I’ve never really had opponents catching my kicks in fights, but that’s partially because I don’t really mid-kick. So, the reason I know that I suck at responding when my kick is caught is almost entirely through padwork, where I topple over like a kicked-over bicycle. Which is to say that I don’t really practice against this and only get reminded of how unpracticed I am when my trainer occasionally wants to mess with me. I do know how to handle the caught kick – I’ve been shown techniques from various sources – but I never drill them.
When I visited Dejrat Gym in Bangkok and did a private session with Ajarn Surat, one of the first things he noted – with a disapproving head shake – was this falling over business. So he showed me how to keep my hand in his face for balance and then how to kind of lean into the kick to transfer weight and then hop on the standing leg, in the same rhythm of someone trying to push me or sweep me, so that I don’t get knocked over. Mai lom, in Thai… don’t fall.
Arjan Surat’s technique wasn’t so different from what I’ve learned before. What was different was his explanation and his particular insistence on the importance of balance in Muay Thai (everyone says balance is important in Muay Thai, but for Arjan Surat it is serious); he followed by showing me how to just thread my leg into the ropes to build my flexibility and one leg balance. “Every day, every day,” he said to me. I don’t stretch and flexibility isn’t really my problem so much as panic and tension when my leg is caught, but what Ajarn managed to do was inspire me to work on this shortcoming in a way that I could manage without a partner. Part of my failure to ever really drill this deficiency was that I don’t have access to drilling partners, or I lack the courage to force the kids to work this stuff with me on a regular basis. So I devised this strategy to work on the exact technique Ajarn Surat taught, without needing a partner. So, I can drill the balance and get the strength in my legs and figure out where to put my weight to build a base and then get someone to work with me by catching my kick more to get rid of the “oh shit!” response. I will say, since working on this for myself over the past month or so, Pi Nu has started catching my kick in padwork a lot more. That might partially be because he’s seen me working on it, but it might also be that he knows I won’t just crumple onto the floor anymore – so there’s actually something to work on now.
The practice of this on the bag may require a little balance work. This Sylvie’s Tips on the Floating Block may help in that. Also, my full private with Ajarn Surat (about 45 minutes) will be put together as a blog post and video and will be up later.
An Introduction to Sylvie’s Tips
You can read about the Sylvie’s Tips feature here in my first post:
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