Most people would agree that there is not a more complete striking-based martial art than Muay Thai. The ancient art of eight limbs has fascinated millions around the world, not just with the power and beauty of its techniques and approach to unarmed combat, but with the discipline, spirituality, and rich traditions involved in it as well.
muay thai ranking system
In Muay Thai, the fists are without a doubt the most used weapons at mid-range. The technique and execution of punches in Muay Thai are similar to punches in boxing. The difference comes not from the technique or mechanics involved in executing the punches but in the manner and form in which they are thrown – which is largely due to the footwork and guard form commonly used in Muay Thai.
So whether they are thrown from the lead or rear fist, the straight (jab or cross), hook, uppercut, and variations of them are executed more or less with the same mechanics as that of boxing with the turning of the hips and foot behind every punch for the best possible balance of speed, power and explosiveness.
And as it is in boxing, the lead fist operates as the quicker but less power reliant punch. The jab is the most used technique from the lead fist. It is used best as a sharp and speedy punch to provide a stinging effect enough to stun the opponent in order to follow up with other strikes from another or even the same limb.
muay thai clinch techniques
The most powerful punch from the lead hand is arguably the hook, but the uppercut, though rarely executed as an initial strike from the lead due to its difficulty, can no doubt provide for an equally devastating effect as well if given the right position and angle.
The lead fist is also used for hand fighting (especially between fighters of opposite stances) and thrown or stretched out occasionally in the form of a tap or even a light, calculated jab to help fighters gauge their range in the ring.
The rear fist is the main go-to power technique available to a Muay Thai fighter in the mid-range. Whether it’s the cross, hook, or uppercut – punches executed from this fist contain the most power and are usually responsible for high scoring significant strikes or finishing the opponent.
However, while the technique and execution of punches in Muay Thai draw parallels to that of boxing, the use of fists in Muay Thai can no doubt play many more roles in Muay Thai than it does in the sweet science.
One of the more significant roles it plays in Muay Thai is its use with kicks. For a very common and simple example of this (as seen in the gif above) is when a fighter uses a lead hook, not with the intention to score with a clean punch but to cause the opponent to shift towards a follow-up kick from the rear leg. In that way, the force from the follow-up rear kick is amplified.
So whether it’s masking a kick behind a punch feint or using punches to set up a kick, the art of Muay Thai has perfected the use of different limbs together; and it has an incredibly intelligent and effective way of using the fists alongside the shins.
Technical fighters like the legendary Samart Payakaroon and Somluck Khamsing, or knockout artists like Khaosai Galaxy and Veeraphol Sahaprom, are some of the more popular examples of Muay Thai fighters who have exceptional Muay Thai boxing abilities and used them to near perfection in their overall Muay Thai game during their successful careers.