The Sylvie’s Tips feature is a collection of techniques and tips I’ve picked up in my time in Thailand, from some of the best trainers in the world. I’ve never seen these exact counters before, and they come from the greatest knee fighter in history, Dieselnoi, during my filming of a nakmuaynation.com private.
Unique Knee Counter to Round Kick
I’ve actually been on the receiving end of this knee to the hamstring a number of times, but only from my trainer, Pi Nu, during padwork. He thinks it’s hilarious and usually calls out boran! as he does so, which is basically saying it comes from the old style. The difference between that knee and Dieselnoi’s knee here is that Pi Nu catches my kick first and holds the leg while he knees the hamstring – Dieselnoi doesn’t bother with all that catching nonsense, he just nails the leg. This simultaneously hurts, tips you off balance, and forces you backwards. You can see in the GIF he’s completely ready to throw the next strike after I’ve fallen backwards toward the ropes, a good chest-level knee. It’s like he’s just walking forward. The knee to the back of the leg acts as a nice little shot of pain and it also makes you reconsider how many more of those kicks you’re going to throw at him.
What’s nice about this technique is you can use it when you’re a little late in response for a block, because you come up under the kick rather than intercepting it. So it can be a “plan B” of sorts. It’s important to step down off of the knee with a step forward, to cover more space for that followup attack. You also want to plan for that step forward so that your knee drives forward, which is part of what knocks me off balance and backwards in the GIF. If you stay in one place and just come up under the leg, you might lose your distance for a secondary attack.
Cross Knee Counter to Low Kick
Some moves in Muay Thai are really effective without being really visible or flashy. When I first met Kru Lek down in Bangkok, who teaches a Boran style of Muay called “Muay Chaiya,” I was amazed at this low-kick shin check that he did. He didn’t lift his foot off the ground at all and instead kind of angled his shin into the incoming shin of the opponent’s kick. It was subtle in visibility, almost a “what did he just do?” kind of move, but even in slow-motion and very light I could tell how nasty that would feel in a fight. This block by Dieselnoi is similar and may even have roots in Chaiya technique. He lifts his foot off the ground to intercept the kick and meets the shin with his knee. When a shin and a knee clash, the knee wins. As the kicker, the pain of impacting a hard knee instead of a fleshy thigh will be a shock; and even just this light demonstration by Dieselnoi against my shin – and I have hard shins! – allowed me to reckon that it would cause serious damage in the fight. Enough to cause a limp, for sure.
What I find really brilliant about it as a tactic, aside from it being a sadistic move, is that anyone who uses low kicks to good effect will be throwing them when your weight is on your front leg. If your weight is on the front leg and that’s the leg your opponent is targeting, it’s unlikely you’ll have time to shift your weight to the back foot and bring the front shin up to check the kick fast enough. But with this cross-block you don’t have to shift your weight, it’s more like continuing forward. And blocking with your knee is at once going to cause more damage to your opponent and less to you, as well as not having to bring that back leg up as much as you would have to in order to check the kick with your shin. It’s win/win. Dieselnoi was quick to point out that you don’t use this technique every time. Rather, you’d block the kick a few times first, or even take a few kicks, and then pull this one out as a surprise. He also told me not to use it too much in training because it will hurt your training partners, so keep that in mind as well. Maybe do it softly as a drill and with shinpads on. You’ll still feel it through the shinpad, so I emphasize doing it in a controlled manner when you try it out, then let it fly for real in a fight situation when hurting your opponent is the point.
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