Best Muay Thai Foot Drills to Practice at Home
Muay Thai is one of the oldest martial arts forms whose roots can be traced back to the 13th Century of the Sukhothai Kingdom in Thailand. During this period, it was initially designed for military warfare. However, in recent times, it has become the national sport of Thailand and is widely popular as ‘Thai Boxing’. The core elements of this fighting technique have been derived from the traditional Thai martial arts known as Muay Boran. Muay Thai as a sport came into existence during the 20th Century. It was influenced by the colonial British empire’s Boxing which is a popular combat sport.
Basics of Muay Thai
Now that we know how Muay Thai as a sport came into existence, let’s delve deeper into what all it entails. At the core of this sport lies the concept of “Art of 8 Limbs”. This combat sport uses 8 points of contact including punches, elbows, knees, and kicks. It is also how it differs from other similar sports like Boxing uses 2 points of contact (both fists) or Karate which involves 4 points of contact (fists and feet). Muay Thai uses various types of striking techniques along with clinching techniques.
The modern-age Muay Thai sport takes some elements from the traditional Boxing sport, such as the use of padded boxing gloves, 3 to 5 rounds with limited time, etc. Lethal techniques including strikes to the joint of the back of the head are prohibited in modern sports but it was a part of the traditional Muay Boran martial art form. A big difference in Muay Thai and other similar combat sports forms is that it lays special emphasis on the traditional elements of the martial art form that includes a popular pre-fight ritual called the ‘Wai Kru Ram Muay.
Practicing Muay Thai at home
The growing popularity of MMA as a sport over the past decade has made people curious about different fighting techniques being used during matches. Muay Thai techniques are also heavily used inside the ring. People often wonder if they can practice Muay Thai at home by themselves. Well, Muay Thai training can be complex and it’s best to do it under professional guidance at a gym or other training center. However, a large part of the training exercises can also be practiced at home. Here are some important Muay Thai exercises that you can easily do at home and develop a good base for intense training.
1. Rope skipping
The first in the list of exercises that you can practice at home for learning Muay Thai is rope skipping. All you need for this exercise is a good jump rope and adequate open space so practice the jumps. Skipping ropes is a great warm-up exercise that one can practice before indulging in intense training sessions. Rope skipping also helps you to strengthen your feet, ankles, and calf muscles. This is very beneficial in Muay Thai as it involves a lot of stand-up striking. Besides strengthening your bones, it also helps to improve your concentration, brain, and nerve function because it requires focusing on the rhythm of the movement.
2. Blocking and kicking
Another important exercise-related to Muay Thai that you can practice at home involves blocking and kicking combinations. This doesn’t require any additional protective gear or equipment to practice. One can start by shadowing as if they are blocking kicks from leftward and rightward directions. Holding up on your stand-up position on one foot for three or more seconds and then performing a kick will improve your balance. One can also try picturing someone catching their kicks and holding the position for 10 or more seconds to improve stability and balance. You can also watch training videos related to Muay Thai kicking techniques to easily practice this at home.
3. Punch as sprints
The punching and sprinting techniques at regular intervals are a great way to boost your stamina for Muay Thai matches. This exercise can be divided into multiple rounds. In the first round, players can try doing 3 minutes of jab-cross punches followed by interval sprints. Now it is important to know that the level of your sprints should be changed to reap the maximum benefits. For example, the first 30 seconds of this sprint can be like a jogging session and the next 30 should be like a relay race. You should do this for two rounds and each round can be 3 minutes long.
4. Alternating knees
You will be surprised to know that even the alternating knee technique can be practiced at home. It might not feel the same without the bag but if you can manage to push yourself in the right form, it can be highly rewarding. The exercise can be started with a three minutes shadowboxing session that involves throwing your knees in different directions. During the first 30 seconds, you should focus on your knee throw techniques and should aim to reach the right balance. After this, for the next 30 seconds, you must aim to double up your knees and focus on the speed. You must ensure that your knees are placed high and in the right direction. Doing two rounds for 3 minutes each is enough, however, if you don’t feel the burn then you must increase the time to 5 minutes.
Conditioning your body to sustain the kicks and punches during Muay Thai matches plays a key role in winning a fight. This requires toning your core body muscles and strengthening them to endure the strikes from your opponent inside the ring. Developing a routine habit of practicing sit-ups at home can help you develop your abs easily. Doing a lot of sit-ups is a great way for burning fats from the abdomen which helps to strengthen your abdominal muscles. Besides this, it also helps with your other body movements. While starting up, you can aim for 100 sit-ups in a day and divide it between multiple intervals to achieve your target easily.
Foot Drills for Muay Thai
Now that you have a good understanding of what exercises can be easily practiced at home, here are some Muay Thai foot drills that you can easily do at home to make the most of your home training sessions. In case you have a hard time practicing the below-mentioned drills, you can always watch a training video to do it correctly.
1. Ankle mobility warm-up
Before you jump into the rigorous foot drill training exercises, you must focus on the warm-up sessions. A completely physical warm-up exercise is recommended before starting the foot drills at home. The aim should be to get your heart beating and your muscles loose to make the most of these sessions. Ankle mobility warm-up is focused on training your ankles. Most Muay Thai fighters experience some of the other ankle-related challenges given the use of ankles in performing different moves. Many a time, it happens that two ankles have a different level of flexibility, your exercise should also take this into account. Practicing this warm-up exercise will keep your ankles active for matches.
2. Basic footwork drills
The second in this list is the basic footwork drills that one can easily practice at home. It provides for great building blocks to practice other basic footwork drills. It is aimed to get you familiar with essential basic movements used inside the ring. Maintaining a solid stance while moving inside the ring is important. It will provide you with a solid ground for other attacking and defending techniques including kicking, punching, and blocking. In absence of a solid stance, your attacks will not be as impactful as they can be. You can easily watch training videos to practice the basic foot drills with ease.
3. Directional quick switch
One of the most important things that Muay Thai fighters are taught early on is that they should prioritize dodging their opponent’s attack and avoid being hit by them. Moving out of the way as quickly as possible is the key to dodging hits from your opponent inside the ring. The directional quick switch is all about surprising your opponents with effective dodging methods during matches. Here is a quick guide to help you practice directional quick switch.
You must start with your hands up in the fighting stance. Now take three quick steps to the right leading with your right foot (back). This should be followed by your left foot (front) by keeping it close to your right one. Now just pivot your right foot (back) outwards and keep it at a 45% angle and swing your other foot (front) outwards so that it’s parallel to the back foot. After this, you need to push off with your left foot and switch directions such that your body is perpendicular to the original line. The last step is to take three steps in this direction. You must repeat this activity at least 50 times to improve your balance.
4. Switch and pivot drills
The art of pivoting plays a key role during Muay Thai matches as it helps players to effectively dodge and block kicks from opponents. Pivoting is an essential Muay Thai footwork technique that can be used to dodge attacks and put oneself out of harm’s way. It also helps you establish a firm ground to throw powerful kicks Pivoting and blocking involves a special kicking technique known as ‘checking kicks’ that requires lifting your shin at a particular angle to block kicks coming at you.
The steps involved in switch and pivot drills are as follows. Firstly, take a firm normal stance and push off using your front foot. As you push off your front foot, start pivoting your back leg at a 90 degrees angle in an outward direction. Now, switch your feet and repeat this footwork on the second leg. You must practice this drill 50 times to master the craft. Staying light on your feet is the key to practicing switch and pivot footwork drills.
5. The spinning checks
If your primary aim is to develop mobility, strength, and balance to defend yourself from strikes the spinning check should be on your priority list. To practice this move you must find a centered stance and start from there. The next step is to push off by leveraging your front foot. Once you push off using your front foot, it’s time to raise your knee and spin it outwards. After you have made a complete 180-degree angle, you can easily replant your feet. You should not repeat this movement using the other feet and repeat the drill for a minimum of 50 sets. You must stay light on your feet and refrain your heels from touching the ground in any case.
6. Dominant angles drill
Taking a dominant angle over your opponent inside the ring is one of the most important advantages that any Muay Thai fighter can have. So, what is a dominant angle? Well, a dominant angle allows you to dodge an attack from the opponent and simultaneously attack them using a prime angle. Looking for dominant angles should be your priority during Muay Thai matches if you want a competitive edge in the game. It is a better movie than a head-on strike which doesn’t allow you as much flexibility to defend in case you get a strike back. Backing up also gives your opponent ample opportunity to hit your body. Stepping aside gives you room to dodge and plan a hit together. It is recommended that you practice this footwork drill with a training partner for developing the required precision. You must try to increase the difficulty level of this move once you get comfortable with the basics.
Muay Thai is one of the most popular martial art forms that is practiced throughout the globe. There are many training exercises, including footwork drills that can be effectively practiced at home without a professional gym setup. This is a quick guide to help you train for some essential exercises related to Muay Thai combat sports.