Here is our monthly Muay Chaiya lesson… many thanks to our Muay Thai brother Nathan for taking the time to educate us. If you guys haven’t been over to his blog yet, mymuaythaichaiya.com It is worthy of a bookmark.
Yok Khao by Nathan
After some thought and talk with some muay thai friends, I decided to describe one to the base techniques of Muay Thai Chaiya, and point out some of the differences with modern Muay Thai. You guys can decide whether you can use the ideas. I’d love to hear your feedback.
Modern Muay Thai has the rising knee guard, to defend the legs, and torso from the devastating round kick of Muay Thai. Muay Chaiya also has this but there are a few distinct differences. Let’s start from the top.
Most techniques in Muay Chaiya use the famous ‘Tha Kru’ guard of Chaiya which closes the face off from jabs and straight punches more so than the standard muay thai technique, where the hands are held straight up leaving the face open. I’ve seen many a fight where the straight guard has been penetrated by a strong straight cross or lead, where the Chaiya guard would have offered more protection. The Muay Chaiya guard also emphasizes using the elbow more than the straight guard, both against incoming kicks and punches alike.
Again, modern Muay Thai seems to keep things straight, where as Chaiya uses and angle approach. Instead of using the shin to receive the punishment, the goal of blocking in Chaiya is to use the knee. This is reinforced by lifting the heel up as high as possible, in theory the shin should be held at a 45 degree angle. This
- Tightens the knee, making it a hard, more solid unit.
- Lessens the force of the blow (by half) to the shin, if not received by the knee.
- Adds weight behind the knee.
Think about kicking a corner of a table, and how much damage this causes.
Modern Muay Thai teaches to point the foot down, whereas Muay Chaiya teaches to lift the foot and toes up. This is primarily to protect the soft, delicate upper part of the foot. By lifting the toes, the tendons on the top of your foot become tense and help protect it, and the muscles in the shin are also tensed, so they are less likely to be damaged when receiving a blow. Also, your foot is now pre-prepared to deliver a good ‘teeb’ kick.
On from the basics
A good Chaiya fighter is at home on one leg as one two (a lot of the basic training ensures this), and by using stop kicks (chat) and a rotating guard to increase its effectiveness against oncoming attacks, it can be a very useful defensive tactic. Add to this, short hopping moves to change the defense into quick powerful attacks. Anyone fancy turning the tables on a kick, by replying with a superman punch?
Remember, this is just a short explanation of a foundation technique, and there are a lot more details that you learn in training. The amount of different techniques that we learn, and the emphasis about learning instinctive improvisation leads to a very solid unpredictable fighter.
Thanks to Jonathan Emil Tetzlaff Ebbesen for helping with the photos
More about Nathan
Starting with Judo at the early age of 7, Nathan Brown was a student martial arts (Taekwondo, Kung Fu, Chinese Boxing, Tai Chi, Jeet June Do) and eastern philosophy long before moving to Thailand in 2002, looking for a life more attuned to the Taoist philosophies that he had come to love.
The first meeting with Ajarn Lek made a great impression, especially after sparring with Tae for the first time and seeing the beauty in simplicity which is Muay Thai Chaiya. Seeing the practicality in defense, and efficiency and directness of attack, he also saw many similarities with the more advanced concepts of fighting that he’d learnt from studying the Jeet Kune Do concepts of Bruce Lee. Kru Nathan has learnt Muay Thai Chaiya for over 7 years from Ajarn Lek, who refuses to teach the fancy superfluous moves which now seem to be the trademark of Muay Boran, instead teaching the style in it’s practical, useful form.
Kru Nathan has spent over two years teaching the style in Thailand (teaching in both Thai and English), and 8 years after coming to Thailand Kru Nathan is now looking to take Muay Thai Chaiya international, starting workshops and private tuition.