Muay Thai has proven to be one of the most effective striking styles in mainstream combat sports, leading to its popularity among MMA fans. While there are many different forms of kicking, one has gained particular popularity in the form of the Muay Thai teep.
It is an evolved form of Muay Boran, an unarmed combat style designed for use on the battlefield. That said, there were many changes to make it more sustainable in a sporting environment. Techniques which are extremely destructive were phased out, such as strikes to the joints and back of the head.
To make Muay Thai more easily palatable for the general public, it adopted variations of its techniques to make it more suitable for the rules of combat sports. The Muay Thai teep, however, has preserved its original purpose throughout Muay Thai’s evolution.
In this article, we’ll talk about everything you need to know about the teep.
The Muay Thai teep
Simply put, the Muay Thai teep is a push kick. It is a fundamental move that plays a significant role in disrupting a fighter’s rhythm. While there are numerous powerful strikes in Muay Thai, we can’t overstate the importance of the teep.
Fighters usually use the Muay Thai teep to keep their range and push the opponents back. They usually throw the lead teep (that is, a teep with the lead foot) to keep an opponent at the edge of their range. This subsequently cuts off an advancing opponent and distupts their momentum.
The rear teep, on the other hand, is powerful and perfect for knocking opponents back. Fighters use it to expand the distance between them. Since it’s coming from behind, some fast-witted opponents may dodge out of its range. If done successfully, though, it has the potential to deal a lot of damage or potentially even end a match.
The teep is a very versatile weapon that can also counter most attacks. A masterfully-executed teep can nullify an opponent’s advancements and calm the chaos.
How do you execute an effective Muay Thai teep? Well, before we get into that, let’s talk about what the teep is not.
The Karate front kick
The teep and the front kick may look virtually the same to the untrained eye, but the truth is that they are pretty different. The front kick is also called the snap kick by virtue of how to execute it.
A front kick involves lifting the knee straight forward before throwing the foot in a straight frontal line hinging at the knee. Due to the natural height and angle of the knee when you lift it, the chin and solar plexus are the usual sweet targets. This kick deals the most amount of damage when you hit the target using the ball of your foot.
The snap kick’s success relies on a split-second of contact. Release the leg and retract it as quickly as possible while staying in the same place. This means as soon as the leg is lifted, it’s returned immediately after contact. The Muay Thai teep, on the other hand, may maintain contact for a bit longer as you twist your hips to extend your leg and push the opponent back.
The front kick is also useful as a defensive technique. You can deal a lot of damage to an attacking opponent when you unleash a front kick at the right moment and hit the solar plexus or the chin.
The question then becomes—which is the more useful kick? Well, that would depend. If you’re aiming for a knockout, a front kick can generate enough force to K.O. and opponent. If you’re looking to use a bit of strategy and play with your rhythm, on the other hand, you may find yourself favoring the Muay Thai teep.
How to do a Muay Thai teep
A Muay Thai teep is a formidable weapon—if you know how to use it correctly.
As with any strike involving the legs, you need a good deal of balance and core strength to execute a Muay Thai teep. If are unstable or you don’t have enough core strength, the opponent may remain unmoved while you end up unbalanced. Make sure factor in this in for your Teep training!
1 Straight push kick
The easiest to execute is the straight push kick, which is comparable to the jab in terms of simplicity and objective. Here’s a step-by-step of how to do it:
1. Keep your standing leg at a straight angle as you raise your kicking leg.
2. Lift your knee high in front of you before the kick.
3. The following sequences should happen near-simultaneously:
- If orthodox, pull your right shoulder back and swing your left arm as a counterbalance. (If southpaw, do the opposite.)
- Lean back a bit as you jab your foot forward. Flex your foot, don’t extend.
- Twist your hips to extend your body and add a bit of force as you make contact.
- Keep your chin down and your opposite arm up to guard against possible counters.
4. Firmly revert to the original stance.
You may step forward with the non-kicking foot before you execute the teep if you need to get closer. However, it may forewarn your opponent of your intention to teep and give them an opportunity to slip out of range.
You may find that the angles when you pull back your shoulders are different when executing the lead and rear teep, and that’s absolutely normal. Especially if you’re in an angled stance, the lead teep will widen the angle of your shoulders to almost sideways from the opponent. On the other hand, a rear teep may bring your shoulders closer to square (or facing forward) as you go through the motion.
2 Side push kick
This version of the Muay Thai teep is often used due to its greater range. You execute it when your body is perpendicular to your opponent, so the usual setup is a body kick that you don’t pull back all the way.
Pull your shoulders back as you jab your foot sideways. Your toes will be pointed more diagonally to the side rather than straight up in the case of the straight teep. This form opens up the hip, generating more force and allowing you to stretch the kicking leg further from the base leg.
3 Jumping switch push kick
Now moving on to the advanced teeps, the jumping switch teep is by far the flashiest. It has the potential to generate the most power and impact—but as with any flashy move, it is more complicated to execute.
Jump with your lead knee in front of you. This lead the opponent’s attention to your knee, after which you quickly switch with your rear leg in midair and use that momentum for a strong impact.
The learning curve is greater, but so is the pay off if executed properly.
4 Slapping push kick
The slapping push kick is the most similar to the karate front kick. Rather than pushing your opponent away, this kick is a counter to deter attacks. The power of this kick comes from the slapping motion as the fighter extends his leg at the point where the knees have been lifted as high as possible, facing upwards.
With this teep, you essentially slap your opponent with your foot.
Teep Kicks in Muay Thai vs MMA
Muay Thai teeps are very useful in Muay Thai matches. When watching a Muay Thai match, you see teeps as frequently as jabs in boxing. In MMA, it’s not as liberally executed, but can stiill be pretty handy.
Some may argue that the teep is easy to catch and take down. On the contrary, the teep can be faster and harder to predict than something like a round kick, for example.
That said, every technique has its own set of pros and cons. It’s up to the fighter’s mastery to strategically use the weapons in their arsenal to make a fight turn out in their favor.
The Muay Thai teep can be an invaluable weapon in MMA matches. It is the perfect technique to set up punches and full-powered kicks. It can also disrupt an opponent’s rhythm as it does in Muay Thai, making it frustrating to go up against. And if your opponent gets frustrated in a match—well, why not take the opportunity to dominate?
Muay Thai legends who made good use of the teep
It’s quite ridiculous to think that a fighter would develop a technique just so his opponents don’t get to reach his face, but that is what people say about Samart. Apparently, he had a handsome face that fans would loathe to see damaged. Whichever the reason, he developed his teeps to become a formidable weapon.
While most fighters learn to use the teep as a jab (and rightfully so), Samart’s teeps were in another league of its own. His teeps were so strong that he allegedly would knock opponents out with it.
(Note: This is anecdotal, we were unable to find any video evidence online. )
Samart was quite mediocre as a child, with no natural strength or athleticism. The legendary trainer Yodtong Senanan found his strengths and empowered them, until Samart came to be known as a Master Technician with lightning-quick reflexes and speed. He is arguably the greatest Nak Muay of all time, rising to fame in the 80’s and remaining a prominent figure in Muay Thai even today.
When you talk about Muay Thai, you just can’t not mention Saenchai. Saenchai has become a formidable fighter due to his tricky techniques. He would play around with rhythms, and when you think you’ve got him figured out, he brings out something totally unexpected.
The jumping switch teep is always in Saenchai’s arsenal. Another (more complicated) teep, though, is the fake roundhouse to teep. It’s not something anyone can learn in a day. It requires dexterity to start a roundhouse then pull it in to teep instead.
Since we’re talking about teeps, we also have to talk about Buakaw, who has built his fighting career out of a series of teeps. Buakaw uses his teeps aggressively, moving forward with them. He keeps his opponents as a distance by constantly high five-ing them in the face with his foot.
It’s hard to see a well-executed teep coming, so his teeps keep hitting the target. Buakaw packs a bit of a punch behind his teeps—and even if he didn’t, just being on the receiving end of countless teeps drains your endurance.
Buakaw keeps his opponents as a distance, and when they come close, he gets them even closer with a clinch—which is another strength of his. You just can’t win with this guy!
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