The Importance of Footwork in Muay Thai
Muay Thai Footwork
Different patterns of footwork:
Muay Thai has numerous patterns to its footwork. There are patterns to move forward, backward, diagonally, and sideways. In Muay Thai, the most essential motion in a fighter’s footwork is learning to step at an angle. This footwork is utilized in many techniques. You should be practicing this daily because it is the same footwork we use to throw most strikes. A single shift in your foot will determine the accuracy of a technique used. It will also determine how much power or speed is put behind the technique. Your stance should be set in a way where you are able to strike and defend at any given second. Keep yourself balanced and maintain your feet at shoulder width apart. Failing to do so will leave you vulnerable to getting hit. I will go over offensive footwork, defensive footwork, and the proper footwork to use while countering. Note: the following footwork will be described from the orthodox stance.
Different Offensive Footwork Techniques When Drilling, Sparring, or Fighting
While attacking or moving forward we have two major ways in which we can advance while throwing strikes. The first way is to “shuffle forward”. Shuffling forward is our most common form of footwork. While moving forward you should start off by taking a step with your lead foot and following with your back foot. It is important that you maintain your feet at shoulders width apart and stay in your fighting stance. Take the same distance of a step with both feet. For example, if your lead foot moves 2 inches your back foot should move the same amount of space in order to stay secure and balanced. If you move your lead foot 2 inches and your back foot 4 inches your stance will be too narrow and you will be vulnerable to getting hit or knocked off balance. The same goes for stepping with your lead foot 4 inches and your back foot 2 inches (or leaving your back foot in place). Your stance will be too wide, leaving yourself off balance, open to counters, and unable to properly defend yourself.
The second way to move forward is simply by “walking forward”. Take one step at a time the way we usually do when we walk, jog, or run. You can strike with each step that you take. For example, if you’re taking a step with your left foot you can strike with the left side (step with left foot while using the left jab). You can also take a step with the right side and while striking with the left side (step with right foot while using a left punch). It is an effective way not only to close the distance on your opponent but also to confuse them with the constant change of stance. The force generated by taking a full step forward adds power to the strike you will use.
Moving diagonally is used when throwing almost any strike in Muay Thai. You usually move your lead foot at a 45 degree angle to set up a kick, knee, punch, or elbow. You can also take a full step forward with your right foot at a 45 degree angle to set up your left strike. By doing so you insure that you are out of harm’s way while using your strike and place yourself in a position to fully rotate your body when using the technique. If you step straight forward while using your technique you are walking into your opponent’s strike. However, by simply stepping diagonally you can avoid taking shots while you stay within striking range. This will also allow you to get a full range of motion when committing to your strike as well as produce torque to add speed and power to your technique. It is difficult to pivot off of your foot when stepping straight forward, so in order to throw a correct Muay Thai technique you must step out diagonally. Only with a firm grasp of these fundamental offensive footwork techniques can one begin to truly advance in the art of Muay Thai.
Stay tuned to the next newsletter for “Defensive Footwork” techniques.
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