Muay Thai guarding is more of an art than a science, and is a critical skill that can transform your sparring and fighting abilities.

Let’s dive into the key aspects that can help refine your defensive strategy to level up your protection, while downscaling your cognitive load – a winning combination for any fighter!

by Don Heatrick

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Muay Thai Guarding – Principle Based Approach

Today, we’re delving into the intricate world of Muay Thai guarding – a vital skill that can truly reshape your game.

Imagine a guarding technique that not only fortifies your defence but also streamlines your focus for laser-sharp precision. That’s exactly what this three-level guarding system is designed to do, and I’m thrilled to guide you through its intricacies!

Think of it as adjusting your awareness levels, akin to how you shift your focus in various life scenarios. Let’s kick things off with the Green Alert – at long-range, where you can only be reached by a kick.

Here, you’re maintaining a safe distance between you and your opponent. Your hands are at ease, and your mind is calm yet vigilant. You’re poised for action without the overwhelm.

As you inch closer, you enter the Yellow Alert – the medium range, where straight punches can reach you. This is where the intensity amps up. Your hands are raised, guarding your face, elbows pointing forwards.

It’s a calculated readiness, where your mind is sharp and targeted. You’re on the lookout for the subtle cues that hint at an impending strike. It’s about being primed to counter and defend without drowning in overthinking.

Then arrives the Red Alert – the close range. This is where the energy surges, where hooks, uppercuts, and elbows come into play. Your guard is steadfast, hands positioned high, and your mind fully engaged.

Now, here’s the intriguing part – by heightening your awareness, you’re actually streamlining your cognitive workload. It’s like clearing a pathway for your thoughts and responses to flow effortlessly.

Muay Thai Guarding Strategy

Now, let’s delve into strategy. In the Green Alert, you’re scanning the larger battlefield from a distance, noting movements and deciphering patterns.

Transitioning to the Yellow Alert, your focus becomes more intense. You’re zeroing in on those minute indicators that herald an attack.

And as you activate the Red Alert, you’re in full gear – every twitch, every shift is under your watchful gaze.

But here’s the game-changer. To amplify your awareness, try focusing on your opponent’s chest. It might seem counterintuitive, but it’s remarkably effective.

Utilising your peripheral vision, you’re able to detect movements without fixating on their eyes. It’s akin to widening your view of the arena, ready to predict any forthcoming move.

Muay Thai Guarding – Cognitive Unloading

What’s intriguing is that this three-level guarding system isn’t solely about physical manoeuvres; it’s equally about mindset and efficiency.

By adopting this technique, you’re not only heightening your defence but also alleviating mental strain. It’s about tapping into your potential by striking a balance between alertness and preparedness.

Give it a try. Informed by your relative fighting range, can you seamlessly transition between Green, Yellow, and Red Alerts while maintaining “target lock” on your opponent’s chest? Develop this habit in training, and reap the rewards in your next fight!

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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