by Don Heatrick

Why is there typically more shouting during strikes in Muay Thai training than in fighting?

In this episode, I’ll share my thoughts on this specifically, and on breathing during Muay Thai in general…

Why More Shouting In Muay Thai Training Than Fighting?

In Muay Thai, there should be an exhale both as you throw each strike, and as you absorb incoming strikes too.

This achieves 3 main objectives…

First, if you hold your breath while throwing a combination, or guarding up while absorbing an incoming one, you’ll run out of oxygenated blood prematurely.

This switches your energy production to the lactic energy system, and you’ll prematurely gas out!

Exhaling deliberately causes you to automatically inhale afterwards…

Try it, you won’t even have to think about it…

Then you’re grabbing oxygen to pump around your bloodstream to keep your muscles contracting efficiently

Secondly, forceful exhalation while throwing power shots should be produced by the diaphragm rather than the throat.

Diaphragmatic shouts increase intra-abdominal pressure, aiding power transfer from the hips, via the core (with is crucial), to the striking limb.

What Japanese martial arts refer to as a Kiai.

And this gives rise to a variety of sounds depending on the individual, and the type of strike being thrown.

In fact, to illustrate how important the core is to your striking…

The classic research paper, “Means of Increasing Strength of The Punch” by Filiminov and others, shows that the core contributes around 38% to the punching strength of expert boxers.

I’ll put a link to another video on this, with a download of that paper along with this episode.

So the core is a big deal, and a major reason you find yourself hissing, grunting, or shouting as you explosively throw your punches and kicks.

Thirdly, exhaling as you absorb an incoming strike acts either like an airbag to dissipate the force (especially blows to the torso)…

And it also creates more stability through the core to reduce loss of balance and position.

Bracing like this is a great habit to develop, even while holding the pads for training partners too!

I know when I hold pads, I “hiss” as I catch each incoming strike too.

This habit alone can make you much more resilient to body shots…

And a good reason I didn’t get stopped with body shots in a fight against the ferocious body snatcher, Mike Clarke in our fight back in February 2012!

But, why do I think you hear less shouting in fights?

My thoughts on this come from my own personal observation, not any research that I’ve come across…

I find I tend to “hiss” as I strike while I’m fresh and not too fatigued, even when throwing full power shots.

As my heart rate increases, my noises change!

At about 90-95% of maximum heart rate, my hisses are largely replaced by some kind of shout.

The sound of the shout depends on the strike I’m throwing, and how it activates my core and diaphragm.

So each strike has a different (and involuntary) noise, once I’m operating beyond my anaerobic threshold heart rate and I’m pushing into fatigue.

No doubt, some fighters likely shout just for effect, and perhaps to influence scoring during a fight itself – even if they don’t “need” to due to effort.

But during a fight, the majority of fighters are actually operating around their anaerobic threshold (so they don’t gas out).

And as such, they don’t tip significantly into the all out, fatigued, throwing of strikes like you do in training.

Hence, why I believe there’s generally less noise in fights than in training…

Where training is about overload, fighting is more about efficient use of energy, so as not leave yourself ‘dead in the water’ and gassed out – unable to defend yourself.

I believe there’s a natural factor of safety going on in a fight compared to training.

And that’s why there’s typically less shouting during fights.

Don Heatrick

Founder of Heatrick Strength and Conditioning

Don Heatrick is a family man from the UK, former mechanical design engineer, European Muay Thai silver medallist, former pro Thai boxer (ranked 4th in UK while aged 40-years), a Muay Thai coach, podcast host, and the go-to expert on Muay Thai performance training with over 25 years of coaching experience.

Don helps ambitious fighters and coaches take their game to the next level by bridging the gap between Strength & Conditioning, Performance Science, and Muay Thai.

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