8 limbs of muay thai

What are the 8 Limbs of Muay Thai

Muay Thai is a martial art that utilizes eight limbs in order to strike an opponent. You may wonder what these eight limbs are since we humans have only four of them. Well, in Muay Thai, the limbs are accounted for a little differently. Read on, and we will explain each limb in detail.

The eight limbs are the hands, elbows, knees, and feet. Each one of these limbs can be used in a variety of ways in order to score points and ultimately knockout or subdue an opponent. Each “limb” is counted as two; for example, your elbows count as two limbs since you have two of them, and both can be used as an effective weapon.

Muay Thai is a form of kickboxing that uses eight points of contact instead of the usual two found in other boxing styles. The “eight limbs” refer to the hands, feet, elbows, and knees – which are all used extensively in Muay Thai. This makes Muay Thai an incredibly versatile and effective striking art, as there are a huge variety of ways to attack an opponent.

Each of the limbs can be used in multiple directions or ways to cause severe damage to your opponent. For example, you can use your legs to throw a low kick, middle kick, high kick, a teep, and many more.

The eight limbs also symbolize the different areas of the body that Muay Thai practitioners train to toughen up.

woman muay thai fighter practice jab

The Hands

The first two limbs are the hands. The hands can be used in a few different ways in Muay Thai.

  • Jab: The jab is a quick, straight punch that is used to keep your opponent at bay or set up other punches.
  • Cross: The cross is a powerful, straight punch that is thrown with your rear hand. It is often used as a counterpunch after your opponent has thrown a jab.
  • Hook: The hook is a curved punch that is thrown with both hands. It is often used to catch your opponent off guard or to counter a straight punch.
  • Uppercut: The uppercut is a powerful, upward punch that is thrown with both hands. It is often used to catch your opponent when they are leaning forward or to finish them off after you have landed a few punches.
  • The spinning back fist: It can be effective and hard to predict if thrown correctly. It is thrown with your rear hand and involves spinning your body around to deliver a powerful blow to your opponent. There is also the variation of a spinning elbow strike which can be quite effective.

Your hands may even be the most important two limbs in Muay Thai since they serve to hold onto your opponent, throw him in the clinch, protect yourself, and of course, throw punches.

muay thai fighter hitting with elbow

The Elbows

There are two main types of elbow strikes in Muay Thai: the horizontal strike and the diagonal strike. The horizontal strike is thrown with the arm extended out to the side, while the diagonal strike is thrown with the arm raised at an angle.

The horizontal elbow strike is typically used to target the opponent’s head. This type of strike can be very effective in close quarters, as it allows the fighter to maintain a tight guard while still being able to deliver a powerful blow. Elbow strikes are known for their injury potential; they can easily cut the opponent’s face open since they are the sharpest of the limbs. Seeing a fighter bleed on their forehead, nose, or anywhere else on the face after receiving an elbow strike is not uncommon in Muay Thai.

The diagonal elbow strike is more often used as a counter-attack, as it can be difficult to land this type of blow when an opponent is moving forward. This type of elbow is often used to target an opponent’s head, as it can be more difficult for them to defend against.

The vertical elbow strike is mostly used in very close quarters; for example, if the two fighters are in a clinch, one could jump up slightly and throw a vertical elbow onto his opponent’s head. This elbow strike is not as common as the other two but is still used to an extent.

Elbow strikes can also be combined with other techniques, such as kicks or punches, to create a more powerful attack. For example, a fighter might throw a horizontal elbow strike followed by a roundhouse kick or a diagonal elbow strike followed by a jab.

muay thai high kick hitting opponent

The Kicks

There are many different ways to kick in Muay Thai, but one of the most important things to remember is that you need to be very quick and powerful with your kicks. Low kicks are usually aimed at the legs, middle kicks at the body, and high kicks at the head. There are also spinning back kicks, roundhouses, and sidekicks.

Low Kick

A low kick is exactly what it sounds like- a kick aimed low at the legs. This type of kick can be particularly effective because it can weaken your opponent’s leg muscles and make it difficult for them to stand or move around easily. If the opponent has difficulties moving, then it becomes easier to hit the target.

Middle Kick

A middle kick is also pretty self-explanatory- it’s a kick aimed at the midsection of your opponent’s body. This can be an effective way to score points or take your opponent down because it’s a fairly large target. Additionally, if you kick hard enough, you can wind your opponent and make it difficult for them to breathe. And if you hit the liver with a well-placed middle kick, your opponent will go down for sure. No matter how tough an opponent is, a liver shot takes absolutely everyone down.

High Kick

A high kick is a kick aimed at the head of your opponent. This is often considered the most dangerous type of kick because you can do a lot of damage if you connect. However, high kicks are also the most difficult to land because they require a lot of precision and power.

muay thai knee strike

The Knees

Knee strikes are an important part of Muay Thai and can be used to great effect in both offensive and defensive situations.

Straight Knee Strike

The most basic of knee strikes are taught to every Muay Thai student that walks into a Muay Thai gym. It is fairly simple but can be quite effective. You can use both the front and the back leg for this kind of knee strike, but a strike with the back leg will be more powerful for sure.

You simply pick up your back leg and throw it in front of you, using your knee as the point of contact. The straight knee strike can be used both within or outside the clinch.

Use your hips to generate power. This means that you should snap your hips forward when you throw the knee, adding extra force behind the strike.

 Another important thing to remember is to keep your weight balanced. If you lean too far forward or back, you will lose power and accuracy.

Diagonal Knee Strike

A Khao Chiang is a diagonal knee strike in Muay Thai. To execute this move, you will need to raise your knee and aim it towards your opponent’s ribs or side section. This strike is often used to surprise an opponent in the clinch and can be very effective in disrupting their balance and taking them down.

Curving Knee Strike

The curving knee strike is also mostly used in the clinch, meaning you cannot generate much power with this knee strike. However, it can be used to take your opponent’s focus away while striking with repeated curving knee strikes; it can also score you some points while doing so.

Flying / Switch Knee Strike

The flying knee strike is a powerful and often devastating move in mixed martial arts, Muay Thai, and kickboxing. It involves launching oneself forward and upwards, driving the knee into the head of an opponent.

This move can be executed from a number of different positions but is most commonly seen when one fighter has a gap to close between them and their opponent. It can also be used as a counter-attack when an opponent rushes in with their head down.

When throwing a flying knee strike, it is important to put your entire body weight behind the attack. This will not only increase the power of the blow but will also help to keep you balanced as you land.

Conclusion

Muay Thai is called “The art of the eight limbs” since it utilizes both your fists, elbows, feet, and knees to their utmost potential. A good Muay Thai fighter will learn how to throw various strikes with all of his limbs and combine the strikes into powerful techniques that will take their opponent down. A fighter who can use his eight limbs effectively will most likely win the fight by causing damage to the opponent while also using his limbs to protect himself accordingly.

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