Muay Thai aka the “Art of Eight Limbs” is a striking-based martial art from Thailand that utilizes fists, elbows, knees, and shins as weapons. It is widely viewed as the most effective striking system ever developed and fighters from Muay Thai backgrounds continue to dominate sports like mixed martial arts.
Unlike other striking-based martial arts like Taekwondo, which has thousands of striking techniques, Muay Thai keeps things simple and prioritizes effectiveness over flash. The ability to effortlessly mix punches with kicks, elbows, and knees is one of the skills that often separate the best Muay Thai fighters from everyone else.
This article will take a look at 16 basic combinations you should focus on if you’re new to the sport. While being easy to learn, most of these striking combinations are effective at all levels.
16 Basic Muay Thai Combinations Everyone Should Master
You don’t have to be a Muay Thai fighter to master the combinations we are about to explore. Many of these techniques are also effective in self-defense scenarios and mixed martial arts competitions. Let’s dive right into our list of 16 basic Muay Thai combinations.
The jab is one of the first strikes students learn in many striking-based martial arts and it’s one of the most used techniques in sports like boxing and Muay Thai. Your jab isn’t likely to finish an opponent, but it can help to gauge distances, disrupt your opponent’s rhythm, and set up more powerful attacks, like a head kick thrown with your rear leg.
Throwing a jab often leads to your opponent moving a hand forward to parry or catch it, or they might move their head off the centerline to dodge it. Either way, your opponent’s hand isn’t at the side of their head to protect them from a head kick, so fire off immediately after to catch them off guard.
Another trick you can use to land this combination is to throw a few other combinations that start with a jab to get your opponent to anticipate something else before throwing a leg kick. For example, you can throw a few double jabs to get your opponent used to you throwing two jabs in a row before throwing a jab, head kick combo.
The jab, cross, and hook is one of the first few combinations boxers learn and the combination works just as well in Muay Thai. Since kicks are perfectly legal in Muay Thai, finish off the combination with a rear leg kick to the body or head.
Depending on your stance, you might be able to target your opponent’s body with the kick and you’re more likely to land it since they have to bring their hands up to defend against your punch combination.
3) Jab, Cross, Switch Kick
This builds off the combination above. The idea behind both combinations is quite similar but you switch stances before throwing your kick for this combination, increasing the power behind it. Fire off the 1,2 combo and bring your lead leg back so it’s now your rear foot. Fire off the kick with your new rear leg before returning to your normal stance.
This combination can be devastating if you land on your opponent’s liver, but the kick should be thrown quickly since the switch telegraphs your intent to opponents.
4) Double Jab, Teep
This is one of the most used combinations in Muay Thai so make sure you dedicate enough time to master it. A teep, also called a push kick, is one of the most used strikes in Muay Thai and it’s the kicking version of the jab.
The teep is used to measure distances and to keep opponents off you. Unlike a jab, a teep lands with enough power to force opponents to take a few steps backward. Master the teep if you want to be able to dominate the rhythm of a fight and force opponents to fight on your terms.
Use the first jab to gauge distance, then throw another jab to catch you opponent off guard by having them put their hands up to guard their head, this allows you to throw the teep and ensuring it lands with optimal power. If you can touch your opponent with your jab, you’re in range to push them back with your teep. Use this combination sparingly since skilled opponents will try to catch your leg if you spam the technique.
5) Jab, Cross, Lead Elbow
Here’s a simple combination that can end up changing the tempo of a fight. Elbows are close-range weapons in Muay Thai, so use a jab to distract your opponent and a cross to close up on them. Fire off with the elbow, by bringing your arm forward similarly to how hooks are thrown. Your elbows and shoulders should be on a plane parallel to the floor and you should strike with the bone at the bottom of your elbow. Aim for soft targets like the eyebrows, nose, and cheeks to open up a cut.
6) Inside Leg Kick, Cross
This combination works best when you’re trying to have your opponent off-balance towards the subsequent punch. Start with the inside leg kick and immediately follow with a cross. This should catch your opponent off guard as they would not be able to guess what is your next move.
A hard inside leg kick can lead to your opponent losing their balance, scoring points on the scorecards for you while leaving them vulnerable to other strikes.
7) Jab, Feint, Lead Leg Kick To The Body
This is another simple yet highly effective combination Muay Thai fighters often use. You get your opponent to focus on defending their head by throwing a jab then a feint jab, then you target their liver with your lead leg. You can also target their head, but you’re less likely to land that combination since both of your opponent’s hands will likely be high.
8) Cross, Jab, Cross
The cross-jab-cross is a boxing combination that’s equally effective in Muay Thai. It is a fast combination that doesn’t leave you vulnerable when thrown properly and you can land it from outside range. It’s a good way to score points or to momentarily rock your opponent while you think of your next move. This should also be one of your go-to combinations for self-defense situations.
9) Jab, Cross, Lead Uppercut, Low Kick
Here’s a combination that involves the uppercut. Start with a basic 1-2 combination to get close to your opponent. Immediately, fire off a lead uppercut to their head. This will drop their guard leaving their lower body exposed for kicks, allowing you to end with a powerful low kick.
10) Jab, Cross, Left Knee, Right Elbow
Here’s a simple way to set up a powerful elbow to the head. Measure distance with your jab and step in with a powerful cross. Immediately connect the attack with a left knee to your opponent’s body and end it with a right elbow. The combination often leads to fighters lowering their guard to avoid getting hit with another knee, opening up an elbow strike thrown with your rear elbow.
11) Lead Hook, Low kick
Use this combination to land a powerful hook and leg kick on your opponent. Once you see an opening your opponent created by having their guard in front of their face, start off with a lead hook. This puts you in a position to end the combination with a powerful leg/calf kick thrown with your rear leg.
When done properly, your opponent should be too busy defending against your punches to check the low kick.
12) Jab, Cross, Lead Hook To The Body, Rear Roundhouse
You can throw this combination into the mix after you’ve landed a few combinations that start with a jab-cross. While your opponent expects a low kick or something else, confuse them with a lead hook to the liver and follow up with a rear kick. The head is typically the best target since some boxers lower their guards instinctively after getting caught with a hard strike to the body.
That’s the key to landing the rear kick. Throw the liver punch as if you were trying to end the fight with it and follow up with a roundhouse to the head.
13) Teep, Feint, Knee
This combination involves creating distance with a push kick and then catching your opponent with a knee as they get back in range and expecting another push kick from you. A fighter that has been pushed back with a teep will often try to regain the distance, putting them right in the range of your next attack.
Give it your all as you strike with your knee with maximum power.
14) Lead Uppercut, Cross, Lead Body Hook, Switch Knee, Elbow
Use this mid-range combination to land a powerful switch knee on opponents. Start with the uppercut and cross combination to get your opponent to guard their head and immediately follow up with a lead body hook. Continue the attack with a switch knee as you strike with your left knee, this will have them guarding their body still, leaving their head exposed. Finish the sequence with a horizontal elbow to their head.
15) Inside Low kick, Double Roundhouse Kick
Here’s a simple kicking combination that works on all levels. Start with a hard inside low kick thrown with your lead leg and immediately throw a roundhouse to the body or head. If you’re skilled enough, follow up with a question mark kick instead of a roundhouse. That way, the second kick looks like a low kick, encouraging them to drop their guard while you aim for the head.
16) Body Cross, Right Knee, Rear Elbow
Here’s a simple way to land a series of hard strikes inside the ring. Open up with a hard body cross, followed by a right knee. Plant your right foot back then follow up with an elbow thrown with your rear arm. Remember to keep your palm facing the floor when you throw your elbow so it lands with maximum power.
Get To Work
These are only a small portion of the many combinations used in Muay Thai. Add them to your workouts and master them before moving on to more advanced combinations.
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