The foot jab is used mainly in muay thai as a form of defense by itself but if you can’t get through this wall of protection then you can’t get close enough to score or do damage. So you have to learn how to defend against this defense.
The muay thai foot jab is a great technique but only if you have learned to use it correctly. Most western people, me included, have had some other martial arts background like karate or tae kwon do. These arts teach you to snap the front kick with your knee and to keep most of your weight forward to put more power into the kick. This doesn’t work as well against an art that is allowed to grab limbs.
When someone does a typical karate style front against a Thai boxer he will grab it quite easily because the opponents weight is forward and the leg cannot be retracted quickly and easily. The muay thai foot jab is easily retracted because the weight is further back.
The defense is the same though for both ‘snappy’ type karate front kicks or muay thai foot jabs. Here are the defensive tactics in detail…
1. Get out of the way – just leaning the body back isn’t good enough against the foot jab because the kick extends a great way froward. You have to step back or shuffle out of the way. You must be quick, however, because of the reasons above that the kick extends forward a great distance.
The best way to get your body out of the way is by side-stepping. You only have to move a small distance and the foot jab will miss completely.
2. Parrying – this is done with the palm of the hand as you side-step. If your opponent foot jabs off the front foot you parry with a downward/outward sweeping motion with your left hand (if you’re left-handed) whilst keeping you right rear hand up in front of your face.
You side-step right and parry the outside of your opponents shin to the left as the kick comes through. They should end up with their back turned slightly toward you where you can strike them with whatever you like.
If they foot jab with their rear leg you do the opposite. You side-step to the left whilst parrying the outside of the leg to the right. Again your opponent should end up with their back partially turned toward you.
3. Shielding – this is done with the knee primarily. Bring your forward or backward knee up in front of your body and bring your elbows down to meet it. Your elbows are just for back up as you want to catch it on the knee or shin.
4 Neutralize with your own attack – if your opponent is throwing a rear foot jab you might be able to get your own front leg foot jab in first. If your opponent chambers their leg and throws a karate style kick you may be able to punch them as they bring up their knee in preparation for the kick.
If they throw a muay thai style foot jab you won’t have time for this.
5 Grabbing the weapon – this is done as an extension of the parrying technique described earlier. Instead of parrying your opponents leg with an open palm you scoop it with your hand in a hook shape. The sweeping downwards/outwards action of the arm is finished off with a lifting up action as you secure the leg.
This can be done with either hand for either leg but I like the way described above because it makes sure you get out of the way first. If you miss catching the kick you are out of harms way anyway.
When you go up against a good Thai boxer with a mean foot jab it’s hard to know what to do because nothing works. Practice these muay thai defenses against them and you’ll suddenly have many more choices of attack.