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Kevin von Duuglas-Ittu

Repeated Muay Thai Techniques That Are Unstoppable - Leg Kicks, Liver Shots, Elbows

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There are probably some caveats to this, but I'm really interested in a family of techniques that tend to be neglected because if you throw them in isolation they really don't seem to be all that effective, but if you really throw them repeated, with volume, they are not only effective, against some classes of opponents he can be unstoppable. Low kicks are maybe the most obvious of these. You don't see a lot of low kick fighters in Muay Thai's Thailand mostly because they don't score very highly, and maybe because they feel like a kind of "low hanging fruit" blow? But this is exactly the kind of technique I'm talking about. You don't throw 1 or 2 low kicks. You throw 15. And you'll see that they'll have no effect, no effect, no effect. And then bam, the fight is over. There are lots of examples of this in Muay Thai (despite the technique being relatively shunned), a favorite is our friend JR's fight up in Chiangmai:

It's really to say - and I guess this is the meaning behind this post - the results are just so damn harsh, the risk so relatively low, the only reason why I can imagine that low kicks are not a widely used attack is simply that illusion that they aren't effective just when trying them out one at a time. Many fighters test them, play with them and move on, and never take them heavily into their arsenal. As with all these techniques I'm talking about, these are volume commitments. You need to feast heavy on them because their efficacy comes in loads of use. They'll just look like they are doing nothing. And then they bust through. Another one that comes to mind is liver hunting shots. Another fight-ender that will look like it's doing nothing at all, until it suddenly does. In fact the decay time for liver shots and leg kicks feels the same. Nothing, nothing, nothing. Now fight over. When the sweet spot happens, finished. And like leg kicks, there is a cumulative effect. The body starts to swell, sensitivity grows, and the target you have to hit to end it all increases. The number of fighters who liver hunt is pretty damn small in Muay Thai, given that this is a knockout blow (incidentally, I strike I suspect is much more effective against big weight cut opponents). In the end though, it feels like this strike fails in popularity for the same reasons. It just doesn't seem like it is doing something, until it does. A third high-repetition technique that lacks some in popularity are elbows. It's fair to say that elbows are popular in the mind's-eye. They are a flashy, attractive part of Muay Thai, but they have a repetition dimension that is pretty rarely explored. One elbow, two. They either land or they don't. 5 elbows, 10 elbows in a span just break down the guard and eventually get through. They are blocked, blocked, blocked, and then not. There is a feeling of being exposed when you throw elbows, so I can see why they are not often thrown in bunches, but I suspect it is more than that. It's the same sense that they might not be effective, or maybe a lack of trust that after one is blocked, the 3rd or the 5th in high volume won't get through. It will. The fighter who really revolutionized this kind of attack was Yodkhunpon The Elbow Hunter of 100 Stitches. He was the first high profile Thai fighter willing to throw elbow on top of elbow (which stylistically was seen as brutish, femeu fighters preferring the well-timed, painterly elbow). He was willing to throw 20 in a round, knowing that they would eventually get through, or at least seriously distort the opponent and open them up to knees. 

Yodkhunpon teaching some of his high-repetition philosophy:

In the above he links them to knees and other strikes, but really what he wants is a high-metronome elbow attack. One that expects to hit guard, break guard, turtle the opponent.

What I find interesting is that each of these strikes are more or less unstoppable when heavily used in high volume, at least against the kinds of opponents 99.999% of anyone reading this would ever face. These are really devastating attacks. There are definite psychological hurdles in becoming a leg, liver or elbow hunter, but he biggest one seems to be belief. Belief that the 5th one, the 20th one, the 40th one will get through (or, the knowledge that all that banked action has distorted your opponent so severely there are many ways to take advantage of it). I'm tempted to add, at least for Muay Thai, uppercuts, to the list. It's not quite the same as the 3 above, but it took is a somewhat effective strike that in high-volume has a "break through" quality. Fighters that commit to uppercuts, especially in Muay Thai where defense against them is less trained, can be very, very potent. 

I'd love to hear your thoughts on these Unstoppable Strikes, and hear if you have others in mind that have the same kind of "break through" quality, and probably should be much more popular if people simply believed in them more.

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Do much info to talk about lol, Ill just talk about the low kick. Its one of my favorites and I tend to specialize in it. I do think some of why it might not be used as much as it should is the low hanging fruit idea, meaning its too easy. Let me tell you, its not. Besides needing buildup to take someone out, theres the simple check that not only stops the kick, it can damage a weapon you need to win. I was taught to check two different ways 1) with the knee cap turned out towards the ankle of the kick and 2) with the knee cap jammed towards the shin. The second one seems like a no no but it actually works well with minor damage to yourself but shuts down the kicker hard. These things make it so one has to be really smart in how they throw low kicks to make them effective, which means a lot of practice on a technique that may seem low in its effectiveness compared to body and head kicks. The thing is, again from experience, if you practice the set ups, timing, and tricks of the low kick, it is REALLY effective and doesnt need that much time in a fight to end it. One of my favorite fighters, not in muay Thai but kickboxing, Bazooka Joe Vallentini has a whole system behind how he low kicks, even with how he places the kicking leg in return based on his goals. He has tester kicks (probes on defense and over all reaction) that he throws a specific way vs damagers. He has specific set ups and counters. Its enlightening how much effort hes put into studying something that might be considered low percentage effective. Just shows that its a really good technique. And thats just one of what you brought up. I imagine theres a lot of similarity to the others too. 

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Ok I lied lol I gotta talk about the liver shot too. I have a current fighter who I specifically taught and teach body destruction to. He won his last fight by making his opponent quit in the third (tko) by repeated body attacks (finished by knees in the clinch). He has a nasty lead middle kick he targets the liver and dropped opponents with. I think with the liver, it has to be hit dead on to really get that ko effect. Obviously some people arent as susceptible, but with most I think its just slightly missing the target. The rest of the body takes time to get results, so if you miss the liver shot its just a regular body shot. Good but time investing. I teach that body shots are small money in the bank for later rounds, make as many deposits as you can to invest in your future. So if you miss the liver no big deal. Im gonna go on a limb and say the reason I think people dont target the body as much, especially in the US, is because of the need for an early ko and the practice of those techniques which can produce that. Its been lamented frequently by my peers and my betters about the lack of training to attack the body outside of western boxing. Having a boxing background Ive always seen the value of it not just as a target but in producing the head as a target again after an opponent shells up from past head attacks. Probably the most famous example is Mike Tyson and how he'd use body shots to open the guard of boxers for his nasty uppercuts. Theyd shell, he'd hit the shell amd dig the shell into their body opening the pillars of their guard, giving him a clean line up the middle to their chin. Body shots in general are as important as leg kicks. Both techniques have such a wide use tactically its really ignorant to not study the hell out've them. With that I give a shout out to Sitmonchai gym for specializing in leg attacks and the high low of body/head/leg tactics. 

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9 hours ago, James Poidog said:

I think with the liver, it has to be hit dead on to really get that ko effect.

I think early in the fight, yes, the target for a KO is pretty small, but if you keep hitting that area the sensitive "shock" area actually grows over time. A forth round near miss will put someone out if that rib area has been peppered several times, whereas the same shot might have done nothing much (visible) in the first. Much as the leg starts to swell and be more ready to go, I think the body protecting the liver also grows more ready to shock. (As I've written elsewhere, I also think this expanding zone of sensitivity is even more dramatic if there have been re-hydration problems from weight cut, etc.)

Edit: In the larger sense, what interests me is how these kinds of attacks require additional investment. You have to insist on them. In some ways all strikes require investment. You don't throw 3 jabs all fight and really have "a jab". You need to jab regularly and repeatedly. But, there are some kinds of attacks that have huge pay offs (fight enders), but usually after a series of only so-so effects. Just to snag a recent ringside example I had from a month or so ago in a local stadium, I was watching a farang fighter face a Thai who was much better than him in the overall sense (but had not fought in 3 years, called "off the couch" so to speak). The farang wasn't bad, he was in better shape though. After several close calls in the first, in the second the westerner went to a very insistent elbow. Over and over and over. 95% were not landing at all. But it just started stressing the Thai, and stress became distress. It was incredible to just see the Thai melt (he's a friend of ours). The insistence made it happen. Throw only 3 of those, the whole fight goes another way. Throw 20, he just overwhelmed the Thai. It feels like this is a kind of secret automatic win strategy that few go for. It amazes me that these big payday attacks are just relatively under-used. And I wonder why? It is fighter psychology? Lack of knowledge or awareness? The only fight ender everyone knows and loves is the head KO.

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In my experience, the repetition of a strike is mental very quickly after it's physical, and that aspect of it sets up everything else. The anticipation of the strike can make you tense or flinch or miss the fact that it's a misdirection. The fear of it can get you to stay too far away. The emotional doubt of not being able to block it if it keeps landing. These can be strikes that aren't even that hard or physically effective, but emotionally they're killer. My current sparring partner is Southpaw and he lands this lead-hand uppercut, followed by cross, that just gets in my head. He only has to land it once and then I'm just looking for it the rest of the round. He sneaks that uppercut in, it's not even that hard, but it hits pretty clean even through a good guard and it casts doubt on the whole guard. It's interesting. You can always steal that kind of thing from your partners/opponents. What works against you certainly will work for you against others.

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I was able to witness that live in a K1 fight I watched. One guy was fighting this Russian fighter and right away in the first round the Russian landed a first lowkick flush on his opponents thigh with a loud resounding *SMACK*. A lot of people where like whoa! He obviously had prepared to make good use of this weapon and he went on to do so. More and more of his leg kicks started landing when he snuck them in all the time with good setups and ALL of them were damn hard.

Needless to say, the damage racked up quickly and made his opponent very vary of the lowkick threat. Naturally that made him even more susceptible as the fear of more legkicks hitting just threw off the rest of his game. Not that I blame him.... that Russian took him clean of BOTH his legs one time (where mostly that only happens if a fighter is on only one leg).

The fight ended with a KO through those legkicks. The man just was not able to get up on his own anymore and had to be supported by his trainer to leave the ring.

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14 hours ago, Kevin von Duuglas-Ittu said:

I think early in the fight, yes, the target for a KO is pretty small, but if you keep hitting that area the sensitive "shock" area actually grows over time. A forth round near miss will put someone out if that rib area has been peppered several times, whereas the same shot might have done nothing much (visible) in the first. Much as the leg starts to swell and be more ready to go, I think the body protecting the liver also grows more ready to shock. (As I've written elsewhere, I also think this expanding zone of sensitivity is even more dramatic if there have been re-hydration problems from weight cut, etc.)

Edit: In the larger sense, what interests me is how these kinds of attacks require additional investment. You have to insist on them. In some ways all strikes require investment. You don't throw 3 jabs all fight and really have "a jab". You need to jab regularly and repeatedly. But, there are some kinds of attacks that have huge pay offs (fight enders), but usually after a series of only so-so effects. Just to snag a recent ringside example I had from a month or so ago in a local stadium, I was watching a farang fighter face a Thai who was much better than him in the overall sense (but had not fought in 3 years, called "off the couch" so to speak). The farang wasn't bad, he was in better shape though. After several close calls in the first, in the second the westerner went to a very insistent elbow. Over and over and over. 95% were not landing at all. But it just started stressing the Thai, and stress became distress. It was incredible to just see the Thai melt (he's a friend of ours). The insistence made it happen. Throw only 3 of those, the whole fight goes another way. Throw 20, he just overwhelmed the Thai. It feels like this is a kind of secret automatic win strategy that few go for. It amazes me that these big payday attacks are just relatively under-used. And I wonder why? It is fighter psychology? Lack of knowledge or awareness? The only fight ender everyone knows and loves is the head KO.

Totally agree with that. The body definitely gets more sensitive over the course of the fight. Money in the bank 

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