Ask any Muay Thai fan and they’ll tell you that multiple-time Muay Thai World Champion Nong-O Gaiyanghadao is the real deal. The Sakon Nakon native, Nong-O is a five-division multiple-time World Champion, 4x Lumpinee Muay Thai World Champion, 1x Rajadamnern Muay Thai World Champion, 2x Thailand National Champion, 2x Fighter of the Year, and more.
Considered to be one of the most aggressive and technical Muay Thai fighters in history, Nong-O is known for the incredible speed, power and precision behind all his strikes. Although all of Nong-O’s weapons are powerful, it is his roundhouse kicks that put him on a whole other level.
In fact, Nong-O has used his roundhouse kicks even against opponents with reach advantage. In this fight against Kiatpetch Suanaharnpeekmai, Nong-O managed to close the distance, landing more kicks and strikes against the taller and younger fighter. Unlike other nak muay te, Nong-O is able to land his kicks at an exceptionally long range for someone of his physique. Although he fights from an orthodox stance, Nong-O can throw an equally powerful kick from the southpaw stance.
The key to Nong-O’s kicks:
According to Nong-O, the key to throwing a kick is in your balance. Staying balanced allows you to execute a kick with full force and throw your whole body weight into the kick. It also ensures that you maintain good form throughout the fight.
To stay balanced, Nong-O stays on the balls of his feet as he rotates his hips to throw a kick. Nong-O also makes it a point to swing his rear hand downwards as he throws the kick to maintain balance. According to multiple-time Muay Thai World Champion Sagetdao Petpayathai, Nong-O’s former opponent, Nong-O’s balance is so good that even catching his leg or throwing him isn’t enough to get him off-balanced.
2) A great set-up
It doesn’t matter how powerful your kicks are. If you aren’t able to set them up properly, you won’t be able to land them, especially if your opponent’s guard is up. You must be able to convince your opponent to let his/her guard down in order to land a kick. To set-up his kicks, one of Nong-O’s favorite techniques is the switch kick and feint. Nong-O shuffles his legs and switches, then throws a devastating body kick.
In this fight, Nong-O once again outclassed yet another foreign opponent in the Toyota Marathon Tournament. This time, it was Ireland’s Stephen Hodgers. Nong-O made quick work of the much larger Hodgers, outsmarting him with a sweep before ending the fight with his signature switch kick to the body.
3) Train in both stances
Although Nong-O is an orthodox fighter, he is able to switch stances, depending on his opponent. To master the southpaw stance, Nong-O spars with as many different training partners as he can. This ensures that he is able to do well against fighters with different styles and stances, which certainly translates to his performance in the ring.
In this fight, Nong-O takes on Detnarong Wor Suntaranon. Although the fight started uncharacteristically fast for both Nong-O and Detnarong, both were looking to establish control from the minute they touched gloves. As usual, Nong-O feinted with a switch kick and landed a hard left kick straight to the body. Because Detnarong was an orthodox fighter, the kick was able to land flush in the middle, causing Nong-O to walk off with a KO victory.
4) Heavy bag work for power
To develop power in his kicks, Nong-O believes that the most effective technique is kicking the heavy bag. He described how his trainer would hold the bag up really high and let it swing down. Nong-O would then kick the bag as it swung down towards him. The swinging motion made the bag especially heavy and also helped him work on his timing.
Nong-O also believes that strength and conditioning, especially running before and after training, helped him build power in his kicks. Multiple-time Muay Thai World Champion Sagetdao Petpayathai can certainly attest to Nong-O’s powerful kicks. Although Sagetdao has faced many great opponents, he claims that Nong-O is “the hardest kicker” he’s ever come across in the ring.
5) Connecting with the shaft of the tibia (shin)
Another reason that makes Nong-O’s kicks so different is how he is able to connect with the shaft of the tibia (shin) instead of the instep and lower part of the tibia. The shaft of the tibia is the strongest and densest part of the shin, adding power to Nong-O’s kicks.
In this video, watch how the upper section of Nong-O’s shins land on the pads. Next time you try to execute a roundhouse kick in training, try to focus on using the shaft of the tibia instead of the lower part of the shin.
There’s no doubt that multiple-time Muay Thai World Champion Nong-O Gaiyanghadao has one of the most damaging roundhouse kicks of his era. His aggressiveness, combined with flawless technique and perfect timing has certainly helped him cement his status as one of the best pound-for-pound Muay Thai fighters in the world today.