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Stepping on kicks: 45-degrees, or straight ahead (per Kontoranee Payakaroon session)?

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First off, I want to say a big thank you to Sylvie for the dedication and detail you put into all your content and for sharing such a wealth of Muay Thai information with the world.

Having watched the great session with Kontoranee Payakaroon, I had a question or a request for clarification. My first Muay Thai trainer, Ryan Roy (pro MT fighter, previously head trainer for Fairtex in the Bay Area back in the day, and now owner of T2 Muay Thai in Mountain View, CA for any folks out there looking to learn) taught us to always step out at a 45-degree angle on our kicks to avoid getting caught by a punch to the face mid-kick. In your session with Kongtoranee Payakaroon, he taught you to step straight towards your opponent's front foot on your kick. I know there is never one 'right' style, but did the subject of head protection during the kick come up much in your session? At one point during the session, he gave you a tip about using your defensive hand more towards the center of the face rather than the 'usual' by-the-ear position. I'm curious to know his approach, as I have seen a lot of kicks in pro MT fights where the fighter does not seem to step on that 45-degree angle, but again this technique has been drilled into my brain from training (even though I'm terrible at actually doing it!). I also remember watching an MMA fight (a different world than MT, but still...) where one fighter stepped straight towards his opponent on his kick and ended up getting knocked out with either a punch or elbow to the head. I continue to be curious on this topic, and to understand any subtlety or conditions of the varous approaches you have learned to the step. (I also enjoyed Arjun Surat's 'always defend on kicks' approach in your session video with him.) Thanks once again for your continual sharing of knowledge! - Dave

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The 45 degree step is preferred by most trainers and gyms that I've experienced. When krus have you step straight forward, it's usually because they kick "through" the opponent more, but then your guard has to stay up pretty solid as a defense as you come in. Like the Arjan Surat arm, or "Pinsinchai Arm" as Kevin and I call it, to defend punches. This was never explicitly stated by Kongtoranee to me, but other krus who have taught to step right on or near an opponent's foot, it also allows your kick or knee to "track" them if they try to pivot off or move to the side. 

Rambaa, Karuhat, Yodkhunpon and Sagat all teach that elbow toward the center as a defense. It f***ing hurts if you punch an elbow. Can break someone's hand quite easily.

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