The Systematic Approach to Muay Thai

Feb 4, 2023Muay Thai

Systematic Muay Thai

Similar to how John Danaher teaches the fundamentals of BJJ in a systematic way, Muay Thai has core techniques that need to be drilled repeatedly to ingrain the proper mechanics. As a beginner, focus on perfecting your stance, footwork, basic punches like the jab and cross, elbow strikes, kicks like the roundhouse and teep, and basic blocks/parries. Mastering the basics is not flashy, but vital to developing solid striking skills.

Prioritize Technique Over Power

It’s tempting as a new student to throw everything with maximum power. However, this will ingrain poor technique and increase your risk of injury. Take the time to learn proper striking mechanics, even if it means sacrificing some power initially. Once you’ve engraved flawless technique, then begin adding more speed and power. Think of it as building a solid foundation before raising up the walls and roof.

Drill for Repetitions, Not Time

Simply putting in hours hitting pads or bags will not necessarily engrain good technique. You must seek high repetition of quality reps. Use a coach to observe and correct flaws. Drill small details like proper hip rotation on kicks and turning the fist inward on punches. Treat drills as honing your technique, not just cardio or conditioning.

Isolate Individual Techniques

Borrowing concepts from BJJ, it helps to isolate positions for focused study. For example, spend an entire session just on perfecting the roundhouse kick. Work on setups, different targets, catching the kick, defending the counter, and combinations off it. By isolating techniques into modules, you can accelerate your learning.

Spar at the Right Stages

Hard sparring too early will create bad habits due to fatigue and survival mode. But avoiding sparring completely stunts your ability to apply techniques. Build your skills in stages from light technical sparring up to hard sparring against experienced partners once fundamentals are established. This allows you to pressure test in a safe environment.

Understand the Principles

There are underlying concepts and strategies that work across multiple techniques, just like in BJJ. For example, controlling distance, angling off strikes, and attacking rhythm. Study the principles to better tie your skills together into an effective overall system. Learning isolated techniques is not enough.

Specialize In Offense and Defense

It’s easy to only practice techniques you find fun or flashy. However, you must spend time sharpening your weaknesses too. If you struggle with defense and counters, dedicate focused training to improving these areas. Shore up holes in your game by specializing your training over time toward problem areas.

Embrace the Grind

Ultimately, excellence in Muay Thai requires embracing the grind of repetitious training that perfects technique. You must choose consistency in the fundamentals over variety and flash. Put in the daily work of high quality, focused training according to the system that yields results over time. There are no shortcuts.

Study Tape and Apply Lessons

Watching video of yourself and top strikers allows you to compare your technique side-by-side. Identify small adjustments in stance, hip rotation, or footwork and apply them to your training. Great technique improvements often come from studying and implementing lessons from tape study.

Allow Techniques to Sink In Over Time

It’s easy to get frustrated if techniques don’t click right away. However, learning striking movements takes time as your body adjusts to new motions and mechanics. Stick with a technique through focused reps, then revisit it again weeks later. You’ll find things start to click as your body integrates the movements.

Seek Coaching Feedback

It’s nearly impossible to sense and adjust all flaws in your technique by yourself. Working with an experienced coach who observes you strike daily will identify areas for improvement much quicker than self-analysis. Be open to feedback and don’t get defensive. The right coaching helps fast track your progress.

Start Slow to Build Good Habits

Another concept from BJJ – start new techniques very slowly focusing only on perfect mechanics. Once the right habits are ingrained into muscle memory with perfect reps, then you can add speed and power. Starting too quickly builds detrimental habits requiring more time to undo and relearn later.

Integrate Technique and Strength & Conditioning

Don’t silo strength training. Look for ways to develop strength in the specific ranges of motion required for Muay Thai techniques. Bodyweight and resistance training can complement your technique training if programmed intelligently based on your needs in the ring.

Refine Details Over Time

Expect to continually refine micro details in your technique over years of training. For example, adjust your exact foot position by an inch or angle your knee a few degrees on a kick. These micro refinements over time continue developing your technique to mastery level.

Applying BJJ Concepts to Muay Thai Training

By adopting a systematic approach focused on high repetition quality technique, students can accelerate their Muay Thai progress like how John Danaher produces Brazilian jiu jitsu champions. Apex MMA integrates some of these systematic concepts such as drilling for repetitions rather than time spent and isolating offensive and defensive techniques into separate focused training sessions to produce well-rounded Nak Muay. The grind of daily training is embraced to ingrain proper technique and continual refinement.


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Team Apex MMA Martial Arts Coach
Apex MMA is a specialist mixed martial arts gym focusing on Muay Thai and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. Led by an experienced team of instructors, Apex MMA offers comprehensive training programs for students of all ages and skill levels. With Apex MMA's systematic teaching methods, passion for martial arts, and strong community relationships, you will gain the tools to succeed in the gym and beyond.
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