Knees are a foundational strike in Muay Thai, the Art of 8 Limbs. They are powerful, effective, and excellent for throwing at closer ranges or from within the clinch. Thrown from inside the clinch, they can even aid in finding your way to sweeps. If you are a Muay Thai practitioner, this is likely a strike that you practice quite often and look to utilize in your sparring regularly.
While knees are an incredibly popular strike in Muay Thai, there’s no doubt that athletes are always looking for ways to improve and throw stronger knees. Try these three tips to help you hone in on having stronger knees for your Muay Thai game.
Develop Your Core Strength
Core strength is a key component of Muay Thai in general. Considering that knees are thrown by utilizing the core to drive the knee forward, training the core appropriately is a great place to start. A strong core will give you the best opportunity to throw solid knees at your opponent, while also maintaining your balance and protecting your body from incoming strikes.
Knees can be thrown straight up the middle, or even from around the outside. Knees thrown around the outside require your rotational core strength to be dialed in as well since there is often a bit of a “twisting” motion involved in throwing the strike.
Here are three great exercises to help you build your core strength, with an emphasis on strength during rotational movements:
1) Russian Twists
Russian twists are a staple for your core strength routine. These can be done with bodyweight only, or with a medicine ball or weight in your hands. While sitting, rock back and elevate your legs off the ground (this is called a “V-up” position). Maintain your position while you twist your arms to touch your left hip and then your right hip while holding your weight.
2) Pallof Press
For these, you will need a long resistance band and somewhere to tie it. Tie the band to something at shoulder level or slightly lower. Stand perpendicular to the outstretched band, and hold the band in front of you with both hands.
Keep the band stretched as you “press” the band out in front of your body and retract it again to your chest. Go slow and steady and try to maintain a steady push/pull motion. This is an incredibly challenging core exercise, as your core has to fight the pull of the band to stay straight. Turn your body in the opposite direction and repeat on the other side.
3) Planks With Hip Dip
Forearm planks are a killer core workout in and of themselves. Add in a hip dip and this exercise will help you really strengthen your core. From the plank position, maintain your posture on your elbows and toes while you “dip” your hips to touch them to the ground on the right side of your body. Bring them back up to neutral and then move to dip your hips to the left side.
These three exercises are an excellent way to help strengthen your core as a whole, as well as develop strength for the rotational movements that are often needed for knees coming from the outside. These exercises will give you the strength you need to increase the power of your knee strikes in Muay Thai.
Hone In On Technique
It is always an obvious answer, but good technique will certainly lead to better and stronger knees. If your technique is lacking, you may be limiting the amount of power in your strikes. Ask a coach or partner to watch you throw some knees and give you feedback. If you happen to be practicing on your own and are looking to critique yourself, here are some things you can look at on your own:
- Drive: Are you driving your knee forward toward your opponent, or is it making an upward movement? If you are not driving your knee into your opponent, you might be missing your opportunity to fully land the knee, thus making it seem weaker than it should be.
- Striking Surface: Are you landing your knee on your opponent with the tip of your knee, or are you landing knees with your thigh? If you find you are doing the latter, then you are missing out on a great deal of power. Strike with the tip of your knee, driving it forward into your opponent.
- Base: What does your base look like? Can you be easily swept or knocked over? There is, of course, some inherent risk to throwing knees, as it inevitably means you are on one foot, but that doesn’t mean you can’t throw them from the best base possible.
Looking at your technique might bring about some small but important changes that will add a significant amount of power to your knees.
Another aspect to look at when trying to throw stronger knees is a less obvious one. Knees will naturally feel stronger when they are placed in certain areas over others. A knee to the kidney, for instance, might feel significantly stronger to your opponent than a knee thrown toward the chest. The kidney is simply a more sensitive area.
So while this tip might not improve the actual power of your strikes, you (or more accurately, your opponent) might find that it has the feel of improvement, as the strikes will be more effective when they are placed in better areas. Look to place your knees on your opponent with the best accuracy and to the areas that will elicit the greatest response. Your knees will instantly feel more powerful with this one tiny adjustment.
Throwing Stronger Knee Strikes
Throwing stronger knee strikes should definitely be on your to-do list. Working to improve each strike in your Muay Thai game, even if just in tiny increments, is a worthwhile venture. By honing in on your technique, learning to land them with strategic placement, and working to develop a strong core to generate the most amount of power, you will find that your Muay Thai knee strikes will be stronger than ever.
You may also like: