How To Fight Like Rodtang Jitmuangnon

“The Iron Man,” Rodtang Jitmuangnon, is a man who hardly needs an introduction to anyone who is serious about the sport of Muay Thai. The former Omnoi Stadium Champion and 250-fight veteran has remained at the top of the ONE Championship roster since winning his first Muay Thai World Title in 2019 when he defeated Jonathan Haggerty for the Flyweight Muay Thai World Title.

Rodtang’s success both in the Bangkok stadiums and ONE Championship is based on his beautiful Muay Mat fighting style. It’s a beautiful display, that mixes controlled aggression with skillful defensive strategies that set the pace, range, and tempo of a fight.

If you’ve ever wanted to emulate “The Iron Man,” you’re in luck. In this article, we are going to highlight the key parts of Rodtang’s offensive and defensive strategies before giving you a few drills that you can add to your training regime that will help you adopt these methods into your own Muay Thai skillset.


Rodtang’s Fighting Style

Rodtang employs a Muay Mat strategy in the ring. Simply put, this means that he favors heavy-hand combinations to damage and dismantle his opponents. While he is notoriously aggressive, Rodtang never rushes and will often probe his opponents’ guards with a volley of punches before deciding whether he’ll continue his assault or prepare one of his defensive traps.

Being a Muay Mat can be difficult, especially because in order to throw hands, you need to get past your opponent’s long-range kicking weapons. Then, once you begin to unload with heavy strikes your opponent will often tie you up in the clinch as a defense. Rodtang has found a way to counter this, often standing back just out of his opponent’s range and preparing to counter them with teeps and low kicks as they move in to throw their own strikes. When locked up in the clinch, Rodtang rarely engages with knees or elbows but rather presses himself in close and sweeps his opponent whenever they attempt a strike of their own.


Rodtang’s Muay Mat Style

Rodtang’s boxing strategy is simple and effective. With a tight guard, he stalks into range and then unloads with a combination of power punches that target an opponent’s head and body, changing levels to create openings. After a single combination, he pauses to assess the damage. If he has hurt his opponent he explodes into another vicious combination, if they have maintained composure he retreats and initiates his ranged defense protocol.


How To Punch Like Rodtang


1) Boxing Pad Work

Rodtang’s punching style is fairly easy to practice but incredibly difficult to execute. In training, dedicate some time to boxing pad work without using any other Muay Thai weapons. Ensure that you are boxing for Muay Thai, which means you need to limit your head movement and never slip or roll after throwing a combination so that you’re always in a position where you can defend all of Muay Thai’s weapons.

Focus on throwing several punches, mixing heights to both the head and body. Remember, Rodtang throws every punch, even his jabs, with knockout strength, so if you want to punch like him, you’re going to need to put every ounce of power you have into every strike as well.


2) Entering Boxing Range

The hardest part of being a Muay Mat is getting past your opponent’s longer-range weapons. Practice defending against these long-range weapons as you stalk your way into boxing range. This can include parrying teeps or catching kicks and pulling your opponent into a rain of heavy punches.


3) Conditional Sparring

Once you’ve mastered the basics of entering boxing range against a kicking opponent, it’s time to put it into a live sparring drill. In this conditional sparring drill try to have one partner only attacking with punches while the other can only attack with kicks. The puncher needs to find a way to cut their opponent off as they attempt to stay at kicking range and overcome kicks and teeps in order to get the upper hand up close.


4) Rodtang’s Ranged Defence

Round 1 of this classic bout where Rodtang fought Sok Thy demonstrates how “The Iron Man” utilizes teeps and leg kicks to control the range of a fight whilst also inhibiting his opponents’ ability to attack. You’ll notice, before changing gears at the end of the first round, Rodtang stood just out of Sok Thy’s effective range, using leg kicks and teeps to stop the Cambodian from instigating an attack. Front leg teeps to Thy’s hip and thigh disrupted his balance and rhythm whenever he attempted to engage while punishing leg kicks made him reluctant to step forward at all.


How To Defend Like Rodtang


1) Withdraw From Range After Striking

Rodtang doesn’t waste energy pressing forward with attacks that aren’t having an effect on his opponents. He opens an exchange with a punching combination where he will target high and low to his opponent’s head and body. If none of his strikes have an effect, he will often step back just out of effective range to goad them into overreaching on their counterstrikes.

On pads, have your pad holder call a three or four-shot hand combo where at least one punch targets the body, then have your pad holder press forward with a few faux strikes. Your goal will be to land the combo and then use fast footwork to bounce back from range before they can respond. Just ensure you maintain your composure so that you are ready to cover or defend if necessary. Notice in the video above how Rodtang withdraw from his opponent’s range after striking and then, throwing another heavy combination.


2) Time Your Teeps And Leg Kicks

This drill can be done whilst light sparring or with a partner who is wearing a body pad as well as a leg pad on their front leg. Practice standing just out of your opponent’s effective range and wait for them to step forward to strike. When they step forward alternate between throwing fast, lead leg teeps to their hip and thigh, or chopping their leg. Remember the best time to chop an opponent’s lead leg is when they have stepped down onto it so that it is more damaging, and they have more difficulty blocking.


3) Combine The Drills

Now that you’ve mastered withdrawing from range after striking and punishing an opponent as they step into range, it’s time to combine the two drills either on pads or in the context of conditional sparring.

Throw a combination of punches to the head and body and then quickly step back from range to teep or chop your pad man/sparring partner whose goal is to catch you with counter strikes before you can land your defensive kicks.


Rodtang’s Clinch Style

If Rodtang’s opponent advances before he has the chance to withdraw into teep or leg kick range, he will tie them up in the clinch before they can strike. Then, instead of engaging in a clinch battle, he presses himself up close where they can’t knee directly to his midsection. Then, when they attempt to knee around the side of his body he turns them into a sweep.

In the above bout against Jacob Smith, the tough Englishman showed little respect for Rodtang’s power and consistently marched forward to meet him. You’ll notice in the many clinch exchanges that Rodtang rarely throws a knee and instead consolidates his hand and foot position in preparation for a sweep.


How To Clinch Like Rodtang


1) Turn A Kneeing Opponent Drill

The first step to sweeping a kneeing opponent like Rodtang is to get a feel for when an opponent is about to knee you. Start at range like in the above drill so that you can see when your opponent is about to come up onto one leg. Then when they are up on one leg, turn your whole body and pull them over their standing leg so that they stumble backward. You can even throw in a knee afterwards as a counterstike.

Once you have the knack for this at range, move in close to a chest-to-chest position where it is harder to see the knees and you have to ‘feel’ for the shifts in your opponent’s weight. If you really want to perfect this skill, you can even practice this with your eyes closed.


2) Sweep A Kneeing Opponent

Once you have mastered turning an opponent as they knee, it’s time to increase the difficulty and turn the movement into a sweep. There are many ways you can sweep your opponent in a clinch when they have thrown a knee strike.



Rodtang is a Muay Mat who controls the pace and range of a fight with powerful strikes. He’s not only a master of entering punching range and punishing opponents with his hands, but he’s also a master of shutting down their offensive capabilities with his close-range clinch and disruptive leg kicks and teeps.

Rodtang recognizes that fighting the Muay Mat style is a difficult skill to master, it’s not just about landing punches, but also ensuring that your opponents can’t outscore you with kicks. So, you’re going to need to remember that punching is only one-half of Rodtang’s fighting style.  also going to need to master these defensive strategies if you want to be able to make the most of his aggressive punching style.


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