Unless you have been on the receiving end of a brutal knee strike, it is difficult to explain how it feels.
In Muay Thai, knee strikes are one of the most essential weapons a Muay Thai Fighter takes into the ring. Muay Khao (knee fighters) develop their style by frequent use of the knee, as no other strike has the potential to cause so much damage. As Muay Thai is a discipline where fighters who master the basics tend to excel, it is always beneficial to have a strong grasp of each strike.
Once a fighter has a firm understanding of various punches, kicks, elbows, and knee strikes, the next step is to perfect each one. The perfection of posture, timing, speed, and how to defend against counters when throwing strikes is what should be emphasized, but to become truly adept at mastering each of the weapons of Muay Thai, a practitioner needs power.
Developing power in your knees will take time, but this can be expedited by employing the right techniques and drills. So, if you are looking to strengthen your knees, read on.
Regardless of how incredibly gifted or talented you might be, if you are not physically fit, you will be exposed. You might get lucky once in a while, but this won’t last. The first step in developing powerful knees is to condition yourself as much as you can. You should be in excellent condition every time you fight, as you can be certain that your opponent will be.
Think of a battery-powered torch. It is only bright when those batteries are charged. This is the same for any fighter. Conditioning is key. When we get tired, our legs, which we use for mobility and striking in Muay Thai, will give out. This is even before we consider our opponent’s leg kicks. We rely on our legs, so we need to be in top-notch condition.
You can improve your conditioning in a number of ways. The best methods are still the old-school ways:
- Long distance running, such as 5+ days of 10k runs
- Sets of sprints, such as 5 x 100m sprints
- Hill runs
- Daily stretches and thrusts
- Stair runs
Modern ways can also improve your conditioning for delivering show-stopping knees:
- Box jumps
- Using resistance bands on the knees
- Leg presses
Once you are properly conditioned, the next logical step is to perfect your knees.
Drilling each technique —be it the straight, diagonal, curved, or horizontal knee—is required to develop power. The mechanics of the strike should be second nature to you in building serious power. Before you can apply the cherry (power) to the cake (the knee strike), it should be very natural for you, and you need to understand how important your posture, feet, legs, hips, and knees are for a perfect strike.
Knees are used a lot in Muay Thai. A number of different techniques can be thrown, which will depend on when they can be thrown. In other words, you will need to replicate each strike for the circumstances that demand it.
To replicate a flying knee, for example, you can use a heavy bag as a target, launching from the appropriate distance. You will drill the act of bending the knee, jumping, rotating the lead hip, and pointing your knee, following through to the target (the bag). You should be focused on mastering the art first and working on the power afterward. This point can never be understated.
Choose the type of knee strike you are looking to perfect and spend as much time as you can perfecting it. Then drill on it over and over again. Ensure to drill your knees during the different parts of training. Drilling your knees during shadowboxing, on the bag, on the pads, and in sparring, help to improve different aspects of the knees – such as your balance, posture, penetration, and timing. Improving all of these important components of your knees help to increase their power. It may take a few weeks before you notice a change in the power you can apply to the strike, but you will get there. With the right focus and attention to detail, you can reach your destination sooner than you anticipated.
Find the Right Coach and Team
The right coach and team will invariably help you develop more powerful knee strikes. Power is not something that everyone is born with, but it can be achieved. Generating power in knee strikes is not the same as lifting weights or holding your girlfriend over your head for a few minutes. Considerable focus on technique will have to be worked into your game before you can own those knees.
The only real way to get there is through practice and lots of drills. Even if you are relentlessly practicing your technique, there is a good chance you may have it wrong. You can watch countless videos, read hours of instructional material, and adopt a “do it yourself” approach, but nothing beats having the right coach and sparring partners.
To generate maximum power, your technique has to be perfected. A skilled coach will be able to break down every component of a strike, focusing on your posture, setup, execution, and delivery. By ensuring you dot all your i’s and cross all your t’s, you can be sure that everything else will follow. Iron sharpens iron, too, so training with fighters who can pass along a few tips here and there is crucial.