I've got a confession to make. I like watching science programs and nature programs. I recently watched a National Geographic special on The Science of the Punch and learned a lot about martial arts that I hadn't considered before. I learned that the single most powerful punch – by a factor of 30% - was from good old fashioned Western boxing. I saw a lot about transferring energy from the back leg through the core of the body that I'd known before, and some really cool stuff from ninjitsu that I'd never seen before. But what impressed me most of all was watching their section on Mauy Thai, and how some of the combinations in Mauy Thay deliver the ultimate combination of economy of motion and force to the body.
This inspired me to check out some Mauy Thai instructional videos. Yeah, yeah, it's Yoshi talking about Yet Another Couch Potato Style Kung Fu Style, right? Not quite. The thing about Muay Thai instructional DVDs, since Muay Thai is, effectively, a mixed martial arts full contact sport, is that the DVDs are really about bare bones practicality. They're not going to load you up with lots of “Contemplate the caterpillar weaving its cocoon" philosophy – they get straight on with it, covering stances, blocks and traps, and how to combine them into combinations.
Muay Thai words from three basic stances – the closed stance, which is used for kicks, the side stance, which is used for traps and setting up joint locks, and the horse stance, which is designed for powerful punches, and combinations. There's a lot of emphasis in the Muay Thai instruction DVDs on good stance and good footwork; you have to be able to go from a grab-and-pull to a head grab to a knee to the sternum, and for that you need good balance.
I'll be honest – I had an easier time with this one than most will; I've worked with Wing Chung Kung Fu and jiu jutsu for years, and a lot of the concepts transfer over well; most of what I got out of Muay Thai was the focus on pure pragmatism. It's entirely about taking the block and setting up the counterstrike, be it with knee, elbow, fist or foot. I could see from the Mauy Thai instructional DVD that I got that real Muay Thai practitioners get hit a lot – there's much more contact in the DVD than I'm used to seeing in training or sparring.
Following along, I got a good workout, and was really glad it was just me and a freestanding bag rather than me and some kid who's 10 years younger than me. Seriously, that Muay Thai instructional DVD made me feel my years. My knees were aching when I was done, and I was soaked. It was a good workout, like most martial arts training is. I can say this – I'd never try this with another person without some serious protective gear on me!
Yoshi E Kundagawa is a freelance journalist. He covers the mixed martial arts industry. For a free report on muay thai instruction dvd visit his blog.
Yoshi Kundagawa is a freelance journalist covering the martial arts world. Too much time at his computer eating donuts reduced him to couch potato status. He's on a quest to recapture his youth and fitness. You can read his blog at http://www.martialarts3000.com