Below is a long technique vlog, basically explaining an adjustment I’ve made to my training in the last couple of weeks. Usually my training consists of things that promote my conditioning and lots of work focused on specific techniques that I want to develop. These can be techniques or tactics I’ve picked up from legends while filming my Muay Thai Library project, or things I already do that I think I should sharpen up for my particular fighting style. I’m always working on something and it’s always hard, always with the aim of development. As with all training regimes, repetition is the key to mastery but it can also lead to stagnation. And, as my husband Kevin has noted, some of the things I’ve been doing for years, having put in thousands of hours, don’t really make it into my fights. So, we came up with a series of things that are maybe different in kind than the usual “get more precise” efforts I have dedicated myself to. It’s not like shaving seconds off of your speed in the pool by adjusting your stroke, it’s like making adjustments to your overall shape in the water; like way zoomed out rather than zooming in. And Kevin came up with an acronym just so it’s easier to be able to check list through them in training, instead of having to stop and re-check a list on my phone.
above, 17 minute vlog talking about S.C.A.T.H.E.
These aren’t really techniques so much as points of focus that can be included in the training of most techniques. They are things I want to think about while I’m training everything else. You can come up with your own list of meta techniques, and you may be doing some of these already. These are just things I’ve lost focus on – largely because I was always focusing on something else and you can only pay attention to so many things at once -, and want to become more aware of.
Scathe – See it. This has a lot of application in shadow boxing where it is pretty easy to zone out, but it really belongs to all aspects of training. You want to SEE your strikes hit the bag, or your sparring opponent, or the pads. Don’t let the eyes drift or blur out at the moment of impact. When you connect and your body feels it, sees it, believes it. It grows in confidence. Part of seeing is also seeing all the elements that connect up with that contact, all the little pieces that make it possible, like distance and angle.
sCathe – Crosses to the body. I’ve thrown a ton of crosses in shadow, the bag, endless crosses to pads, but this just isn’t a punch I’m confident in under pressure. All that practice, but something isn’t coming together, so I’m switching it up. All crosses go to the body – only the body. One reason is because I already feel kind of comfortable with crosses to the body in padwork or when I’m just play sparring with Kru Nu; probably because he’s wearing the belly pad. So let’s build on that. But a deeper reason is to create a new groove, a variation, where new emotions can be recorded on a similar movement. We can maybe reclaim all that work to the face by staking out the cross to the body, which feels new, especially from my southpaw stance. I’m not going to “forget” crosses to the head. And the last reason is that to throw crosses to the body you have to really commit to invading that “hole” on the open side, diving the head in to be protected from counters. If I can throw a cross to the body comfortably, authoritatively taking that space, then most of my other punches should be opened up as well.
scAthe – It’s very easy to get into the habit of calling a little timeout after strikes on the bag, or in padwork, and just walk back to your starting position. To re-set. This can be a very bad habit that doesn’t serve you well at all in fights. This is about owning those moments of backing up, and also changing how they feel to you. They aren’t a time out, but rather are a moment to peacock, or punctuate. I’ve gotten this from training with Karuhat who was one of the great reverse fighters of his time. This also helps keep the back up from feeling like a retreat, if you are under pressure. Back up, arrogantly, and flash defense as you do. Performed dominance in a big part of Thai scoring, here is where you hone that.
scaThe – Twice. This is something a lot of people know and practice, but for me it fell out of focus. I spend a lot of time correcting my technique, so training can fall into lots of single efforts and re-dos. The real reason you want to throw at least two things in a row is that the second strike forces you to be on balance after the first, and it teaches you how strikes naturally connect to others (or not). Forcing myself to push into the next strike allows me to become more fluid I think, something I’d like to work on.
scatHe – Head in. This for me is about not just defending yourself when attacked, but making my head down duck in part of my rhythm in general, and anticipating it when in range. I want to feel that ducking in is part of proximity, whether or not a strike is coming. It has to become part of my offense, not something that is happens when I stop offense. This is related to my recent work in Dracula Guard.
scathE – Everything a step. This was most explicitly taught to me by Kru Thailand over at Santai’s Gym, but it’s something many legends and trainers have pointed out. You want to advance on every single strike. Pick your foot up, and put it down – even it is a millimeter forward – advancing on every single strike. Elbows, knees, jabs, crosses, hooks, etc. Your forward momentum carries with it the weight of your body, and stepping will keep you from leaving your ass back, which means your hips will be much more likely to be engaged. Ultimately, you want to be what my husband and I call “fighting with your feet.” You want to see and feel from your feet, not your hands.
If you’d like to see the sessions where I’ve learned many of these principles check out and support my Muay Thai Library project.