Fast, graceful footwork is one of the fundamentals of Muay Thai classes. Great footwork allows you to slide out of attacks, and it can place you in optimal positions and angles to land strikes of your own. You will have a hard time finding a world-class Muay Thai fighter who doesn’t have excellent footwork.
Some people – like those who are great dancers – have an easier time understanding the footwork used in striking martial arts like Muay Thai, but anyone can learn to move gracefully on the mat if they put in the work at the Muay Thai gym.
Let’s make one thing clear: your progression as a Muay Thai fighter will be limited if you do not take the time to work on your footwork. Footwork drills might not be as fun or cool as throwing spinning techniques at a bag, but it is an essential fundamental you must master to become a high-level Muay Thai fighter.
Increasing The Speed Of Your Footwork For Muay Thai
There is a myriad of footwork drills you can use to improve how smoothly and fast you move across the mat at the Muay Thai gym. Muay Thai is a comprehensive striking martial art that allows for the use of punches, kicks, elbows, and knees to deliver blows, which means you have to defend against attacks coming from all directions.
Learning how to move efficiently on the mat makes you a moving target, making it harder for your opponent to land strikes on you.
All you need to start working on your Muay Thai is some space. Any space you can move around without obstruction works best, but try working in the ring as much as possible. This gives you a more authentic training scenario.
If possible, wear your gloves while working on your footwork. It provides a beneficial opportunity to get used to the feel and weight of the gloves as you move around. You will also need to wear clothing that allows you to move freely. Muay Thai shorts are designed for this specific purpose.
Looking to learn how to move faster on the mat so you can establish dominant angles that allow you to unleash your attacks on your opponent and avoid their attacks? Here are some footwork drills you should incorporate into your training.
1. Ankle warm-up drills
Warming up both ankles before performing footwork drills or training is always a good idea since all that movement puts a lot of stress on them. This can be combined with a more conventional warm-up like jogging at a relaxed pace to loosen joints, warm up muscles, and elevate your heart rate.
Here’s what the exercise looks like:
- Start by standing upright while facing a wall
- Plant one foot in front of you with your toes about half a foot away from the wall
- While keeping your hips parallel to the wall, bring your other leg slightly backward with its heel on the ground
- Now, bend the front knee forward and touch the wall with it
- If you’re able to easily touch the wall with your knee, move the other leg slightly further back
- Repeat the process until you get to a spot your front knee can barely touch the wall
- Repeat for 25 reps for each leg once you find the sweet spot
2. Footwork fundamentals drill
Here’s one of the most basic drills used in Muay Thai. It involves many of the basic movements you will find yourself using inside the ring. The key to mastering footwork is maintaining a solid stance as you move and throw strikes. You never want to let yourself get off balance since this makes you more vulnerable to your opponent’s attacks. Your stance serves as the foundation that allows you to transfer power from your lower legs into your attacks.
A poor stance leaves you off-balance, making it easier for your opponent to knock you to the ground or sweep your legs from underneath you. The drill described below teaches you how to remain centered and maintain the right distance between your back and front foot, so your base remains stable.
- Stand in your basic Muay Thai stance, and imagine there’s a pole right between your feet
- Move the front foot forwards, then bring your rear foot behind it, so you’re back in your starting stance. Do it every time you move your front foot
- Move your front foot forward to take five steps and bring your rear foot along
- Take five steps to the left with your front foot and bring your rear foot behind. You should be back in a basic Muay Thai stance after each movement
- Take five steps to the right
- Move your front foot backward five times
- Repeat the exercises 50 times starting from the top. Start slow when you are just getting used to these movements, then pick up the pace
3. Directional quick switch
Quick footwork can get you out of the way of attacks, which is preferable to blocking – which only reduces the impact of strikers. The faster you can move in the ring, the harder it is for your opponents to land strikes on you. Quick footwork also helps to put you in positions where you can land counter-attacks of your own.
The drill below will help you to get out of the way of strikes with slick, defensive movements:
- Start with a basic Muay Thai stance with your hands blocking your face
- Take a few steps to the right leading with your rear foot and your front foot following behind
- Now, pivot your rear foot outwards while keeping it planted at a 45-degree angle
- Instead of bringing your rear foot back by pivoting inwards, swing your front foot outward until it’s parallel with the back foot
- Now, push off with your front foot, changing directions until you are perpendicular to your starting line of movement
Practice Makes Perfect
Incorporate these drills into your Muay Thai gym routine and your movements will be noticeably smoother in no time. Stop by one of our complimentary Muay Thai classes at any of our Singapore locations to learn more about improving your footwork for Muay Thai.
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