Muay Thai – Kneeing over the Block
The other day I was finishing up my afternoon training with knees on the bag, which is my usual. It was pounding rain outside, creating this kind of end-of-the-world din on the metal roof of the gym but making the inside of the gym feel like a sanctuary. Normally I just do jumping knees, holding the bag with my hands and forearms while doing the “chicken wing” with my legs, swinging them back and out to the side before striking them down the center or slightly to the side of the bag. Taywin came over to me and immediately instructed me to add variety to the strikes, showing me how to bring the leg back and then drive the knee up high, almost under the armpit of my opponent, while keeping the standing leg straight and centered. This is great for kneeing over blocks, guards and the dreaded “Wall of China” defense, where your opponent stops your knees in the clinch by putting their own shin across your thighs like a barricade.
In the first few seconds you can see my usual knee bag work, the 400 or so knees I do every day. (Not the greatest form – my knees are bruised and I’m not digging into the bag the way I should, so if you’re going to imitate these knees it’s better to work off of this video .) Taywin comes over and he’s very good with technique, so he gets right in there and shows me how to bring the knee back by opening the hip wide and then pivoting on the standing leg and angling the knee down just a little bit so that you’re landing the strike on the hard part of your knee.
He’s holding my shoulder when he goes behind me, keeping me from dipping my head/shoulder down when angling the knee. You should stay upright. When I tap my own shoulder I’m asking whether that’s the level at which he wants my knee to be striking and he affirms it. It’s like Master K’s “warm up” routine in which you actually knee your own shoulder from the side – you can totally knock someone out in the clinch this way, clinching the head and just kneeing into it from the side; nasty. And he keeps telling me to point my toes instead of leaving the foot flexed. Then he tells me to push the bag toward my knee with my opposite arm. When I start going with my right knee he tells me I’m already good with that, so leave it alone and work on the left. But then he shows me how to grab the bag with both hands on one side and then drive it into my right knee, like pulling the head down across your body into the knee.
At about 3:30 he’s telling me to start mixing the knees up: do a straight knee, then a jumping knee to the ribs, then back to center, to the thigh, then a round one, etc.
Finally and as an aside, this Japanese man who is kicking the bag behind me kicks so hard and it kind of shakes the whole structure for the bags. He’s amazing. Sometimes he does these block-like movements against the metal pillars which hold up the roof and the whole gym shakes. The one-inch punch that brings the walls down.