Master the art of eight limbs

Published Aug 31, 2014, 5:54 am IST
Updated Mar 31, 2019, 8:25 am IST
Muay tahi round house kick. (Photo: DC)
 Muay tahi round house kick. (Photo: DC)
Muay Thai, a combat sport from the muay martial arts of Thailand  has crossed the boundaries, giving access to a form of martial arts that uses stand-up striking and various clinching techniques. Its popularity as a fitness activity is fast growing, especially after action stars such Tony Jaa, Steven Seagal, Jean Claude Van Damme and Cynthia Rothrock made it popular in both films and regular interviews.  
It is also known as the art of eight limbs as it is characterised by the combined use of fists, elbows, knees, shins, in association with a good physical preparation and it also makes a full-contact fighter. Here are steps on how to perfect the art of Muay Thai with the help of a fitness expert.   
It improves your health and keeps you physically fit. It not only builds strong arms, legs and a strong stomach, but also helps gain inner strength and self-confidence. Muay Thai is both aerobic and an-aerobic workout, which puts great demand on cardio and muscular systems causing them to adapt and grow stronger eventually. If done regularly, one can get a lean, strong and well-toned body. 
Muay Thai Roundhouse Kick
This is an extremely powerful kick done by swinging the leg with force in an arc and hitting the target with the shin or the top of the foot. The swinging leg should be straight for most part like swinging a bat. Once the contact is made, it should be drawn back as quickly as it came in. 
Muay Thai Jab 
Jab if used properly is the quickest weapon in Muay Thai. Stand in a basic stance and extend the left or right hand stretched fully keeping the chin down and focusing on the target. Once fully extended and delivered, the hand should return to the guard position. 
Basic Stance 
Perfect stance is the first and most fundamental step you should learn in Muay Thai training. Start with hands slightly above temple level, legs shoulder width apart with dominant hand and leg at the back, weight should be equally balanced on both legs. The back leg heel is off the ground by an inch and the back is slightly hunched. 
Vertical and horizontal elbow strikes, Vertical elbow strike is done by swinging the elbow vertically upwards targeting the chin. Here you generate the power from slightly twisting the hip inwards. This technique needs speed, which means it has to be done as quickly as possible to be effective. Horizontal elbow strike technique is similar to vertical elbow strike but has to be done by swinging the elbow parallel to the ground targeting forehead, chin and ribs. 
Diagonal Knee Strike
It is most beneficial if done on a clinched opponent. The knee is diagonally brought up to the opponent’s ribs or thighs by pushing the hips forward. This will generate the extra momentum needed.
Shin Block, It is executed by raising the leg or shin to mostly block roundhouse kick to the body or leg. It is better practiced with the front leg first because most of the kicks are blocked from the front leg.
Elbow Block 
It is very useful when used for defense against an elbow strike or to deflect a jab. It is done by slightly raising the elbow vertically upwards and covering the forehead and chin from the basic stance position.
ZEN Sports and Fitness, the author is head trainer


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