Good thread rev,
we tend to post most of our MT technical stuff in the ATG thread which seems to have become the all things Muay Thai thread, so an individual thread could be good. I think Vic started one a while back, but it seems to have got lost, so a fresh one will be worthwhile.
The short answer to your question “The sidekick. Is it practical, and why/why not?”
in terms of the Muay Thai world is a resounding “NO” and I’ll try to explain why. (If it wasn’t made clear enough already by Yaca’s clip of Don Wilson getting his arse smashed buy a Thai at least 3 weight classes smaller
The style of Muay Thai I’m going to talk about is very much how Muay Thai is fought and trained in Thailand, not so much international Muay Thai or the kind of K-1 rules kickboxing you see, which are both to me great combat sports but just watered down versions of the real McCoy.
You very very rarely see a side kick in a pure Muay Thai bout or from a pure Muay Thai fighter. If you do it’s usually for show and form a big name such as Samart, Saenchai or Somluck when they fight a foreign fighter in a match of little importance when they’ve over rotated on their round kick but still find themselves in a position to strike and hence throw a weak opportune kick more for the crowd than anything else.
The main reasons for the traditional side kick being of little use against a Muay Thai fighter are largely around footwork and stance issues as well as lack of speed (telegraphing).
The Thai stance is almost square on, a little squarer than a traditional boxing stance, but with most of its weight on the anchored back foot giving you a sturdy platform to fight off and enabling you to strike with full power with every technique in your arsenal. If you’re almost square you aren’t restricted from using weapons on both the right and left of your body as you are in a side stance which you see often in the more traditional martial arts. Basically you can use both hands, both elbow, both knees and both feet in a split second depending on the situation all form one comfortable stance with most of the weight being on the back leg furthest away from your prey.
There are many reasons for most of the weight being on your back foot, mainly your back leg is your tree and you need to be able to counter with your lead leg fast without pulling it back. It’s also leaves your lead leg in a quick position to defend against round kicks high and low with ease as you don’t have to transfer weight. It enables you to use your front kick fast to jab and as an essential counter kick and to unset your opponent. It can be lifted quickly into a knee to break up an attempted clinch or punch combo as you lean back and push your arms out. But most importantly to this conversationin an MT bout your lead leg is a major and obvious target for damage, for setting up attacks or trying just in general to unset you and keep you off balance, so when it’s kicked you don’t want too much weight on it otherwise, it’ll be game over inside a round or you’ll be constantly off balance until you’re stopped.
To throw the side kick in a fast, un-telegraphed and effective manner you have to be in a pretty side on stance and side on is a place you really don’t want to be against a competent Thai boxer. When the side kick is thrown with the lead leg it’s obviously quicker than when thrown with the back leg and often lacks any real power in a flowing fight. So either before you throw the side kick or just after the kick your lead leg is right in front of the Thai boxer on a beautiful silver plate screaming “Punish me! Please, please, please kick the shit out of me!” and as we all know this is meat and potatoes to even a novice Muay Thai fighter.
As I said above in a side on stance you are also limiting your offensive options which is nuts in a fast, free flowing, full contact fight. You’re also limiting how many parts of the body you can defend with to. Being side on leaves your head dangerously exposed to a counter head shot amongst other nasty things. Being side on means anything you want to strike with from your “hidden” side will be seen coming a mile off cos you’ll have to switch you’re entire body to strike, a very slow and risky thing to do against powerful mid-level round kicks, brutal knees and easily getting pulled into an MT clinch that’s a lamb to a slaughter.
This leads me on to the to the backleg side kick, which I admit when timed well can be very powerful and awkward to deal with (for a round or two).The trouble is firstly it’s a slow kick and can be seen coming, which is easy to step back from and then counter. Now, if you’re throwing a powerful side kick with your back leg and you miss, which you probably will 9 times out of ten unless the guy is up against the ropes, is look where your foot lands after the strike……….. (1st above clip of the two bald headed Chinese dwarves @ 1.03-4)
Oooohhhhhh!!!!!!! I can hear every MT fighter all the way from Amsterdam to Bangkok looking at that and rubbing their hands with big smiles on their faces. That foot position is the absolute danger zone for any fighter in the world to be in against a Muay Thai fighter who is just waiting to slam a brutal baseball bat of round kick across your legs, into your body or into you’re pretty little face and from either leg.
That dangerous foot position is the main reason MT doesn’t have a side kick. In MT we have the front push kick or “teep” which doesn’t have the stopping power of a perfectly executed one off side kick put it basically does the same job, is faster, keeps you square so you’re not off balance after throwing it and can summon up just as much range and almost as much power when executed correctly with good hip extension.
There are other reasons, but this is getting a bit long, so I’ll stop ranting on (and I wanna watch the Olmpics). Above all remember real Muay Thai is about constantly moving forward, crowding and pressuring whilst looking for that little window to unload a powerful damaging strike. It’s not a beautiful art like Taekwondo or Kung Fu, it’s not about bouncing around unloading a flurry of well thought out and rehearsed combos like Kickboxing, it’s not an art with thousands of differing moves and techniques, it’s an art of a few simple and effective moves thrown with maximum power, it’s the ultimate in power striking and pressure fighting. Muay Thai is pure dynamic power, especially in Thailand.
Oh and that guy Cung Le looks good using it basically because he’s fighting a lot of striking novices or guys that are looking for other things and he throws it when he wants in his own time, which you can’t really do in a stand up MT bout.