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Muay Thai Techniques


Knee Strikes in Thai Boxing


Kneeing This is an important technique for blocking attacks or as a second attack at your opponent. (It is used for close fighting. You must practice building up the power and speed of both of your knees. Practice by stepping forward and lifting up the other leg, with jyour knee bent up toward your chest. At the same time, bend your body sideways and into your knee. For example, when lifting up your left knee toward your chest, your body will bend down toward the left. And vice versa for the right knee and side. When you use this technique depends upon the situation of the fight, your own strategy and tactics, and how close you are to your opponent. See the picture above.

Kao (Knee) is considered a lethal weapon in Thai boxing. Its violent force is on the same par with the elbow, if the user is versed with adequate techniques and good timing. In Thai boxing, 
The opponent can be finished off quickly when Kao Loi hits the target.

Methods using the Knee

The proper way to throw of the knee is to thrust it straight upwards. One should not attempt to throw it diagonally so that it would merely rub the flank of the opponent. The real targets of the knee lies from the area around the body upwards towards the chin, the thrust of the knee must be straight, powerful, and sharp. At the same time, the knee used can readily be turned into a thrusting kick to push the opponent away, if your knee thrust should miss the target or if it’s been delivered.
This is due to the simple fact that every time the knee hits the target correctly the opponent will double up with pains from the blow. Then he will try to jerk his body away or scramble to get away. At this point, you should be ready to thrust a kick with the tip of the foot. Suck kick should unsettle the opponent sufficiently for you to follow up with other weapons.

The practise of knee throwing in a boxing camp, against the punching bag, and in sparring will help increase the boxer’s agility in using this lethat weapon in the ring.

When using thrusts the user should be confident of his knee hitting the target. The force of the knee throw will help to push up the score. Before the delivery of this weapons, you must attempt to mislead your opponent as to the tool and angle of attack. You will use when he is deceived, throw your knee close to your target. You should keep in mind that when stepping in to thrust your knee, the tip of your foot should be as near as possible to your opponent, as the power of the knee thrust will increase in proportion to such proximity.

The proper way to throw the knee in Thai boxing

To throw the knee properly is not simply to lift it, ! and thrust it at the target, and then expect the desired result. In fact, if the user does not possess good techniques, the chance of success is very slim. The proper knee thrust must move straight, .not wavering towards any other direction.
The tip of the foot must point up when throwing the knee so as to be ready to thrust a pecking kick to the opponent’s body if the knee misses the target (Illustration).

The knee can be used in the following circumstances.

When the opponent maintains a very tight guard covering his body and face, you have to step in to attack.

f you are right-handed, you step in with the left foot. But if you are left-handed, you step in with the right foot. Be careful to raise your own guard. The objective of moving in is to focus better on the target and to lessen the distance in which the knee has to travel. All these will contribute to the making of a powerful knee thrust. When
the left foot steps forward, use your hand to push apart your opponent’s guard. Upon the penetration of his guard, use your left arm which should be pointing out towards you opponent enabling you to reach for the back of his neck. Your gloved left fist should force down his neck.

While you opponent’s neck is inclining downward, push your right foot backward. The distance must be just right, or else the momentum will not be there. You must stiffen your outstretched arm and press it down hard on your opponent’s neck so as to overcome his resistance.
At that point, jerk back the right leg and thrust the knee straight at the target. The most vuinerable areas are the solar plexus, the lower abdomen, and the stomach.

The only way to build up confidence at this is to have a lot of sparrings in the camp. This way you will gain speed and experience from working out with your trainer while you try to hit the target. However, the'final test of ability only comes with the actual fight in the ring.

Then one finds out the hard way whether one makes the grade or not. It is not all that straight forward to grasp your opponent’s neck and press it down for a knee trust, especially when some opponents like to apply Vasaline to make their neck slippery. In such a case, it is very tricky to use one’s gloved fist to get the proper hold of the neck. As you can see the a proper knee thrust depends a lot on techniques and tactics.

Types of Kicking


Muay Thai Straight Knee Strike:


 Kow-trong (Staight Knee) Step forward I with your left foot, shifting your weight onto it. Grab

II your opponent’s neck with both of your hands. At the [ same time, bend and lift your knee straight up into your I opponent’s stomach, chest, or chin. Push off of your I left foot and rotate your waist to give you more power.

Aspects of the Straight Knee Strikes:

Kao Tone (Straight knee)

It is not known from what period the technique of Kao Tone actually originated. The history of its evolution is quite scratchy. However, it can be guessed with a fair degree of certainty that its adoption come into being after the abolition of string-bound fists. In the past, only Kao Loi (Flying Knee) Kao Dode (Jumping Knee) were used, no one dared to apply other techniques of the knee thrust for fear of the sharpness of the raw cotton bands that were used to bind the fists. The sharpness was caused by the stiff edges formed on the material as a result of the combination of sweat, blood, flesh, and rice glue together. Therefor the bound fists made cuts anywhere on the opponent’s body. During the era of string-bound fists, those who attempted to press down the opponent’s neck for a proper knee thrust always met with pains, since the
opponent would scratch his fists along the face or other important parts of the knee user, causing cuts and lacerations.

When Thai boxing moved from the bound-fists era to the wearing of gloves, getting hold of the neck for a knee thrust become a less painful manouvre for the knee thrower. The transition gave rise to the evolution of new
techniques. Now one can merely thrust the knee straight upwards against the target. There is no need to jump up to deliver the knee thrust as in the past. Kao Tone is not really much different from Kao Dode.

If you can properly throw the knee according to boxing tactics, it is defficult for anyone to defeat you. But unfortunately even with the long passage of time, the new variations of knee thrust have not inflicted as much damage on the opponent as they should have.

Straight knee for blocking - Kow-sa-gud (Blocking Knee) - In your guard stance, step forward with your left foot while leaning forward and springing your right leg up straight. Bend your knee up and push off of your left foot. Aim your rising knee 30 degrees toward the target areas of your opponent, which are the stomach and chest.

Muay Thai Flying Knee:


Kow-loay (Flying Knee) Move quickly toward your opponent to build momentum, then jump forward. At the same time, bend your right knee straight up. Added power will come from the jump and from your waist rotating forward with the knee. This attack is aimed at the chest and chin.


Kao Loi

Kao Loi has contradictory attributes. They can be very useful and at the same time very detrimental to the user. To use this technique without composure and intelligence will prove to be very painful because of possible lethal counter-attack.
Kao Loi is carried out in the same way as Kao Dode. The difference lies in the requirements of each respective jump. In the case of Kao Loi, if you are right handed, you

have to lift the left foot above the floor and then push it against the floor to spring yourself upwards, simultaneously thrusting the right knee and aiming for somewhere higher on his body, like the top of the chest or the chin. While the knee is travelling to its point of impact, use your guarding arms to wade through the opponent’s guard,

pushing it apart, or eise the opponent might use the fist to push against your chest, thus tripping you backward into the possible embrace of defeat.

There are several opportunities for using Kao Loi. If you can confuse the opponent, and you see a big enough gap. You should thrust Kao Loi right away.


The modem day Thai boxers often will put up his guard in a peculiar manner, which will leave a large gap of his body, a target which beckons for an appropriate painful treatment. If you find a chance, throw your knee at the desired target.

Aspects of the Flying Knee:

To defend and counter against Kao Loi Kao Loi can be countered and defended against in several ways

- Luk Tieb (Thrusting kick)

When the opponent raises his foot for the first time and about to push off from the floor to spring for the knee thrust with the other knee, spoil his move by thrusting a kick to the opponent’s first leg. This will upset his balance causing him to fall. At this moment, move in and bang a Kao Dode home.

* Stepping away Although Kao Loi is very lethal, you can use speed to beat it. You step out of range, then the Kao Loi will be harmless. The opponent will lose his balance and expose himself to your counter-attack.

- Faked fall This trick was once used very successfully by Praya Dab Hak when he faught Nai Hao, an invincible boxing master in the boxing circle of Так Province. This faked fall is done by throwing oneself to the floor. Lying there with the knees and elbows bent to protect against the jump on top by the opponent. If he wants to crush you, you just thrust a kick to push him away.
Kao Lod (Lower Knee) is a sequel to Kao Loi. If the user of Kao Loi misses the target, he should lower the knee against the lower abdomen or the solar plexus area, If it really hits the target, the opponent will be stopped in his track.

In the past, if the boxers missed with either Kao Tone, Kao Dade, or Kao Loi, they would lower their knee to strike at other parts of their opponent’s body.
Kao Noi (Small knee) This is one knee thrust which could really hurt. It is aimed against the inside upper thigh of the opponent during the clinch when your opponent’s legs press against your legs. The thrust of this Kao Noi can seriously shaken your opponent, and you canfollow up with Kao Tone as he tries to drag his leg away. If the opponent counters by inserting his knee between your legs, beat him off by pushing him backward.

Muay Thai Curving Knee:


Kow-khoong (Curving Knee) Step forward with your left foot. Grab your opponent’s neck with both of your hands and shift your weight onto your left foot. At the same time, bend and push your knee up and to the right. Then swing it hard to the left. Push off your left foot and use the rotation of your waist for more power. The target area is the ribs (in this case, the left ribs) of your opponent.

Muay Thai Step Up Knee:

Variation of Straight Knee Strike. We just add a step of forwarding leg.

Muay Thai Knee Strikes in a Clinch:​

Aspects of the Clinch Knee Strikes:

text from the books:

"Muay Thai Self Study" by Blackrouse group

"Muay Thai. The Most Distinguished Art Of Fighting" by Panya Kraitus

Muay Thai
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Kyokushin Karate (Kypkushinkai)
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