Welcome to the first video in our series of martial arts tutorials filmed and explained by Warrior Collective. Warrior Collective is run by Stuart Tomlinson, who has been involved in shaping the UK martial arts scene for over twenty years.

 

In this piece, Somapat Sitiwatjana (Master A), former pro muay Thai fighter, Kru, and Head Instructor of Master A's Muay Thai School in Manchester, gives a step-by-step tutorial on how his fighters develop powerful knee strikes ahead of their bouts.


Somapat was one of the original instructors who came from Thailand (along with his brother Master Toddy) to teach muay Thai in the UK over twenty years ago. He is widely regarded as an expert in this field and consistently produces top-level fighters.

 

 

Origin of the Sport

Muay Thai is a martial arts discipline that originated in Thailand and remains their national sport to this day. Muay Thai is often referred to as the "Art of Eight Limbs" or the "Science of Eight Limbs". This is because it makes use of punches, kicks, elbows strikes, and knee strikes, thus using eight points of contact, as opposed to two points (fists) in boxing and four points (hands and feet) used in other combat sports, such as kickboxing. It is also seen as a key discipline for success in mixed martial arts competitions.

 

The Knee Strike and the Heavy Bag

The knee strike is a technique utilised in muay Thai that clearly separates it from most other martial arts practiced today. It is also a key weapon because of its effectiveness within the rule set, which allows fighters to clinch their opponents and use this technique at close range legally.

 

Heavy bags are essential to train the knee strike. This is because:

 

  • A bag is dense - it offers a lot of resistance, thus both increasing the strength of the knee strike and conditioning its surface to deliver impact without injury.
  • A bag swings - you can work both the timing of your knee strikes and use the momentum to increase feedback.
  • You can use a bag on your own.

 

When working the long straight knee:

 

  1. Adopt your stance (orthodox or southpaw).
  2. Keep the weight off your heels and through the balls of your feet.
  3. Point your toes and get your foot as close to your bum as possible to form the knee.
  4. Push your hip forward on the leg delivering the knee, whilst at the same time leaning slightly back with your chest and using the same side arm to push back by the side of your leg (as if it was scooping water).

 

Drill 1

  • Keep your arms in contact with the bag and push the bag to create a swing back and forth towards you.
  • Keep a short stance and pass your weight from foot to foot in a stepping rhythm.
  • Strike the bag just after it starts its descent back towards you, this will ensure you get full length on the knee and meet the bag effectively with it.
  • Go from push the bag away, to short step with left leg and right knee strike,
  • Repeat through to the end of a timed round.

 

Drill 2

  • Similar to Drill 1 but this time you will not keep contact with the bag with your arms as you push it away.
  • Keep a short stance and pass your weight from foot to foot in a stepping rhythm.
  • Strike the bag just after it starts its descent back towards you, this will ensure you get full length on the knee and meet the bag effectively with it.
  • Go from push the bag way, short step with left leg and right knee strike to push the bag away, short step with the right leg and left knee strike.
  • A notable difference here from Drill 1 is that you will now utilise the arm swing as you knee strike to gain more length/power.
  • Repeat through to the end of a timed round.

 

Drill 3

When working the swinging knee:

 

  1. Adopt your stance (orthodox or southpaw)
  2. Keep the weight off your heels and through the balls of your feet.
  3. Flex your toes and get your foot in line below your knee (think a ninety degree angle).
  4. Swing your striking leg back as high as you can before arcing it out to the side and then using your hip to strike the side of the bag with your knee.
  5. It is paramount with this strike that you hit with the inside of your knee and keep your foot off angle so that it does not hit the target.

 

  • Keep your hands on the bag both to control it and to help push yourself back off.
  • Keep a short stance and pass your weight from foot to foot in a stepping rhythm.
  • Unlike Drill 1 or 2, do not push the bag at all but take a small step back with your non-striking leg and then swing your striking leg as far and as high back as you can.
  • Use the swinging knee as described above and then go straight into stepping the opposite leg back before striking with the other knee.
  • Repeat through to the end of a timed round.

 

Drill 4

  • Once you are able to do drills 1, 2, and 3 in isolation, you should then aim to put them together randomly into the same timed round as shown by Somapat in the video.
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