Generating power in muay Thai

Here’s an interesting video. It covers generating power in muay Thai, at least, one of the ways:

Sylvie is a fellow Patreon creator and has a lot of great content for you if you do muay Thai. She trains with some of the all-time greats and makes videos of the sessions. I liked this one a lot as it covers a topic I’ve spent a lot of time working on: power generation.

There is a myth in martial arts: the human body can only move in so many ways.

This is then used to talk about the similarities between different techniques and styles. But it violates Randy’s Law which says that the differences are just as important. When it comes to generating power, this applies in spades.

Muay Thai has some very specific methods, but they are inherent to the art and its rules/limitations. It’s one of the reasons you see precious few Thai fighters transition successfully to MMA: the power generation has a few serious flaws for the different rules and allowed techniques.

But when it comes to stand-up fighting, you don’t know what it is like for a Thai fighter to punch or kick you until you experience it. Their striking has a different feel when compared to other styles and combat sports. Not better or worse, just different and you need to feel it to understand what I mean.

Anyway, I wanted to share this video because it shows in detail how you should train for power generation: methodical and with patience.

It is not about quickly doing it and then trying to apply it when you spar or fight: you have to ingrain the technique so you almost can’t do it wrong, no matter what. Too many young fighters ignore this phase of training and then don’t understand why they get beat up by guys who look like they aren’t even trying. So I suggest you take the time to watch the full video and see how you can apply everything in it for your own training.

 

One thing Chatchai shows her is to hold back the shoulder before letting it rotate in a punch. This is a physical phenomenon called the stretch-shortening cycle. In short, you stretch a muscle/tendon before contracting it. This makes it contract harder and generates more power.

Try this:

  • Do a vertical jump by bending your knees quickly and immediately jumping as high as you can. Note the height.
  • Do the same thing, except this time you pause three seconds with your knees bent. Then you jump. Note the height and compare with the first jump.

Your second jump will suck because the stored elastic energy can’t be used then and the muscle fibers won’t contract as well. When you quickly go from bending to straightening your legs, you jump high without much effort. The same happens with the muay Thai punches she’s being shown.

The upside of this method is an instant gain in power if you do it right.

The downside is that it is difficult to do when you are tired or have taken damage. It also risks long-term damage to the shoulder joint. Given my shoulder problems, I don’t use it often anymore, but you can make it work for you.

Another thing he mentions is using the full rotation of the body, including the lower half, to develop power in the cross punch. He also mentions alignment of the arm with the shoulder joint. This is sometimes referred to as “hitting with structure”. It means you “connect” your entire body to the punch instead of it being arm-dominant. As a result, you don’t depend as much on acceleration to create an impact and relatively “slow” punches still have a lot of power.

I cover that (and also the weight transfers he mentions) in detail in my Power/Control video, along with a lot more. Look at the drill with the barbell in my neck at about 40 seconds in the trailer, as well as the staff training afterward. These train the ability to use kinetic chains correctly and to their maximum potential. They also teach how to separate weight transfers from rotations and how to combine them. You need both to be an effective fighter, in muay Thai and in other arts.

The way the drill is structured, you first move in largesse to get the details right. Gradually, the drill changes to smaller mechanics and finally it turns into techniques. By that time, if you trained correctly, you have great body mechanics and have lots of power in every move you make.

Sylvie has lots of videos and instructional material. I no longer train much in muay Thai, but if you do, I very much recommend checking out everything she offers.