Working On Your Teep

We got a question on the Muay Thai Roundtable forum the other day that I reckon is a pretty common issue. When I first started taking Muay Thai from...

We got a question on the Muay Thai Roundtable forum the other day that I reckon is a pretty common issue. When I first started taking Muay Thai from Master K, he described the teep as the “electric fence” around every other technique. Teep comes first, basically – the first line of defense and keeping your opponent out of your space until you want them there. And I sucked at teeping for a really long time. It’s only fairly recently, in the last 1.5 years maybe, that my teep has become a favorite technique, and it didn’t become that way because I actually like it, I just started to favor it because it started working! And that all came to be because my trainer would force me to teep – and only teep – for the final round on pads for months and months. He didn’t actually talk to me about it, he just did it and gradually I came to rely on the teep and have more faith in it.

So, the woman who asked this question, Alla, actually came to train with me for a few weeks at Petchrungruang. Her technique and balance in her body improved greatly in that time, pretty much in the same way mine has in working with Pi Nu. Just by doing the work. Still, focused drills for techniques can shortcut your accuracy and build up your confidence – but actually using them in context of padwork and sparring is where you really get your relaxed comfort. When I saw Alla’s question on the forum I decided to shoot a quick video of the various focus drills I’ve used over the years here in Thailand, stuff you can do at home with just a wall if you don’t have a hanging bag. If you have questions about technique I highly recommend asking on the Muay Thai Roundtable forum.

Alla’s Question:

My teeps are pretty useless. They are slow, weak and it seems like I am always at a wrong distance or position to land them. Because of that I almost never use them in sparring.
This is probably the result of bad technique. The problem is I don’t know what I am doing wrong or what to look for when I practice teeps on the bag or in shadow. To give an example , when I practice midkicks, I check that I go up on the ball of the standing foot, I rotate the hips so the kick connects on the downward side of the arc, that I am looking at what I kick , and that one hand stays by my face throughout the whole movement.
Any similar tips for teep technique? Drills or exercises advice also appreciated.

How can I improve my teeps?

above, Sylvie’s Tips video working on your teep

In the video I point out primarily that the strength of a teep is far less important than the accuracy and timing of it. I’ve knocked someone twice my size back on a well-timed teep and failed to affect my opponent at all with a really strong, but poorly timed teep. So for timing I use a swinging bag, hitting with the ball of my foot on the same spot on the bag as it swings toward me. The idea is to stay in one spot and learn when to throw the teep by the motion of the bag. This is the same as timing your teep for when your opponent is coming toward you. You can also time a teep for when the opponent’s leg starts to rise for a kick – you can knock them down because they’re only on one leg. (I train this timing sometimes, just asking a partner to start their kick, as I watch their hip, over and over.) When on the swinging bag you don’t want it to spin, you want it to go straight back and forth. If it’s spinning, your teep isn’t accurate. You don’t have to teep super hard, just a little jab goes a long way.

A second option is with no bag at all, just teeping a wall or a post. You practice hitting with just the ball of your foot and again looking at accuracy – hit the same spot on the wall with every teep. Keep your guard up for balance and figure out how to make a small movement with your hips and your upper body leaning back just a little bit; if you’re knocking yourself backwards on each teep you’re pushing too hard with the leg and not enough with the hip.

Learning how to teep with the hip instead of kicking the leg out with a lot of force can be done by putting your foot on a hanging bag and then pushing. You can do this with a partner, too. With your foot already on the target you are forced to follow through with your hip since the leg isn’t doing any kicking at all. That’s how you learn how to “finish” your teep, it’s the last little burst in the whole movement.

The time you want your teep to have a lot of power is when you’re using it offensively and going forward. Mostly you use the teep in little bursts when moving forward incrementally, or to stop an opponent who is coming toward you. That’s 90% of teeping. But for those who really want to teep their opponent across the ring into the ropes with a single shot as they move forward, that’s when you load up on power. In that case you need to hop on your standing leg and probably want to turn the foot of your leg that’s teeping to the side, so you actually hit your target with your foot horizontal, landing with a bit of your heel (both legends Karuhat and Rambaa suggested this). It’s harder to catch that way and you need the balance because you’re hopping forward with your full weight. You practice that one on a bag and need to step back from it to have enough “runway” before the impact. They’re fun though!

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Muay ThaiSylvie's Technique Vlog

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 patreon.com/sylviemuay

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