5 Effective Muay Thai Counter Techniques Using Sweeps

Muay Thai sweeps are a work of art. In the sport, few techniques require greater accuracy and timing, and seeing one executed with precision is truly captivating. Not only are sweeps beautiful to watch, but they are also among the highest-scoring maneuvers that a fighter can display in the ring. Standing over your opponent after you’ve sent them crashing to the canvas leaves a remarkable impression on the scorecards and sometimes when a fight is close, it is a single sweep that sways the fight in the winner’s favor.

The reason Muay Thai sweeps are so highly regarded is because completing one ticks almost all of the boxes for the sport’s judging criteria. Knocking a fighter off of their feet shows both dominance and clear effect. A well-performed sweep shows beautiful execution of technique and continually sweeping your opponent shows clear control of the fight’s tempo and if doing so makes your opponent hesitant to enter exchanges, then that’s just the cherry on top.

In this article, we are going to introduce you to five basic sweeps that you can use when confronted with some of Muay Thai’s most common weapons and break them down into simple steps. So, whether you’re fighting a Muay Khao fighter with aggressive knees, a Muay Femur with effective teeps, or a Muay Tae with crushing body kicks, you’ll have the perfect techniques to counter their most effective weapons.

 

1) Over-Catch And Sweep Vs. A Kicker

The roundhouse kick to the body is Muay Thai’s most common weapon and this tried and tested sweep is a must-have in any fighter’s arsenal. It’s important to master this as it is likely the one you will use most often and using it successfully can ensure that your opponent is unable to use one of the sport’s most valuable weapons.

  • Step Away: You want to make sure that you step away from the kick as you catch it. Failing to do so can result in some pretty sore ribs.
  • Catch The Kick:  Wrap your arm around your opponent’s shin, making sure to scoop it high under your armpit to help unbalance them.
  • Circle Off: Once you have their leg securely under your armpit, step your rear foot forward and begin turning them using the momentum of their kick. Using your arm to push their chest or neck in the direction you want them to move can make this easier.
  • Sweep: Place your foot or shin low down on your opponent’s calf, near their ankle, and kick it out from under them.

 

2) Under-Catch And Pull Vs. A Kicker

The over-catch and sweep is a Muay Thai staple because it easily defends against a body kick. It becomes difficult to pull off once your opponent starts kicking higher up to your arms and shoulders. The under-catch is a great way to adapt to this and can be used as the first step in many effective sweeps.

In this video, former ONE Bantamweight Muay Thai World Champion Nong-O demonstrates the under-catch and pull in four easy steps which we’ve outlined below.

  • Under-Catch: Hold your arm tight to your body to protect your ribs from your opponent’s shin. Whilst doing this, ensure you keep your glove tight to your jaw to protect yourself in case they kick high. As the kick connects, reach across your body, with your opposite hand and hook their heel into the palm of your glove.
  • Control The Foot: Once you have your opponent’s heel in the palm of your glove, take a step back whilst simultaneously pulling their leg in front of your body. Then, take your other glove and place it over the top of their foot so that they can’t escape your grip.
  • Pull Back And Down: Pull your opponent onto you whilst lowering your body weight by squatting low. The lower you pull their leg, the easier it will be to sweep them in step four.
  • Reverse Their Direction: As your opponent begins to fall forward onto their front foot, explode up and pull their foot across the front of your body. This will reverse their direction and send them careening onto their back.

 

3) Sweep vs. A Long Knee

It can be difficult to face an aggressive knee fighter. Their constant forward aggression can drain your energy and their tireless pace can leave almost any fighter feeling short of breath. Sweeping them as they are stepping in to do throw knee is a great way to slow them down and get yourself some breathing room.

  • Move Laterally: Quickly step to the inside of your opponent’s knee as they come up onto one leg, making it so that their knee travels directly beneath your armpit.
  • Over-Catch The Leg: Scoop their quad high up under your armpit in the same way you would catch someone’s calf as they kick. Make sure to lift it high so that they lose more balance.
  • Turn And Sweep: Keep your momentum moving laterally as you catch. This will redirect your opponent’s momentum, forcing them to spin. As they turn, push their chest with an extended arm and pull out their standing leg with the front of your shin.

 

4) Pull The Leg Of A Puncher

Muay Mat fighters can be just as difficult to fight as their Muay Khao brethren. They can throw lots of heavy shots quickly, overwhelming you with volume, and making it difficult to time your kicks. This simple, one-step sweep is an effective way to make a puncher reconsider their game plan.

Punching requires a fighter to place a lot of their weight onto their lead leg. As they step forward, hook their leg with your own almost as if you are kicking their calf, and then pull it out before they plant it onto the floor.

Just make sure to keep your guard up as even the slightest margin of error in completing this can result in you hitting the canvas instead of your opponent.

 

5) Pull And Sweep A Lead Leg Teep

Fighting against a counter-fighter who is confident with their teep can be frustrating, especially if you prefer to fight at close range. The best way to negate someone’s teep is to make them hesitant to throw it and a simple way to do this is to punish them with a crafty and well-executed sweep.

In the above video, Savvas Michael and Arjan Wat show two very effective teep counters and we’re going to focus on the first of them here as it combines elements of both the second and fourth sweeps, we’ve already introduced.

  • Catch The Foot: As your (orthodox) opponent extends their lead leg, take a small step back and catch their heel in your left hand. Then place your right hand on top of their foot in the same way that you trapped the leg in our under-catch and pull sweep.
  • Pull Their Leg: Step back and pull your opponent’s leg forward and release it so that they lose balance.
  • Pull The Leg: Before the falling leg can hit the floor, hook it with your foot and pull it forward in the same way you did in the previous sweep. Remember that you aren’t kicking the leg, but rather, you are yanking it out from under them.

 

Conclusion

These five sweeps are a great place to start on your sweeping journey in Muay Thai. Though they may appear to be simple, pulling them off against a trained fighter, who wants to stay on their feet, can be challenging. Make sure to practice them religiously if you want them to become valuable weapons in your Muay Thai arsenal.

 

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