The Punch techniques in Muay Thai were originally quite simple being
crosses and a long (or lazy) cicular strike made with a straight (but
not locked) arm and landing with the heel of the palm.
Cross-fertilization with Western boxing and western martial artists
mean the full range of western boxing punch are now used (jab,
straight right/cross, hook, uppercut, shovel and corkscrew punches plus
overhand or bolo punches)
Muay Thai judge score punching techniques less highly than other strikes as they are generally less powerful than knee strikes or kicks and the fists are padded by gloves (while knees, elbows, shins, and feet are not)
As a tactic, body punching is used less in Muay Thai than other martial arts to avoid exposing the attacker's head to counter strikes from knees or elbows.
Elbow techniques (dhee sork)
The elbow can be used in seven ways: horizontal, diagonal-upwards, diagonal-downwards, uppercut, downward, backward-spinning and flying. From the side it can be used as either a finishing move or as a way to cut the opponent's eyebrow so that blood might block his vision. The blood also raises the opponent's awareness of being hurt which could affect his performance. This is the most common way of using the elbow. The diagonal elbows are faster than the other forms, but are less powerful. The uppercut and flying elbows are the most powerful, but are slower and easier to avoid or block. The downward elbow is usually used as a finishing move.
The two most common kicks in Muay Thai are known as the teep (literally "foot jab,"), and the TAE(kick)chieng (kicking upwards in the shape of a triangle cutting under the arm and ribs) or angle kick. The Muay Thai angle kick has been widely adopted by fighters from other martial arts. The angle kick uses a rotational movement of the entire body. The angle kick is superficially similar to a karate roundhouse kick, but omits the rotation of the lower leg from the knee used in other striking martial arts like Karate or Taekwondo. The angle kick draws it's power entirely from the rotational movement of the body. Many Muay Thai fighters use a counter rotation of the arms to intensify the power of this kick.
A Thai fighter uses this to his advantage, and if a round house kick is attempted by the opponent the fighter will block with his shin. Thai boxers are trained to always connect with the shin. While sensitive in an unconditioned practitioner, the shin is the strongest part of the leg for experienced Muay Thai fighters. The foot contains many fine bones and is much weaker. A fighter may end up hurting himself if he tries to attack with his foot.
Muay Thai also includes other varieties of kicking, such as the axe kick, side kick or spinning back kick etc. These kicks, depending on the fighter are utilized as to the preference of the fighter. It is worth noting that a side kick is performed differently in Muay Thai than the traditional side kick of other martial arts. In Muay Thai, a side kick is executed by first raising the knee of the leg that is going to kick in order to convince the opponent that the executor is going to perform a teep or front kick. The hips are then shifted to the side to the more traditional side kick position for the kick itself. The "fake-out" always precedes the kick in Muay Thai technique
Kao Dode (Jumping knee strike)
The Thai boxer jumps up on one leg and strikes with that leg's knee.
Kao Loi (Flying knee strike)
The Thai boxer takes step(s), jumps forward and off one leg and strikes with that leg's knee.
Kao Tone (Straight knee strike)
The Thai boxer simply thrusts it forward
(not upwards, unless he is holding an opponents head down in a clinch
and intend to knee upwards into the face). According to one written
source, this technique is somewhat more recent than Kao Dode or Kao
Loi. Supposedly, when the Thai boxers fought with
rope-bound hands rather than the modern boxing gloves, this particular
technique was subject to potentially vicious cutting, slicing and
sawing by an alert opponent who would block it or deflect it with the
sharp "rope-glove" edges which are sometimes dipped in water to make
the rope much stronger. This explanation also holds true for some of
the following knee strikes below as well.
Kao Noi (Small knee strike) - the Thai boxer hits the inside upper thigh (above the knee) of the opponent when clinching. This technique is used to wear down the opponent or to counter the opponent's knee strike or kick.
Foot-thrust techniques (teep)
Foot-Thrusts also known as Push Kicks or literally "foot jabs" are one of the most common techniques used in Muay Thai. Teeps are different from any other Muay Thai technique in terms of objective to use. Foot-thrusts are mainly used as an offensive technique to block opponent's attacks, get him off-balance and destroy opponent's balance.
The fighter on the left has the dominant position in a front Thai clinch. (Note that both men are employing an improper hold upon the other. The proper clinch technique employs controlling the back and top of the opponents head, not the neck, which in fact is much harder to control. Additionally, both men are using improper hand position, as interlinking fingers is impossible with gloves and offers a very weak hold that is easily escaped.)In Western Boxing, the two fighters are separated when they clinch, in Muay Thai however, they are not. It is often in the clinch where knee techniques are used. The front clinch should be performed with the palm of one hand on the back of the other and not as shown in the picture. There are three reasons why the fingers must not be intertwined. 1) In the ring fighters are wearing boxing gloves and cannot intertwine their fingers. 2) The Thai front clinch involves pressing the head of the opponent downwards, which is easier if the hands are locked behind the back of the head instead of behind the neck. Furthermore the arms should be putting as much pressure on the neck as possible. 3) You can injure your fingers if they are intertwined, and it is harder to release the grip if you want to elbow your opponent's head quickly.
A correct clinch also involves your forearms pressing against the other fighter's collar bone while your hands are around the opponent's head rather than his neck. The general way to get out of a clinch (not the one pictured) is to push the opponents head backwards or elbow him, as the clinch requires both participants to be very close to one another. Additionally, the non-dominant clincher can try to "swim" his arm underneath and inside his opponent's clinch, establishing him as the now dominant clincher.
Muay Thai has several other variants of the clinch, including:
arm clinch, where one or both hands controls the inside of the defender's arm(s) and where the second hand if free is in the front clinch position, this clinch issued to briefly control the opponent before applying a knee strike or throw
side clinch, one arm passing around the front of the defender with the attacker's shoulder pressed into the defender's arm pit and the other arm passing round the back which allows the attacker to apply knee strikes to the defender's back or to throw the defender readily
low clinch, with both controlling arms passing under the defender's arms, which is generally used by the shorter of two opponents
swan-neck, where one hand around the rear of the neck is used to briefly clinch (before a strike) an opponent