Muay Thai Techniques
Sharing Real Life Techniques of Muay Thai for the Student and Professional


One of my favorite knees to teach students is the independent knee (IK) and is the foundation for the other knees.  An IK is a knee without the use of a clinch or leaping off the ground (AKA Flying Knee).  You can grab the shoulder, the top of the head or nothing at all.  Like most “advanced” techniques the IK should be set up with some other technique, i.e.; punch, kick, etc.  The time that you may not have to set up the IK with another technique is if you’re fighting someone that pushes their way forward with their head down, i.e.; an unskilled boxer turned Muay Thai Kickboxer.

 Here’s how to do the basic Independent Knee:
1. Punch or kick your opponent and when you see they have ducked or covered.
2. Reach out with your right hand and grab their right shoulder or top of their head.
3. Tuck your chin and have your left arm come across your face covering your right temple.
4. Push your right knee out (not up – VERY IMPORTANT)
5. Lean your torso back
6. Pull the shoulder/head with you
7. Drive your knee with your hips
8. Raise up on the balls of your feet on your support leg
9. Keep your right knee completely bent, pointing the toes back

You can do this without grabbing anything.  Just drive your knee out towards your opponent.

Some of the problems that I’ve seen with this technique are:
1.  Not setting up the Independent Knee and just throwing it out there.
2. Not throwing it like you mean it – If you’re going to use the IK, use it forcefully.
3. Not leaning far enough back to get the hips into the motion.
4. Not protecting your melon.

Here are two videos that use the Independent Knee. See if you can determine who uses the technique more effectively. Why is one technique better than the other? What did they do right? What did they do wrong? What could they do to improve their technique?

Buakaw vs. Kalakoda, K-1 Max Elimination, 05Apr06

Zambidis vs. Drago, K-1 World Max, 26Jun07

Here’s some photos of Duke Roufus doing the techniques:


Catching a kick, grabbing the head and delivering the knee.


Throwing the hook, grabbing the hand, then grabbing the head.


I run a drill with my wife where we “pretend” she’s being attacked by a rapist, crazy guy, whatever and she attempts to distract/knock out the individual with an elbow.  (I know, I’m nuts, I need help!)  Anyhow, I pin her against a wall and I make her fight to keep her hands in the ready position (hands to the face).  She then attempts to throw elbows to the temple, chin or orbit (hole where the eyeball sits).  I use focus mitts for the drill and I make an attempt to keep her arms down.

Well, we were practicing this drill a while back and instead of striking the focus mitt, she decided to hit me in the temple.  Now, I couldn’t get mad because he did what she was training to do, but lucky for me she didn’t strike me with the tip of her elbow, but with the side of her elbow.  She winced in pain, said her fingers fell asleep and she needed a few minutes to recover.  This typically doesn’t happen when you strike Thai Pads or Focus Mitts, but will happen if you hit something solid like a wall, table or your husbands temple (Ever hit your “funny bone”?).  God forbid this happens in a fight in a cage or a fight for you life.

What you’ll notice as you train people is that their form deteriorates as they get tired.  In the case of the horizontal elbow, the hand should travel across the face towards the opposite ear.  When folks start getting tired, you’ll notice the hand will drop towards the hip and the elbow will strike on the side.  The reason you don’t want to strike in this fashion is you’ll hit your “Funny Bone” or what is better known as the Ulnar Nerve (UN).


The Ulnar Nerve (UN) runs the length of the arm from the shoulder to the hand.  You can locate your UN by feeling the tip of your elbow and then moving towards the bend in your arm.  If you flex/bend your arm back and forth, you’ll feel the “rubbery” tendon.  When you hit the Ulnar Nerve, your pinky and ring finger will fall asleep and it hurts like crazy.  If you hit your Ulnar Nerve hard enough you can actually cause damage to it.

Here are some pictures of my wife and her girlfriend showing a proper elbow and an elbow that will strike the Ulnar Nerve.


Good elbow strike with the tip of the elbow making contact.  The hand is relaxed and comes across the face.


A “not so good elbow” where the side of the elbow is used to strike horizontally.  This would be a good elbow if it were used to strike down, kind of like an overhand punch, but since it’s used as horizontal strike, the Ulnar Nerve would strike the target, not the elbow


The video on the post “Knee – Scientific Proof” is a portion of this whole video.  It’s called fight science, but it’s more fight entertainment.  I’m not sure how much science was invovled in making this program.