Elements used in Combat Arts training – Part 1 – Muay Thai

The four martial arts that Gordon uses are Muay Thai Boxing, Kali, a Philippino Martial Arts that uses sticks and swords, Silat Buka Lingkeran, a south-east Asian martial art that originated on the battlefield and Jeet Kune Do or JKD which are ideas and training concepts created by Bruce Lee.

This article on Muay Thai is the first of four to give you an insight into the martial art elements that Combat Arts founder, Gordon McAdam, specialises in and uses in his training courses.


Muay Thai can also be traced to the middle of the 18th century. During the battles between the Burmese of the Konbaung Dynasty and Siam, the famous fighter Nai Khanomtom was captured in the year 1767. The Burmese knew of his expertise in hand-to-hand combat and gave him an opportunity to fight for his freedom. Nai Khanomtom managed to knock out ten consecutive Burmese contenders. Impressed by his boxing skill, he was freed by his captors and allowed to return to Siam. He was acknowledged as a hero, and his fighting style became known as Siamese-Style boxing, later to be known as Muay Thai.

Muay Thai is known as the "art of eight limbs" as it is characterized by the combined use of fists, elbows, knees, and shins and almost all techniques in Muay Thai use the entire body movement, rotating the hip with each kick, punch, elbow and block.

Punching (Chok)

Punching techniques in Muay Thai were originally quite limited, but as it fused with western boxing and western martial arts the full range of western boxing punches became incorporated: jab, straight and cross punch, hook, uppercut, swing, overhand punch, spinning back fist and superman punch.

As a tactic, body punching is used less in Muay Thai than most other striking combat sports to avoid exposing the attacker's head to counter strikes from knees or elbows.

Elbows (Sok)

The elbow strike is considered the most dangerous form of attack in the sport and can be used to great effects as blocks or defences. When well connected, an elbow strike can cause serious damage to the opponent, including cuts or even a knockout.

There are several ways the elbow can be used as a striking weapon: horizontal, diagonal-upwards, diagonal-downwards, uppercut, downward, backward-spinning and flying.

Kicking (Te)

The two most common kicks are the foot jab and the roundhouse kick.

The roundhouse kick uses a rotational movement of the entire body and draws its power almost entirely from the rotational movement of the hips, counter-rotation of the shoulders and arms are also often used to add torque to the lower body and increase the power of the kick as well. This kick has been widely adopted by practitioners of other combat sports.

If a roundhouse kick is attempted by an opponent, the Thai boxer will normally block the kick with the outside of his lower leg. Thai boxers are trained to always connect with the shin, this is because the foot is weaker as it contains many fine bones and a fighter may end up hurting himself if he tries to strike with his foot or instep.

Knee (Ti Khao)

Knee strikes are no doubt one of the most lethal and important aspects of Muay Thai.

Just like the elbow strike, a well-placed knee strike to the right area of the body has the potential to break a rib, open a cut, cause paralyzing muscle damage, or even knock an opponent unconscious. It will most certainly spell the end for your opponent.

In Muay Thai, there are eight different common knee strike techniques that can either be executed outside the clinch, in the clinch, or both: straight knee, diagonal knee, curving knee, horizontal knee, knee slap, knee bomb, flying knee and step-up knee.


Today Muay Thai is highly respected as a martial art, made famous by many MMA heroes and has a heavy focus on body conditioning and is specifically designed to promote the level of fitness and toughness required for ring competition.

It is less well known for the sophistication and subtlety of the art and the training methods, especially the ‘technical sparring’.

At Combat Arts, we teach the technical aspects of Thai Boxing as a martial art, and for fitness and conditioning that let you grow in movement, confidence and understanding.

If you are interested to learn more, contact us now to check availability in our small groups classes, or book your FREE 1-2-1 session..