The old saying “pressure makes diamonds” is not one that would immediately come to mind during the course of a Muay Thai contest. Quite often, pressure makes many fighters panic and give up their natural ability and game plan to the fighter that moves forward with destruction on his mind.
In Muay Thai, there are a number of different styles that fighters will adopt in their battle for supremacy and glory. Among them, the Muay Bouk – an ultra-aggressive style of fighter that thrives on pressure and rushing their opponents – is among the most fearsome. With a huge engine, solid Muay Thai fundamentals, and a well-rounded skill set that is shoved in their opponents’ faces, the Muay Bouk is a difficult fighter to keep at bay.
Unlike the Muay Khao (knee expert), Muay Tae (expert kicker), Muay Mat (heavy puncher/low kicker), a Muay Bouk prefers no one particular weapon, but utilizes the best tool available at a given opportunity. Unlike the Muay Femur (technician), they look to intimidate and exploit from an opponent’s mistakes under pressure.
When faced with such a fighter, how are you going to respond?
Surviving the Muay Bouk Attack
If a fighter is technically proficient and particularly strong with a specific weapon of choice, it can often be easier to devise a plan to neutralize his attacks.
On paper, planning to prevent a knee fighter from getting a hold of you and tormenting you with butchering knees should be fundamentally based on keeping him off balance and at the end of solid teeps and low kicks. Likewise, strategizing a basic game plan against a Muay Femur would likely involve keeping him as close as possible, clinching him up and trying to disrupt his rhythm by overpowering him on the inside.
Of course, fights aren’t fought on paper, and there is no foolproof plan for any style of fighter. This makes the sport of Muay Thai such an incredibly interesting and complex form of combat. Still, understanding the mechanics of a particular fighter by identifying his core strengths and key weaknesses make it a lot easier to gain an advantage over him inside the ring. Well, more than it would be without having any plan at all.
With the Muay Bouk, the one thing that you can count on is that they will fight with the same tenacity and approach as Arnold Schwarzenegger’s “Cyberdyne Systems Model 101” android in The Terminator. Unless you know how to stop this fighter from moving forward, thus putting you on the back foot and beating you up against the ropes, then, my friend, you are in for a rough night.
In order to survive against Muay Bouk fighters, you have to outsmart, outmaneuver, and outthink them. If you make it too easy for this style of fighter to come forward, you will be swarmed with shots before you crack under the pressure.
How to Stop the Muay Bouk
The key to devising the right strategy to beat the Muay Bouk is to first understand your own strengths, weaknesses, style, temperament, and fight IQ.
If you are a fighter that possesses a formidable roundhouse but are far from skilled with your hands, there would be little point basing your plan of action on punching your way to victory from short range. A Muay Thai fighter who fights in the Muay Tae style will first have to find a way of creating the distance between himself and the Muay Bouk before he can use his baseball bat-like roundhouses to full effect.
A Muay Femur would invariably have to use his technical superiority and footwork to create the right angles to land significant shots. With a stalking pressure style of the Muay Bouk, any mistakes would be seriously punished, especially since they are prepared to eat heavy shots on their way inside and have a solid guard. In theory, the style of Muay Femur fighters is a bad matchup for the Muay Bouk, given their superior footwork, use of lateral movement, and elusive nature.
By identifying your style, you can then work out the right plan to target this particular style of fighter’s weaknesses. This will not be easy, given that they are generally well rounded and tough fighters that pride themselves on their above-average cardio and durability.
What Style Beats the Muay Bouk?
There is no style that is guaranteed to defeat any other. Over the years, we have seen every style of Muay Thai fighter achieve great things inside the ropes, with the exponents of each particular way of fighting beat fighters of different ilks. The legendary Muay Khao, Dieselnoi, beat arguably the greatest fighter in Muay Thai, the legendary Samart Payakaroon.
Sangtiennoi Sor Rungroj, one of the greatest Muay Bouk fighters of all time, was beaten by fighters who possessed different styles and attributes. The late, iconic Ramon Dekkers, beat Sangtiennoi with his punch-heavy style once over the course of three bouts. Another Muay Thai legend, three-time Rajadamnern champion Nokweed Davy, caused him a lot of trouble with his excellent kicks and boxing super brain.
Of course, Sangtiennoi lost other fights throughout his career to Muay Thai fighters of different styles, including Jongsanan Fairtex, Namkabuan Nongkeepayayuth, Piroj Wor. Valapon, Kriengkrai Sor Vorapin, and Jomhod Kiatadisak.
To assume that there is any style that is tailor-made to beat a Muay Bouk is to believe that there is an answer to beating anyone who fights in this way.
Basic Tips When Fighting a Muay Bouk
Breaking it down, you know what to expect when fighting relentless pressure fighters.
The key is to decide whether to keep them stationary and look to exchange with them while they are flat-footed or to limit their forward movement by employing circular foot movement. Catching them on the way in with solid low kicks, especially if they have the propensity of putting a lot of weight on their front foot, should be considered.
It is important to first test the waters when opting for this strategy as the Muay Bouk often comes with a large, powerful frame. Frustrating them will be key, as will keeping your own composure under pressure. Even the greatest fighters in the world have difficulty in key decision making when faced with an opponent who swarms and stifles them.
As the Muay Bouk’s engine underpins their threat, you should always look to target the body and legs to drain their gas tanks. This will be easier said than done, as they are not known as fighters who give up space easily.
And one last thing – pressure fighters will keep moving forward and usually in a linear fashion. Allowing them to do just this is giving them the license to cause damage. Mix things up by using sidesteps, feints, explosive three-part combinations, and being as difficult to predict as possible.