Balance & Control – Keys to Muay Thai Scoring – Tony Myers

Video was originally posted by nopstar of My Muay Thai – this is invaluable information on how to score and really watch sport Muay Thai. For further study read...

Video was originally posted by nopstar of My Muay Thai – this is invaluable information on how to score and really watch sport Muay Thai. For further study read this article by Tony Myers on scoring found on Muay Thai Online: I don’t usually post material from other channels, but this is very important to disseminate for the growing audience of Muay Thai viewers and especially if we are going to get any closer to a universal scoring language.

The audio isn’t great, but it is well worth pausing and repeating with the volume up if you miss anything.

Key Points:
How to Judge Self-Control and Aggression

* There is a distinct aesthetic difference between Muay Thai in Thailand and anywhere else in the world.  A great part of this difference is the way in which Thai fights are performed at close range with the fighters standing in each other’s space and trading blows in a way that sometimes (especially in the first two rounds) can seem like taking turns.  The demonstration of masculinity is in the ability to take a strong strike without it really having effect and then deliver your own.  Fighters remain emotionally flat, except in rare cases when one fighter is dropped to the floor in a manner which causes him to “lose face” and then sometimes he comes back hard; but he’s not really rewarded for it.  This self-control and effective aggression is paramount in understanding the outcome of some fights in Thailand, where the less active fighter, sometimes moving backwards a great deal of the time, can win a fight outright.

Muay Thai clean blows landing with accuracy and power.
* Obviously a strike has to land pretty cleanly for it to be awarded a clear point, but it’s worth looking at what a clean, strong blow looks like, especially since I get so upset every time a color commentator on the UFC exclaims “great kick” or “beautiful knee” when the damn thing was blocked or had no power in it.  What was great about it?  That it happened?  Bah!
Disturbing an opponent’s physical equilibrium
     – losing position
* I got really into this part when Tony Myers was explaining it.  This is incredibly important for knowing how to watch a Muay Thai fight and is a distinct difference between Thai fights and elsewhere in the world.  Myers shows a graph indicating the difference in ability between Thai and UK fighters to maintain balance AFTER a strike is thrown.  Master K got on my case about this a lot, too, without ever explaining it to me.  He would chide me for “staggering” after a kick, which basically indicates that I wasn’t on balance throughout the delivery of the technique.  When you see really good technique in the ring you will see a fighter explode out of a movement and come right back down into his stance with perfect balance and ready to strike again.
Being off balance, whether you are taking or delivering a blow is essentially losing position.  Being MOVED by a strike, even if it’s just a little bit, is disturbing the equilibrium.  Flinching, turning, backing up without it being a dodge or looking like you were “got” by a blow is showing a psychological disturbance.
Disturbing an opponents psychological equilibrium
     – showing pain, or fear they will be scored upon
* Not showing fatigue or the affect of a strike against you is a big thing.  Judges aren’t in the ring with you, so judging the effectiveness of a strike might come down to how the recipient responds.  Maybe that leg kick wasn’t so strong if the recipient doesn’t respond to it at all.  Maybe those knees are much stronger than they look if the recipient appears disturbed by them.  The key to Muay Thai performance in Thailand is to be unmoved, physically or mentally.  It’s so unbelievably beautiful.
When I saw Sakmongkol fight in Vegas he was performing the Thai attitude and aesthetic beautifully.  He looked like he was playing with his (much bigger) opponent, picking his shots and blasting a guy who probably outweighed him by 20 lbs all around the ring.  He got a nasty (and beautiful) ax elbow right in the face and kept coming, blood everywhere.  Then the rest of the fight was a bizarre demonstration of clinching and ultimately Sakmongkol came out the victor in a decision that was met with mixed response from the crowd.  What we didn’t see though, because we couldn’t possibly have known from his performance, was that Sakmongkol’s orbital bone was broken by that elbow and his arm had been broken in the second or third round off of a throw.  He fought the rest of the fight without any of us knowing his arm was broken.  Had he been affected by it the fight would have looked very different, but he wasn’t affected seemingly at all (other than, in retrospect, noting that he didn’t really use that arm in the clinch).
Quality of Techniques
The trade between “cleanliness” and “effect” (power)
     – scoring without visual effect are blows that cleanly fall on the body, neck or back.
     – must balance and control oneself before, during and after the delivery of scoring.

Controlling position and balance.
* Tony Myers shows  a few clips of fighters controlling the movement and position of themselves and their opponents, both moving forward and backward.  Really helpful examples.
Signs of being the stronger boxer:
     – Leg caught, but can’t be brought down.
     – The head pulled down in the clinch is the weaker boxer.
     – The fighter who can’t hold position due to fatigue is weaker.
Kicks blocked with your arm on the body still score. Kicks blocked “in position” don’t score.
Catching kicks does not score unless a strike or throw is returned.
*Basically the catching of a kick doesn’t mean anything unless you can affect your opponent with a strike or a throw off of that catch.  If you can’t affect them, you end up looking like the weaker fighter.

This post goes well with the notes on scoring Brooks Miller made on my fight. As well as this layman’s guide to Muay Thai Scoring on his blog.

photo credit (above): photographer David Dare Parker

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Muay ThaiTechnique

A 100 lb. (46 kg) female Muay Thai fighter. Originally I trained under Kumron Vaitayanon (Master K) and Kaensak sor. Ploenjit in New Jersey. I then moved to Thailand to train and fight full time in April of 2012, devoting myself to fighting 100 Thai fights, as well as blogging full time. Having surpassed 100, and then 200, becoming the westerner with the most fights in Thailand, in history, my new goal is to fight an impossible 471 times, the historical record for the greatest number of documented professional fights (see western boxer Len Wickwar, circa 1940), and along the way to continue documenting the Muay Thai of Thailand in the Muay Thai Library project: see


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