If you come to Muay thai from another fighting discipline something odd might strike you about the lack of footwork and the de-tuning that occurs with your movement that other martial arts instill in you.
The effect will vary from gym to gym and what your instructor teaches you and the style of Muay Thai that is present in your gym but you will notice it none the less.
DeathBlo noticed it very early on where the 'hit and don't get hit' philosophy of most fighting arts just does not exist in the same way in Muay Thai.
There are a number of reasons.
Standing your ground and using blocks instead of evasive movement is what you will learn with Muay Thai, taking the strike defensively, being on balance so that it does not topple you, moving slightly to absorb and catch the kick but rarely moving back or away. Being a solid rock that moves forward to chop with low kicks and be close enough to throw elbows and knees is Muay Thai.
It is the use of these close in weapons that DeathBlo thinks is one of the reason that footwork takes a back seat in Muay Thai.
A boxer will close distance by leaping in, a taekwondo practitioner will do the same but a Nakmuay will work their way in methodically behind a few setup strikes and they will plant their feet firmly and securely to get the leverage that a knee or an elbow requires.
Another reason for a lack of footwork is the way your body needs to be planted in the earth to be able to effectively transition from punches to kicks to elbows to knees. It is not easy to be on balance to be able to deliver any one of these strikes when the moment dictates unless you are grounded and balanced.If you are shifting weight too often, by moving like a points fighter, you will find it hard to 'set' and throw.
A boxer can get away with being off balance while throwing a punch because they are not setting up for a kick, they can hit and exit and reset.It does not need to be pretty.
A Taekwondo kick (an extremely effective fighting system) can come all spinney and cinematic because it is probably going to be a single strike and exit without a followup punch or knee or elbow.
This is not the muay thai way.
This is not what traditional muay thai wants and it does not score with the judges.
Another reason for a lack of movement is the requirement to often 'be heavy'.
If you are light on your toes, you can more easily be swept. Physics dictates that if you mitigate the effects of gravity with a bounce in your step, you will weigh almost nothing for a second while gravity realises you are trying to escape and then re-engages its pull on your mass. An experienced Nak Muay is looking for those seconds when you are partially airborne, especially in the clinch or after your kick has been caught.
To be an effective Nakmuay you will probably need to come to terms with this concept....you will need to condition yourself to absorb a strike and use the very Muay Thai specific guards and blocks to be able to stand, move forward and strike without complex foot movement.
Plenty of fighters will argue that Muay Thai is missing a trick with its basic footwork and that it will eventually evolve with more kickboxing and boxing influences creeping in.To be honest, you can already see it with the Dutch style of MuayThai which throws boxing like combinations to set up kicks and with Thai fighters like Saenchai who is very light on his toes and does not move in the traditional way.He alone is the counter argument to the heavy planted tick-tock style that epitomises Muay Thai.
You can also see a kind of evolution of Muay Thai from within K1 rules events which is basically a class of fight event using techniques from Muay Thai, Karate, Taekwondo, Savate, San shou, Kickboxing and traditional Boxing. Check out Nieky Holzken vs Joe Valtellini.
For new Nakmuay who need to see how Muay Thai can defeat the more nimble fight styles, you need to check out Rick Roufus V Changpuek Kietsongtrit ( white elephant). A tough and accomplished American kick boxer in silky trousers against a 7 time Muay Thai world champion.
This fight has been written about many times and for good reason, it changed fighting forever and confirmed Muay Thai as the pre-eminent and most effective sports fight style over all others. It is now the striking basis for most MMA fighters.
If your fight style is naturally movement based, try standing your ground next time you spar. It will take a conscious effort to use blocks and guards to defend instead of sliding out of the way.
What you will notice, once you become accustomed to the discomfort of taking strikes, is that you will use less energy which will give you an advantage over a movement based opponent and if you train yourself to strike immediately after absorbing your opponents attack, you will quickly take away their confidence in throwing. You will also be in range, always.
But.....make sure your guard is good!!
Remember, you can deploy a movement style or more tradition style whenever you want if you train both styles.Your opponent may be one or the other so being able to adapt may neutralise their strengths if you figure them out and make a switch.
Enjoy the process Nakmuay and we welcome any comments as we love debating technique. You may have a different opinion and that is cool.
The DeathBlo Collective