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LengLeng

The role of punches in scoring (and a side story how my gym got bombed)

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Here's a very long story as a context to my question on how to use hands in muay thai scoring. 

I started fighting in Thailand 2019. My gym in Bangkok couldn't get me fights so I found my own way, inspired by Sylvie. After three pro fights basically on my own, my gym wanted to set up fights for me at MBK in Bangkok. Then I tore a meniscus in a spartan race and then I lost my job. Found a new job in Yangon, Myanmar. Started training at a lethwei gym trying to heal my knee waiting to go back to Thailand to fight. 

Then I injured my other knee. Second wave. I kept training waiting for my gym to open. I realised covid will drag on and I got mentally ready to fight lethwei. So with knee injuries, my hands, elbows and head became my focus. I discovered lethwei is not just douchebag LeDuc and headbutts, but many beautiful techniques.

My gym opened. Co-owned by a ONE championship MMA star. I was getting ready. 

Then 1 February 2021 happened. Military seized power. Since then, its been a nightmare. Before I moved to Myanmar, all my muay thai trainers warned me "Myanmar is a dangerous country". Well, now it is. I've had machine guns up my face. Friends being threatened. Daily I hear explosions. 

When army started using snipers, killing civilians, childrens, just anyone randomly with shots to the head. Or by arresting them, torturing them to death in prison. The youngest killed was a 5-year old playing in her own living room. 

Well, people started fighting back. Six decades of being ruled by Tatmadaw -which is only fighting a single war: against its own people. And an international community paralysed. People got organised to fight back. 

So did my gym. I saw defense trainings happening. I saw people coming going. I knew what was happening. I saw the pain and frustration of the people who had experienced a smell of democracy for a decade, and then it was again taken away from them. Just like that. 

Yet, each morning my teachers would train me like any fighter. Pushing me. Challenging me. Rewarding me for my hard work with massage and cold water to my forehead.

One night, 1am, I got a lot of calls. There was an explosion at my gym. People told me not to go to training in the morning. Apparently a selfmade bomb had exploded and severely injured my teacher and left the gym in ruins. My teacher's brothers (one pro footballer, one working with development) took my teacher who had severe burns to a private hospital. Another teacher went into hiding. 

The army got hold of that, took my teacher to an army hospital. The brothers, girlfriends and other trainers were brought to prison. Where they remain.

I haven't been back to my gym since. My gloves are still there. 

I'm training outside with a friend who used to work for the same gym and is traumatised too. Worried for his friends. Hiding from authorities calling him, trying to get info. I don't know the case of my teachers who are in custody, just that what they are charged with is severe. 

He and I. We. Just. Keep. Trying. Knowing lethwei might die with this. But still, finding joy in training. And my trainer, all he dreams of is getting to Thailand to work and fight again. 

Anyhow. After this novel/emotional dumping  Somehow through this, my punches, my uppercuts my hooks are getting way stronger. No gloves training is no biggie, my hands are strong. 

I'm trying to improve my kicks but rainy season, outside with no mats, no bag it's hard. So even though I think faster with my legs, my hands are becoming my best weapons. 

And I plan to go to Thailand in a couple of months and just hoping I can get just _one_ fight to channel all this I've experienced. But I don't know how to use my hands in a smart way in muay thai scoring? Just go for KO or do you get points for combinations and dominating fight through hands? 

 

 

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To the question at the end - I seem to remember that you are experienced in Thailand's Muay Thai - the Golden Rule regarding punches in Thailand is "there has to be effect". In other words, you don't just get credit for throwing them (ie not for "being active" or "being aggressive"). In fact, if you are being active or aggressive and missing all the while, it actually can score against you. You are exerting effort, but it is wasted, inefficient, non-potent effort. This goes to the question of whether you should go for knockouts, or for "dominating" your opponent with punch combinations. The answer is: which one would you more likely show effect (physical or psychological) on your opponents? That's the approach you should use.

This really changes though if you fight on the new 3 round Entertainment Muay Thai shows (Superchamp, Hardcore, even Thai Fight or ONE). These shows seem to favor aggression for its own sake. Throwing 10 hard punches that miss can very well earn you a round, especially if you are coming forward. In those shows generally the more you throw the better, as long as you aren't being caught on the counter.

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5 hours ago, Kevin von Duuglas-Ittu said:

This goes to the question of whether you should go for knockouts, or for "dominating" your opponent with punch combinations. The answer is: which one would you more likely show effect (physical or psychological) on your opponents? That's the approach you should use.

'

This above is really helpful, thank you. It makes me think a lot. 

All I know about muay thai scoring is what I learned here. And just from observing, which can be deceiving.

A follow up question, not sure if it can be answered easily. 

If a fighter is throwing kicks and knees and the opponent checks them or takes them but remains seemingly unphased by them, yet remains the more passive one in terms of attacks, but the attacks, mainly through hands, are sharp and have more impact. The scoring would be in favor of the more passive, but sharper fighter? Dominance, technique and control of fight narrative wins the fight (generally)? Regardless of number of attacks?

 

 

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18 hours ago, LengLeng said:

If a fighter is throwing kicks and knees and the opponent checks them or takes them but remains seemingly unphased by them, yet remains the more passive one in terms of attacks, but the attacks, mainly through hands, are sharp and have more impact. The scoring would be in favor of the more passive, but sharper fighter? Dominance, technique and control of fight narrative wins the fight (generally)? Regardless of number of attacks?

A couple of things here.

1. In Thailand's Muay Thai  you can't just "appear unphased" by kicks and knees, and nullify points. Kicks and knees to the body hold the additional "score" of showing control over the body center, just by landing. This is different than punches, which require the physical and psychological effect for score. Yes, by bluffing no impact from kicks and knees you minimize the score, but these are still points against you.

2. It really depends on what you mean by "passive". You need to know what the score is to read the behaviors of both fighters. Thais, traditionally, once they have the lead, retreat and "protect" the lead. This can be read as lacking in aggression by westerners, when in fact this is often pulling away in the fight. If a fighter who is behind in the fight starts marching forward, and throwing a lot...but not having a lot of impact, this fighter would be seen as actually falling further and further behind. They are "chasing".

Sharpness in technique does really matter though. It shows self-control, control over the fight space, balance, timing. If you are truly displaying dominance over the fight space, then this will score.

I can't quite picture the fight engagement you have in your mind here, but if you are checking kicks and avoiding knees, and landing impactful shots, you should be winning the fight...though that also has to be put in the context of who is advancing, who is retreating, and what the score of the fight is.

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I should add to the above, in case it isn't obvious: You cannot trade landed punches for landed kicks, all other things being equal, in Thailand's traditional Muay Thai. Punching fighters have an additional burden of evidence.

I'll also add this. As a female fighter, while the traditional Muay Thai scoring system does not favor you as a punching fighter, you are favored in another way, at least when fighting Thai female fighters. Because they grew into the sport organized around the high scores of kicks (and to a lessor extent knees), they are much more adept at defending them, and much less adept at defending punches (to be very general about it). What you are throwing has an additional burden for scoring, but maybe has a higher chance of landing. You see this play out in the very different 3 round entertainment Muay Thai fights where Thai female fighters are asked to fight well out of their element. They are punch-heavy, no-retreat allowed promotions.

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Thank you @Kevin von Duuglas-Ittuthis is helpful. 

As I have a lot of respect for traditional muay thai rules, these would always be my goal. I hate to be the farang going for KO to avoid dealing with the intricacies of muay thai scoring. To show understanding of the rules, is to me to respect the art. I'm not sure you would agree, but when Alyssia fought Stamp and won I saw the power of the strong basics of maintaining posture and using kicks as first weapon. I loved it. She didn't use much technique. Just basic muay thai and won. 

Newer kind of lethwei is very hand focused and their kicks are of the "stabbing version". Straight butterfly knife stab kicks. Older fights are more similar to muay thai. Exchange of beautiful kicks and only headbutt when it actually serves a purpose. I'm trying to learn this. Rather than the brutal: go forward and attack with no plan and full aggression. 

My desire would always be to go for technique. Sadly, seems like my hands are now, when I actually learnt how to transfer power from hip through shoulder to hands, my strongest weapons. But my preference would always be muay thai. I'm not sure, but the refinement Thailand managed to do and the national ownership of the sport is something neighbouring countries could learn from. I also believe, it benefits women fighters. 

It's good advice on the 3 round "sensational fights". I just don't like them. But beggars can't be choosers. I'd take any fight if even possible this year. 

Fighting under traditional muay thai rules to me are what would benefit me the most in terms of learning. Learning patience, calmness, non-aggresive violence and simply technique. 

To be honest, after this exchange I'll work on checking kicks and combine landing kicks following up with punches. 

Thank you. Not much in the public space on muay thai scoring. So it's appreciated. 

 

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3 hours ago, LengLeng said:

My desire would always be to go for technique. Sadly, seems like my hands are now, when I actually learnt how to transfer power from hip through shoulder to hands, my strongest weapons. But my preference would always be muay thai.

From your description, my personal advice would be to just use your hands to stress your opponent. Just keep on them, keep touching them, bring the power down, get them holding their breath...and then go for finishes later in the fight with hard weapons (kicks, knees or a power shot). If you are that superior to your opponent. Hands are great stressors. This kind of crescendoing tempo is very "Thai". Touch, touch, touch, touch...damage. Touch, touch, touch, touch...finish.

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A little aside note re punching / boxing moments in Muay.  Im thinking on the match between Calista and Pheetjeeja  a couple of years ago.  When Calista was still the young promising european junior, trying to make a carrieer as pro in Thailand, beginning with not too difficult matches.   (and yeah, she did managed just fine although a couple of setbacks).  I dont know what Calistas manager planned.  Did he thought Calista had now matured to meet a strong grandmaster, or did he thought it were nice for Calista to meet another good junior??

And Pheetjeeja, whom at this time abandoned Muay and become a boxer...  Pheetjeeja thus did made here a temporary come back. It was visible she didnt no longer care much about what others thought... Why, she was no longer a Muay fighter:   She did climbed in above the ropes!

 

And as Pheetjeejas transition into a boxer was now done and complete, she hardly kicked anything.   She just wore down poor Calista with series of heavy punches... Calista was brave, it was visible she was determined to endure whatever was coming... Whatever the costs...

But after long and severe battering, enough was enough... 

I do admire Calista she did continued and took other difficult matches, becoming even a specialist on Kard Chuek.

Thus.  Well done punching and boxing does pays off in Muay too....    🙂

 

Ps.  Pheetjeeja returned to Muay.  Stronger and better than ever...  She continues her tradition of not using her patented horrible horse kicks against women, but she has become instead a master of elbows...  AND her hard punching, together with her fully mature physical strengh, AND all the technical skills she always had,  makes her a fearsome opponent to any grandmaster.

 

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