In most combat sports, fighters have time to prepare for their opponents. They can watch videos of their opponents' past fights or maybe even train with their former partners.
In Thailand, nak muays don't often have that luxury. Short-notice fights are real and very commonplace.
We've been breaking down Sean "Muay Thai Guy" Fagan's short-notice fight round-by round.
In round one, Sean landed a beautiful sweep off a caught kick.
However, rather than making his opponent thing twice about kicking, he actually adapted and used that weakness as an opening.
Let's see how it goes for our man, the Muay Thai Guy in ROUND 2:
FINDING 'GREAT OPENINGS' THROUGH FEINTING
Sean’s opponent throws another kick to the body, and Sean once again catches it. This time, the Thai has figured out how to counter Sean’s catch and sweep. He immediately squares up his hips and throws a punch down the middle, catching Sean completely off-guard.
It is in these tiny spaces between techniques where great openings lie. It is during these transitional moments where you could very easily knock your opponent out with shots. When you are in the middle of moving from one technique to the next, that is when you are most vulnerable, as Sean learned here. This is also another principle that allows Sean to land the low kicks that he did.
For a moment, let's return to a point mentioned in round one. I talked about universal techniques like the jab and the teep. Another universal technique and incredibly effective one is the feint.
In round two, Sean was able to land another nice leg kick precisely because of his feints. Sean put his opponent against the ropes and feinted with his hands, getting his opponent to try and escape by circling to his left. The moment he does this, Sean lands his kick.
What feints are able to do is provide the safest ways possible to probe your opponent’s defense. You are able to get your opponent to react while you are barely leaving your stance or sometimes not even leaving your stance at all.
Feints are particularly effective against counter fighters. A counter fighter is specifically waiting for you to strike, then they will defend and return fire. However, the counter fighter’s rhythm and timing is thrown completely off when a feint is introduced into the mix.
One of the most famous examples of this is Lyoto Machida vs. Jon Jones. Jones was throwing lead kicks only to have Machida dart into his face and blast him with punches. After getting caught many times in the first round, Jones’s corner told Jones to feint the low kick and immediately throw a punch of his own. Jones followed the instructions to the letter, knocked Machida down, then proceeded to choke him out.
Speaking of leg kicks, let’s talk for a moment about defending them. You must be able to check leg kicks. Remember that a strong defense not only prevents you from getting harmed, it also means you can transition quicker into your offense. If you’re constantly being pushed around by leg kicks or punches, how can you possibly settle your weight and fight back?
As we saw in the middle of the round, Sean was able to check his opponent’s leg kick and fire back immediately with a leg kick of his own, which we shall talk about more in the next breakdown...
Join our "Muay Thai Mondays" email newsletter for the latest updates on new videos, special events and everything Muay Thai!