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LengLeng

Chicken elbows a typical muay thai thing?

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Since the start of this year I have been practicing Myanmar traditional boxing after two years of training muay thai in Thailand. These are similar, but also very different sports. 

For example, this sport focuses much more on hands and most trainers would correct my punches, making them more straight, hence enhance knuckle power (you fight bare-knuckled). 

I've recently have had the pleasure to train with an older very knowledgeable teacher who has operated his gym since 1982. He is in general very interested in most martial arts and has a lot of respect for muay thai as well. And the first thing he said when he saw my punches was that they were typical muay thai punches with the elbows slightly bent. 

The thing is,, yes! I have seen it plenty of times, muay thai fighters on pads with slightly bent arms. But I've never had a muay thai teacher telling me to have my arms bent. They have always focused on getting my arms straight and punches more powerful. 

So I am just wondering, where this is coming from?

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I've never seen that bent elbow thing purposefully trained. I think there's a tendency toward it because of how pads are held, lots of fighters probably imitate each other, and then it's never corrected. When I see corrections in Muay Thai, it's always toward straighter punches. I've never, ever seen that weird chicken wing punch taught, instructed, or praised. It's just tolerated... a lot.

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2 hours ago, Sylvie von Duuglas-Ittu said:

I've never seen that bent elbow thing purposefully trained. I think there's a tendency toward it because of how pads are held, lots of fighters probably imitate each other, and then it's never corrected. When I see corrections in Muay Thai, it's always toward straighter punches. I've never, ever seen that weird chicken wing punch taught, instructed, or praised. It's just tolerated... a lot.

Yesh it sounds about right. Such a weird thing that from the outside it's a muay thai thing when it's well not really. My teacher said something about it's good for catching kicks fast 😏. Anyhow very difficult for me to unlearn. 

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On 9/17/2020 at 6:56 PM, LengLeng said:

Yesh it sounds about right. Such a weird thing that from the outside it's a muay thai thing when it's well not really. My teacher said something about it's good for catching kicks fast 😏. Anyhow very difficult for me to unlearn. 

Sagat in the Muay Thai Library was the first one to really push hard at getting rid of this in Sylvie. It was a major point of his. Everything from within the frame. Sylvie would stand with her side against a wall to get the feeling right. Sagat was a pro boxer as well, and came from a boxing gym. Gyms with connections to boxing are much better at getting this right. Lots and lots of Muay Thai gyms get into bad habits with their winging punching, holding pads wide. Not only does it make punches less accurate, less consistent, I think the chicken wing also helps the opponent see the punch a hair sooner. When it come straight out of the body its very hard to see, track or gauge the speed of. I think this is a huge problem in Thailand's Muay Thai, to be honest.

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It's something I have to train out of people often. I see a lot of people doing it, and there is an idea amongst some coaches that the flared elbows are some how to make kicks easier to catch. 

For me though, if it does/doesn't make it easier to catch a kick, I would still rather my fighter hit them while they're on one leg as opposed to catch. And you don't NEED those flared elbows to be able to catch a kick, but you do need a tighter stance in order to have quicker more powerful punches.

So if I have someone that flares their elbows a lot, I will try getting their arms in tighter (but not so tight that they'll be kicked in the arms all day). Ideally so they can not only go on offence, but use a cross guard and mummy guard easier too!

But that's also a part of my relationship with a fighter I train, I'd advise you NOT to do it personally, but at the end of the day you're not working with me, and for sake of argument your coach might have a plan or style that values things I don't.

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11 hours ago, AndyMaBobs said:

some coaches that the flared elbows are some how to make kicks easier to catch....And you don't NEED those flared elbows to be able to catch a kick

This "to catch a kick" idea is just a ridiculous thing. I think Kenshin promulgated it? I can't recall. First of all you do NOT want to catch kicks in Thailand, you want to check them. When you catch a kick you have lost a point. You have been scored upon. At general best you can get the point back, but you've given up a point. Yeah, there can be a sweep or whatnot, but the idea that Thais are somehow adopting really terrible punching techniques in order to catch kicks easier is flatly ridiculous. Honestly, it's just habitual poor technique that has somehow become widespread in Thailand that people are making up reasons for. Yes, Thailand has the best fighters in the world, but training protocols and knowledge of optimal technique is constantly shifting, and sometimes in certain lines of gyms it actually devolves.

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21 hours ago, Kevin von Duuglas-Ittu said:

Sagat in the Muay Thai Library was the first one to really push hard at getting rid of this in Sylvie. It was a major point of his. Everything from within the frame. Sylvie would stand with her side against a wall to get the feeling right. Sagat was a pro boxer as well, and came from a boxing gym. Gyms with connections to boxing are much better at getting this right. Lots and lots of Muay Thai gyms get into bad habits with their winging punching, holding pads wide. Not only does it make punches less accurate, less consistent, I think the chicken wing also helps the opponent see the punch a hair sooner. When it come straight out of the body its very hard to see, track or gauge the speed of. I think this is a huge problem in Thailand's Muay Thai, to be honest.

Yes you definitely see a bent punch faster than a straight one. I had Vero Nika (she fought against Sawsing last year) try to teach me straight punches. She has the most beautiful straight powerful punches. 

I'm gonna try the wall thing, great tip.

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On 9/19/2020 at 11:11 PM, AndyMaBobs said:

It's something I have to train out of people often. I see a lot of people doing it, and there is an idea amongst some coaches that the flared elbows are some how to make kicks easier to catch. 

For me though, if it does/doesn't make it easier to catch a kick, I would still rather my fighter hit them while they're on one leg as opposed to catch. And you don't NEED those flared elbows to be able to catch a kick, but you do need a tighter stance in order to have quicker more powerful punches.

So if I have someone that flares their elbows a lot, I will try getting their arms in tighter (but not so tight that they'll be kicked in the arms all day). Ideally so they can not only go on offence, but use a cross guard and mummy guard easier too!

I really enjoy this discussion. Funny how these ideas circulate. In lethwei catching kicks would make sense since you can only win by KO. But muay thai, yes it's a ridiculous idea punches like these would make catching kicks easier. I almost laughed when my teacher told me this but seems like it's a thing people actually believe. 

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2 hours ago, Kevin von Duuglas-Ittu said:

This "to catch a kick" idea is just a ridiculous thing. I think Kenshin promulgated it? I can't recall. First of all you do NOT want to catch kicks in Thailand, you want to check them. When you catch a kick you have lost a point. You have been scored upon. At general best you can get the point back, but you've given up a point. Yeah, there can be a sweep or whatnot, but the idea that Thais are somehow adopting really terrible punching techniques in order to catch kicks easier is flatly ridiculous. Honestly, it's just habitual poor technique that has somehow become widespread in Thailand that people are making up reasons for. Yes, Thailand has the best fighters in the world, but training protocols and knowledge of optimal technique is constantly shifting, and sometimes in certain lines of gyms it actually devolves.

I don't know if Kenshin propagated it, because I've been hearing it since before he was on the internet - but it may have been him.

I have been goofily trying to catch a non-existent kick from both a flared elbow and tighter elbow and I really don't think there is going to be a meaningful difference between them considering your arm is always going to be faster than your leg (unless something has gone horribly wrong).

I was training with Damien Alamos shortly before he announced he was coming out of retirement, and we spent a lot of time exchanging and catching kicks and his preferred stance to each is the rear arm close to the body and the left arm higher and slightly extended (sort as if you were holding a knife pointing out at about face level - there wasn't any delay in the speed I could catch a kick, even as someone who was adopting a stance I'm not familiar with.

51 minutes ago, LengLeng said:

I really enjoy this discussion. Funny how these ideas circulate. On lethwei catching kicks would make sense since you can only win by KO. But muay thai, yes it's a ridiculous idea punches like these would make catching kicks easier. I almost laughed when my teacher told me this but seems like it's a thing people actually believe. 

Yeah it's really weird. I also think that people commonly misunderstand the difference between being a boxer, and being a puncher. There aren't many Thai's that have the same fearsome punching you'd expect of a kickboxer, but I usually find that Thais are better BOXERS in that even though their punching form is normally lacking, they do have a better understanding of distance and range and how to set up those punches. Good kickboxers like Cro Cop, Peter Aerts etc understand that whereas a guy like Robin Van Roosmalen would just swing and win because he's powerful.

So I'll see guys in the gym who are doing bag only rounds trying to 'improve their boxing' but what they're actually doing is training their punching power, I usually tell them that they'll be better off in a boxing gym, or working with a  coach who understands boxing as a separate sport.

Another I see a lot is the stiff leg muay thai kick, because so many people hear 'we don't bend the knee' and take it literally, rather than what it actually means being 'we don't chamber'.  

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During our current lockdown I discovered I live very close to a trainer from my gym and we have been training outside waiting for gyms to open. He had the exact same thing to say about my chicken arm as described above. He had an interesting drill though to fix it. Or you guys might know it, I've never seen it before  We stood opposite each other and with straight jabs and punches, punched each others gloves. And we stood shorter apart than arms length distance so I would have to "strike through" his glove. We did a couple of minutes if 12, 12, 112, 1hook2 etc.

It was really uncomfortable but pretty effective ensuring arm hit straight into the target since the target was literally not bigger than a glove and with bent arm I would have hit the side of the glove.

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I hope there are no times like we have and we are facing. Training is my life and I cant even explain how much psychologically it has effected me by not being able to go to the gym. Like I started reaching out brands who are working in the similar category like elite sports to help me and other boxers to get into the game and help us to survive through this pandemic.  I'm glad they have started to now gradually.

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On 10/21/2020 at 3:44 PM, Tom Riddle said:

I hope there are no times like we have and we are facing. Training is my life and I cant even explain how much psychologically it has effected me by not being able to go to the gym. Like I started reaching out brands who are working in the similar category like elite sports to help me and other boxers to get into the game and help us to survive through this pandemic.  I'm glad they have started to now gradually.

I really hope you find your way out of this.


Maybe it's time to figure out different angles of the "game" ? Fighting or exercising is one aspect. I am sure you know there are many different ways to explore the field. Physical, mental, practical, social.

There are so many ways to be around the things we want. Some times (like these) it's an opportunity to step back from our routines and find ways to expand our approach. 

Be well 😄

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On 10/21/2020 at 7:14 PM, Tom Riddle said:

I hope there are no times like we have and we are facing. Training is my life and I cant even explain how much psychologically it has effected me by not being able to go to the gym. Like I started reaching out brands who are working in the similar category like elite sports to help me and other boxers to get into the game and help us to survive through this pandemic.  I'm glad they have started to now gradually.

I'm experiencing the second lock down of the year and haven't seen a gym since July. I'm training w a friend/trainer outside. Doing what we can, borrowing pads from friends hook then on to trees to emulate a boxing bags. I'm dealing with an injury so I'm studying physiotherapy and took up yoga again. I'm reading books that will help me train better(currently the Oxygen Avantage). I'm doing 75Hard to increase my mental strength (just Google 75hard and Andy Frisella if you interested). I adopted a stray kitten. I'm reaching out to strangers on social media asking for advice or sparring opportunities. 

Grow through this instead of falling into the trap of paralyzing self-pity. 

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On 9/20/2020 at 12:02 AM, Kevin von Duuglas-Ittu said:

This "to catch a kick" idea is just a ridiculous thing. I think Kenshin promulgated it? I can't recall. First of all you do NOT want to catch kicks in Thailand, you want to check them. When you catch a kick you have lost a point. You have been scored upon. At general best you can get the point back, but you've given up a point. 

Just a question here. On the score of catchint. There is the under the arm catch, where you catch the kick by getting hit in the body (hence the score), but what about the catch where you block it with your arm, then use the opposite hand to scoop it (in Thailand, I've only seen Yodkunpon  teaching it, but that would not get score and pottentially score depending what you do after the catch right?

On the chicken wings punches, It's also common in boxing. And they only have two limbs to focus on. It's just kind of a natural thing to do I think, also quite influenced by a-makers punches and the UFC. But in general, it's just not a natural thing to punch straigh. Since the focus in Muay Thai is usually not on punches, they don't tweak it as much. 

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I would say the number 1 factor contributing to the chicken wing epidemic is people being taught that you have to twist your fist at the end of the punch, to add more power or whatever, even tough it makes no sense from a biomecanical perspective.

Turning the fist does two things:

1. It makes it way easier to flare the elbow.

2. It forces you to bring the shoulder to your jaw, wich is a good thing. However, you can have a vertical fist / 40° fist and still raise the shoulder...

Btw, in old school bareknuckle boxing people used the vertical fist because it's safer. When gloves where introduced, they couldn't open wounds around the eyes of their opponents anymore, and figured out that if they twisted the punch during the impact they could tear off skin and have the same effect. So they started twisting their punches. However nowadays gloves aren't as rough and it's way more difficult to do the same.

 

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2 hours ago, Sirop de genou said:

I would say the number 1 factor contributing to the chicken wing epidemic is people being taught that you have to twist your fist at the end of the punch

I would agree with this. This has been way over done in general.

Here is a quick edit of Muay Thai legend Sagat Petchyindee teaching just that, don't twist your wrist:

 

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I am still struggling with flared elbows leaving my sides open losing power in the punch. Recently I got a great advice from a teacher with a karate/mma/lethwei/muay thai background. 

In his karate gym, they taught students how to use straight punches and hip power by telling them that the ends of their belt should sway/dance from side to side. This means their hips (rather than their shoulders) are involved in the punch, transmitting the power. This kind of visualisation of an invisible belt has helped me. 

 

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