4 Important Key Muay Thai Footwork Movements
Podcast by Jemima
What do you know about Muay Thai footwork? If you’re new to this combat fighting style and you’ve never trained in it before, you should know that Muay Thai fighters must have excellent mobility.
How To Improve Muay Thai Footwork?
If you can practice with a partner, that would be great and it will help you improve that much faster. You can be each other’s mirror while training and it’ll help your training be more realistic. Just don’t hurt each other.
Some of you might be in a rush to learn these Muay Thai footwork drills and think that you’re ready for this training, but I have to ask you, have you trained and mastered any of the Muay Thai stances yet?
If your answer was no, before you start working on your footwork drills, you need to learn how to properly use and position yourself in one or more of the Muay Thai stances. If you don’t know how to use a Muay Thai stance, then you can learn how to do that by reading this article here.
You have to perfect your stance before you start your footwork training. Your stance and footwork go together like peanut butter and jelly. If you don’t like this sandwich, then they go together like fish and water.
If you’re having trouble with your stances, you’re going to have trouble with everything else. Check this article I wrote on fixing problems you’re experiencing in your technique.
For you to have great footwork, you need your stances to be on par because they’re your foundation, and a bad foundation is going to send everything crumbling down sooner or later.
After you learn how to position yourself in your stance, it’s time to learn the footwork required to properly and quickly move around. It doesn’t matter what attacks or defenses you’re applying, you’ll always start and return to your original stance.
Just as important as your stances are, your footwork is also not to be taken lightly. Remember fish and water. You can’t master one without the other.
The importance of footwork in Muay Thai is no secret, in fact it is one of the most important aspects of fighting. In most MMA gyms you may see inexperienced fighters without the proper footwork having their power, aggression and ability to time the right strikes working against them.
In this article I will provide the most important footwork movements for both striking and defense.
Muay Thai Footwork For Beginners
Before we begin your Thai footwork training, you need to know the following:
- Whenever you use any of these movements, make sure you don’t spread your legs too far out from each other because your balance will be at stake. This is what your opponent is waiting for, to find a defect in your armor and to gain an advantage over you.
- This also means the same thing if you were to bring your feet too close together.
- Beware to make sure your feet are not too far apart and they’re not too close together because in Muay Thai, your balance is one thing you don’t want to lose during a fight. Don’t make this a weakness and use it as your advantage.
- For you to make use of these footwork techniques, you have to be aware of your weight distribution and proper placement of your legs.
How do you keep your balance while practicing Muay Thai? To keep your balance while practicing Muay Thai, you must practice your stance and footwork so much that they become second nature to you. Only when this happens are you going to know exactly where your feet are at all times.
Once you get your footwork down, you are going to be very tough to hit but remember, your footwork is the base for your offensive and defensive fighting techniques, so you’re going to want to make sure you practice your stance and footwork together until they become your greatest assets.
You know just as well as I do that a moving target is a hard target to hit, especially when you’ve got solid footwork. I know I’ve hit this on the head multiple times, so if you’re open-minded, then you know these two are major for winning fights.
8 Muay Thai Footwork Key Points To Apply
Key point 1: In order for you to be a competent fighter, you must be able to gain balance in your form because it’s a key factor in your fighting style.
If you have no balance, then you are not going to be able to gain much speed and accuracy. In order to increase your speed, you must have great footwork. This also means that you should also be able to move your feet at all times in the most efficient manner.
Key point 2: For you to strike quickly and accurately, and to easily move in any direction, you need to be on the balls of your feet.
It’s imperative that you don’t allow your feet to touch the ground when you are moving (You’ll understand how once you go over each technique). You should always be able to move forward, backward, left and right, with no issues.
Key point 3: Keep your feet shoulder-width apart.
This will allow you to keep your balance and to quickly change directions. If you keep your feet shoulder-width apart, then you will be able to hit and move with ease.
Something to think about: There’s no point in fighting if you don’t have a solid stance or footwork. If you don’t have a solid stance, you’ll be running in place while trying to punch or get punched by your opponent.
Key point 4: Keep working on your footwork as often as you can. The more often you work on your footwork, the faster and more fluid you’ll be.
Key point 5: Learn to change your balance as quickly as possible.
You need to learn to quickly change your balance from one side to the other, and to be able to change from forward to backward in a fraction of a second.
Key point 6: Footwork is a very effective weapon for both offense and defense.
Whether you’re attacking or defending, you want to be able to use your footwork during a fight in a powerful and effective way.
Key point 7: Always try to add a new and unique movement or a new way of thinking to your footwork, even if it’s just a little variation.
Key point 8: Here are some things you shouldn’t do and how they can corrupt your footwork.
- Doing the same things over and over will cause your form to stagnate and make your footwork worse.
- You need to make your technique your weapon, not your crutch.
- Don’t bring your feet together too closely and don’t spread them out too far.
- Never show your back to your opponent and make sure your position is strong.
- Never change your stance to the point that you lower yourself by bending your legs or by leaning In any direction that leaves you vulnerable to attack, unless this is your only option to dodge your opponent’s attack.
Remember that footwork isn’t just about moving your feet, it’s about staying balanced in your form.
To move effectively with your feet you need to be able to move them as quickly as possible. Your body should move in a fluid motion, without looking like a total mess.
Again, you need to be able to move in any direction with ease. Learn to work with your feet and you will become a better fighter.
Now that you’ve learned all of these key points, this brings us to the four important key Muay Thai footwork drills.
These drills should be learned and mastered. They are the stepping, pivoting, sliding, and switch stepping techniques.
We’ll begin with the stepping footwork.
Muay Thai Footwork – Stepping
When using stepping footwork make sure you use the foot that’s closest in the direction you’re moving in.
When you’re moving forward, move with the front foot and then with the follow with the rear making sure that your rear is covering the same distance as your front.
When you’re moving to your left make sure you start with your left foot and then follow it with your right foot. This is the same if you were moving into the right direction, starting with your right foot and then following that with your left foot.
No matter the direction that you’re stepping into, make sure that you’re stepping foot is very close to the surface. You need to make your stepping foot look as if it’s sliding.
When performing this type of footwork, there’s going to be exceptions when your foot may need to be lifted higher than normal. This can happen when you’re checking your opponent and you need to lift your leg up high enough to stop a kick and then step forward with the same leg so you can implement your own attack.
At the same time, you do not want to raise your foot to such an extent that it’s going to leave you vulnerable. This provides plenty of time for your opponent to attack you and knock you off balance, maybe even worse.
It’s important for you to keep your foot close to the surface during stepping movements, making sure that your form is always solid and that you stay in a position to defend yourself. By doing this, you also give yourself the opportunity two attack when you’re ready.
Muay Thai Footwork – Pivoting
The pivoting technique is not easy to learn but it’s a great addition to your tool set if you are able to master it.
The Muay Thai pivoting footwork requires you to spin on the ball of your foot while swinging your other foot around in a clockwise or counterclockwise direction depending on what you’re trying to do.
While performing this movement your body should also be turning at the same time.
Pivoting Footwork – Step Left
How do you know if you’ve completed this footwork correctly? To know if you’ve completed this movement correctly you should be able to land back into your original stance.
When pivoting you can choose whichever foot you want to pivot on and you’ve got two options of choosing between a quarter or a half rotation distance for your pivot.
What’s probably going to be the hardest thing you’re going to experience when working on mastering Muay Thai pivoting footwork? It’s obviously going to be your balance, so you’re going to need to make sure that you stay balanced on the ball of the foot that you’re using to pivot on.
When you’re pivoting you also need to make sure that your hips are swinging in the same direction you’re pivoting, keeping your body perfectly straight.
Pivoting Footwork – Step Right
Another thing that you need to be careful of is not to rotate too far because if you’re trying to get out of trouble or if you are setting yourself up to attack your opponent, you are going to put yourself in a worse situation than when you started out.
You must make sure that the foot you’re sliding with stays close to the surface and that you’re not up on one leg, to prevent yourself from being thrown off balance. This helps you stay grounded throughout your movements.
Here are a couple of examples of using the pivoting maneuver, which if done correctly, will leave you in a position of advantage against your opponent.
- The first is when you find yourself in trouble and against the ropes, as your opponent comes towards you to attack, you can simply step out of the way and pivot. When you perform this technique, you reverse the situation and switch places with your opponent.
- The second is during a clinch. You can either use your pivot to throw your opponent or you can defend yourself by moving out of the way of your opponent’s attacks.
11 Pivoting Muay Thai Key Points To Be Aware Of
Key point 1: Make sure to stay balanced on the ball of your grounded foot that you’re using to pivot on.
Key point 2: If you do not have a firm footing, or you’re trying to get out of a bad situation, try and maintain a strong and balanced body position.
Key point 3: If you need to stop your pivoting foot you can always slide your non pivot foot along the ground to do so.
Key point 4: In some situations you can slide your non pivot foot along the ground to perform a change of direction, in this case your non pivot foot is now your pivot foot.
Key point 5: When you pivot make sure to return to your original stance.
Key point 6: You can use either foot you want to pivot.
Key point 7: When pivoting, you can perform a quarter half or full rotation as this depends on the situation.
Key point 8: Whenever pivoting footwork is used, it’s mostly done after you step or slide. If you’re going to step outside of your opponent, then you can use this chance to pivot and position yourself for an attack.
Key point 9: Try your best to keep your body straight, because if you lean over too much you’re going to leave yourself open for attack, not to mention throwing your body off balance.
Key point 10: Examples of using Muay Thai pivoting footwork.
- To avoid an opponent coming straight at you.
- To get out of the ropes.
- To counter your opponent.
- To change your position by attacking your opponent.
Key point 11: If you over rotate you’re going to throw yourself off balance.
As I mentioned previously this is a great technique to master and you should put the time in to do so because it’s worth having. Just make sure to avoid some of the bad habits that people pick up during training.
Now let’s talk about Muay Thai sliding footwork and how you can implement it into your toolbox.
Muay Thai Footwork – Sliding
Sliding footwork sounds kind of weird right? It might be if you’re thinking along the lines of sliding on a hard surface. But this is not that kind of sliding and there’s no way you could attempt Muay Thai sliding footwork on a regular surface or outside on the ground, at least not that way.
You’d probably end up stumbling and falling on your face. This is a whole different type of sliding and you’ll see what I mean and why I say it’s different.
This technique turns out to be an excellent one to use if you’re planning to attack your opponent quickly or you need to get away when your opponent attacks you.
Just like the previous pivoting technique, you might find this also hard to learn and maybe you won’t. Hopefully it’s all natural for you. Either way, work on it and continue to do so.
Let’s discuss how this technique works.
As a fighter, sometimes you need to cover a lot of ground and you have to cover it quickly.
Assume that you want to use this technique to move forward. Then you will need to lunge off your rear foot which is going to send your front foot forward. As your foot moves, you’re going to give the appearance that it’s smoothly gliding over the surface, as if without any resistance. You’re not actually touching the floor or ground.
While your front foot is still moving and hasn’t landed yet, your rear foot is going to quickly follow along behind so as not to leave your legs spread too far apart. You’re not trying to do a split. Your whole body will be moving together in unison and you should appear as if both feet are now gliding.
To slide backwards you are going to push off your front foot which is now your lead foot and follow the same steps you performed during your forward sliding movement.
As a beginner trying to learn this technique you might find it difficult to learn. Some people tend to push off their front foot when moving forward and off their back foot when they’re trying to slide backwards.
You don’t want to do this because this is not Muay Thai. This is nothing but pure and simple skipping.
Another thing beginners find themselves doing while performing the sliding technique is jumping. If you form this habit of jumping during your sliding movement, you’re going to get caught off guard when facing a better fighter and you’re going to get hit.
If you’re someone who’s doing this now and you’ve been getting away with it, I would suggest that you lose this bad habit because it leaves your defenses weak. A fighter who sees this weakness in your stance is not going to pass up the chance to attack you.
A good way of fixing any shortcomings in your technique is to easily check your form while practicing this type of footwork in the mirror. Check your leg work, make sure you’re not spreading your legs out too far, make sure you’re not skipping, and as I just mentioned previously, don’t jump.
If you’re in the gym and you’re practicing, there’s plenty of mirrors to use. If you’re at home and you don’t have standing or wall mirrors, invest in one because it’s going to save your Muay Thai from turning sloppy.
Now let’s move on to the switch step, a technique I’m pretty sure you’ve seen in other styles.
Muay Thai Footwork – Switch Stepping
I’m pretty sure you’ve seen this in the movies. A guy is in a fight and he’s showing off his switch stepping ability to try and fool his opponent to set him up for a leg kick or maybe a punch.
The switch step is basically taking your left lead stance and changing it with your right lead stance or vice versa. It’s as simple as switching your lead feet. You’re not covering any distance or moving in any direction.
Muay Thai Footwork – Switch Stepping Smoother Movement
Muay Thai Footwork – Switch Stepping Regular Movement
This leg work is completed by using a small hop, just enough so you can get your body weight in the air to move your feet for the switch. For example, move your front leg back and your rear leg forward.
When you’re doing this switch step, you don’t want to telegraph your movement. What I mean by this is, you don’t want to jump too high or over do the jump in some way, and leave your feet both off the ground long enough for you to be open for attack.
Muay Thai Footwork – Switch Stepping With Pivot
Muay Thai Footwork – Switch Stepping Kick With Heavy Bag
Muay Thai Footwork – Switch Stepping Knee Kick With Heavy Bag
Muay Thai Footwork – Switch Stepping T-Kick With Heavy Bag
Ways And Reasons Why You Use The Switch Step
Reason number 1: This is the first and most common reason for the switch step, which is to build up power for a knee or leg kick. If you find an opening in your opponent’s stance and you have an opportunity to land a kick, then you can quickly switch step your lead leg back to accumulate enough power for an explosive hit.
It’s true that your leg will have a longer distance to it’s target, but like I said, when you make contact it is going to be very powerful. Here’s the thing to remember, as soon as you make your switch step, you’ve got to be ready to instantly throw your kick.
The reason it is so important to quickly kick right away after switch stepping is because if you hesitate, then you’re going to allow your opponent time to read your movements. If you do this, then it was all for nothing because now you’ve allowed your opponent to see what you’re doing, and you’ve given him or her all the time needed to move out the way. If your opponent doesn’t need to move, you’ve still alerted him or her to be on guard.
Reason number 2: You can use the switch step to stay clear of attacks.
Say that your opponent is going to throw a kick and try to land it on the inside of your leg, it’s a low kick and it’s going to be against your lead leg. To avoid this kind of kick, you can quickly use your switch stepping footwork to make him or her miss their target.
When performing this technique successfully, your opponent will be thrown off balance. You, on the other hand, are now in a position of power and control. After making the switch to your lead leg and taking it back to the rear, you’ve now set yourself up to attack the other fighter who’s currently off balance with a Thai kick.
But to pull this off you’re going to need to do this right away to take advantage of the situation, because he’s also going to try to get back in his original fighting stance.
Reason number 3: Remember the guy I mentioned earlier in the movies? The one who’s switch stepping and showing off for the camera. If used correctly and realistically, you can use a switch step to try and fake out your opponent. Just don’t start switching steps like you’re in a dance competition.
What you’re doing here is switching back and forth between a normal stance and a southpaw stance. You’re doing this to see what your opponent is going to do and how he’s going to react.
Your Opponent might think that you’re going to throw a kick but what you’re really doing is just switch stepping.
He might think that you’re throwing a kick with your right leg but you’re really setting up to throw a kick with your left leg and vice versa. This is a good way to catch him or her off guard.
What To Do Next
Muay Thai with its particular footwork is a great combat fighting style to learn because it requires such excellent mobility.
I hope the main points from this article have been enjoyable and insightful. I’ve outlined how to effectively learn stepping, pivoting, sliding and switch-stepping techniques from home.
If you’re looking to learn these techniques, start your Muay Thai Footwork Training From Home Now and enjoy an MMA warriors workout!
Is footwork important in MMA? Footwork has many applications in combat sports, but it is particularly helpful in MMA or any combat sport for that matter. It is a combination of movement, timing, direction, and technique. It gives you the advantage over an opponent who lacks this skill. A great fighter will utilize footwork to control the distance between oneself and an opponent in any given direction, to force an opponent to move away, then punish him or her for it. The fighter who controls the distance and the flow of the fight is the person who will win.
What martial art has best footwork? Boxing by far is the most impressive when it comes to footwork, with Muay Thai very closely matched. It’s a sport that demands precise footwork, where the positioning of a fighter has to be spot on. You need to know how to position your feet in the right place at the right time, so that you don’t get clipped by your opponent.