The last time I was up in Chiang Mai I worked with Pi Daeng on what I’ve called the “Dracula Guard” (see that video here). It wasn’t my first time with the guard – the incredible Dieselnoi had showed me a version of it in a session previously, and way back Den gave me some pointers too – I’ve always been fascinated with it as a Muay Khao, advancing fighter because it has natural clinch entry advantages, but my session with Pi Daeng was the first time I really worked on learning it in context. In the month since that session I’ve really concentrated on installing it, adding to all my bagwork, padwork, shadow and sparring, so when I went back up to Chiang Mai for another set of fights I visited Lanna Muay Thai and asked Pi Daeng to work with me on it again, as a kind of check-up, so he could make corrections or build upon what I’d been practicing over the last month or so. Pi Daeng is a wonderful teacher and what he focused on for the next installment in learning the guard was having more faith in it under pressure. The first time around he’d worked mainly on positioning of the arms and striking out of it, but now that I was more comfortable moving in and out of the block he put it more into context: hitting me and putting pressure on me through proximity to get me to really feel comfortable blocking and striking, blocking and striking.
above, the Dracula Guard video with Pi Daeng
A few corrections Daeng made were in tucking my chin more and not covering my eyes with my right forearm. These were caused by the same problem, which is that I kind of turn my head to the right instead of keeping it in the center and just making the Dracula cape arm tighter around my chin – that way your jaw is totally covered by arm wrapping around and the chin and I can see over my forearm. Pi Daeng pointed out that if you can’t see, if you block your own eyes with your forearm (or close your eyes), you can’t see when to block a kick. The only real exposure from the Dracula Guard is your ribs and legs, since your arms are all pulled up around your jaw/neck, the ribs and legs are open targets. But if you can see the kicks coming you can check them. In Muay Thai you block anything below the shoulders with knees and shins (like checking a kick). So we worked on that. He also insisted again (he’d shown me last time) that I really sit down in the guard with my knees bent, so I’m really stable under the pressure. It’s a “top heavy” guard, so if someone is punching you up top and you stand too tall, you’ll stumble backwards or sideways from the strikes. You don’t want that in Muay Thai – balance is everything. If you solidly stand in, you look good and get credit for looking strong.
At the last bit he showed me that there are other blocks to choose from. He had me just run my left palm along my ear, like slicking your hair back, and keeping the arm folded and tight to block against hooks and the elbow is forward so if someone punches that it hurts them like all get out. He had me go between these two blocks, the Greaser and the Dracula Guard, to get comfortable with moving between them. But mostly he was just coming after me and putting me under pressure so that I could repeat the Dracula Guard in context and under a variety of different attacks and angles. Really good.
If you like this video check out Part 1, and related articles:
Sylvie Tips: Training Tips and Techniques from Thailand