to check is better for you than being able to slip.

Decide if you want to be a boxing thai stylist, a kicking thai stylist a boxer who kicks or a purist Muay Thai fighter. If it is the later, don't think you can come up with a better strategy than has been practised by the Thai or Dutch. Follow one of their styles and stick to it.


The classic Thai stance does negate a lot of head movement and boxing footwork skills (or at least make them less effective). If that is your chosen stance, then the more purist Thai/Dutch tactics will generally work better.


This is a great thread. I think this touches in those areas about stance and how and why they are different in MMA than they are in boxing. I have taken advice from several members on this forum in regards to stance. I was made aware that I stand to square and should blade my body more. I tried that and I think I have found a happy medium. I also tend to switch my weight balance somewhat and that can be a telegraph but I feel more versatile in my movement and options.
I have also noticed several guys I spar with use a Thai stance and the leg kicks are way telegraphed. Much of that is in the practicioner I know.

Personally I am more of an in your face kind of fighter, even though I try to practice head movement and footwork more and more.



You have spoken in other threads about how much boxing helped you with your MT. And that you feel a good boxing base is crucial to success as an MT fighter. It's something that I had been thinking myself since I started training at the start of the year. Especially given the reluctance of MT fighters to throw punches. They throw some, only ever to the head but they all kick probably 80% of the time. Which is only utilising 50% of your available tools.

However, this post makes it sound like it probably isn't worth it? If you can't really utilise the stance, footwork or defensive skills (slipping), then how much benefit is there to be gained from it?


Yes, which illustrates my point exactly. It takes years of both before you can effectively combine them.

If you decide from the start which direction you want to go and be sure about it, it can help you align your training.

By all means do the boxing, I stand by my original words from other threads, every fighter should have purist boxing as a base. It is much more beneficial than anything else in combat sport. Just don't expect it to automatically weave into your Muay Thai tapestry.

As for the slipping I still hold by my original statements above too. Unless you know it is an exchange free of feet and knees, don't do it.


Thanks for chiming in humble, was looking forward to hearing your thoughts on the subject! Going to have to try and book some sparring for Sunday to try and work on this stuff, really appriciate the insight guys!


Got in some 10 rounds of MT sparring yesterday, surprisingly enough having the feet in the mix I didn't have as many people slipping on me and sort of doing that step to the right/pivot thing I was able to avoid a lot of the painfull counters.

Overall nice session, need to get more work on mixing up kicks and punches though, clinch is coming along nicely though, was able to utilize that for turning some unfortunate situations to my favor a couple of times. Will see if I can get in some more work on this with one of the few heavyweights to crank things up a notch lol :smiley: