6 kinds of Muay Thai knee strikes

November 3, 2015

Knee strikes, or ti khao, are an integral part of Muay Thai, the art of eight limbs. Below are details on six types of knee strikes that are commonly used in this martial art.

6 kinds of Muay Thai knee strikes

1. Straight knee strike

  • The straight knee kick (khao trong) is the first knee strike that Muay Thai students learn. This strike targets the opponent's midsection. It is executed by using both hands to grab the opponent's neck from behind, which forces their head down.
  • The powerful upward thrust of this kick is generated by arching the back and thrusting the hips forward.

2. Diagonal knee strike

  • The diagonal knee kick (khao chiang) is executed using the same clinching technique used in the straight knee kick. Instead of thrusting upward, the strike is directed diagonally to target the side of the body and the ribs.

3. Flying knee strike

  • The flying knee strike (khao loi) is a strong knee thrust that the practitioner delivers by jumping up and pivoting after a short run. It has the potential to knock out the opponent.
  • The right time to execute this kick is when your opponent appears to be off-balance or when you wish to narrow down the distance between you and your opponent.
  • Although a flying knee strike is spectacular sight when it is performed correctly, this aggressive strike can leave you unbalanced and open to attack.

4. Curving knee strike

  • The curving knee strike (khao khong) is used in close clinches that do not offer the space for a straight or diagonal knee kick. The knee moves parallel to the ground and targets the ribs.
  • Although it isn't a powerful strike, this kick can be used to wear an opponent down and get out of a clinch.

5. Rabbit knee strike

  • The rabbit knee (khao kratai) is a technique employed to break free from a clinch. This knee strike targets the opponent's knee. Repeated strikes can distract the opponent and allow you to escape from a hold.

6. Small knee strike

  • The small knee (khao noi) is used in a clinch to attack the inside of an opponent's thigh. It is an effective counter against knee strikes and is unleashed when the opponent raises his leg and exposes the sensitive portion of the inside of the thigh.
  • A small knee strike creates space for an elbow strike or a punch.
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