Footwork like a Tiger: The 4 Styles of Muay Thai Movement

Are you ready for Master Toddy’s insights on Muay Thai footwork?

This latest addition of Master Toddy’s Training Tips and Secrets should be read standing up!

When I’m in the corner, 90 percent of my fighters win the fight. That’s because I make sure they use the right kind of footwork to defeat their opponent.

The Tiger and the Footwork

Think of a tiger. When a tiger is hunting a herd of deer, the tiger will march in and see all their movements, read what’s going on first. Then it will start to lower itself down, the feet still moving forward slowly in big steps. When it comes closer, it changes. It starts to straighten up and look at all the animals, to decide which is the weakest one.

The weakest one doesn’t necessarily mean the youngest or the oldest deer. To decide, the tiger walks in… then he senses which one of the group didn’t receive the message that a tiger is approaching – and that is the one that the tiger focuses on!

As soon as the tiger knows which deer, it lowers itself again, but now the tiger will use short steps and keeping the body in the same position, no swaying side to side, no clumsiness. The feet will become very light. They start creeping faster and faster, staying low.

As soon as the tiger reaches the distance in which it feels now I can get you, they will stand up so fast and chase with the full speed to attack and make a successful hunt.

Muay Thai Footwork – Be Like the Tiger

For us in Muay Thai, we have 4 types of movements called Yan Sam Kum, Kum Cheng Kru, Do Sang Kon, and then Fond Long Cheng. These are equivalent to the different stages of the tiger’s hunt.

Footwork 1: Yan Sam Kum. Planning the attack.

This happens when the fighters are apart and you want to move in to a closer distance. You use bigger steps, bigger movements. That is Yan Sam Kum.

Footwork 2: Kum Cheng Kru. Pick your opponent’s weakest spots – their weakest deer.

As you approach, you start moving side to side, mirroring your opponent, to test your opponent and read his weak spots. That is Kum Cheng Kru.

Footwork 3: Do Sang Kon. Move in for the kill.

Now you want to make your opponent move wrong and make a mistake, so you know their speed and power. You fake, you tease, you measure, and you roll side to side to confuse their opponent. If they’re not as experienced as you, they will move wrong, they will move heavy. If they’re experienced, they will lift the knee up and stay cool. That is Do Sang Kon.

Footwork 4: Fond Long Cheng. It’s go time!

Fond Long Cheng means it’s time for kill. As soon as you wound your opponent, it’s the killing time. You don’t let it go. You don’t go back to Yan Sam Kum. Execute a successful hunt.

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So when I’m in the corner, I’ve gotta see which footwork is necessary and when. Straight away just from looking at the opponent’s Ram Muay, or even just from how they walk into the ring, I can immediately read what their style of footwork is going to be like. I can see how heavy their feet are, how they land. If they are heavy when doing certain Ram Muay movements when they should be light on their feet, I pick up on it straight away by looking at the mark or dent their feet leave on the canvas. Then I can instruct my fighter what to do.

Ronnie Green always had the most exciting fight because he only used two styles of footwork – Yan San Kum and then Fond Long Cheng straight away, looking for the knockout. That’s why we always won by knockout.

Mike Tyson the same – walks in very cool, and as soon as he reaches his preferred distance, he doesn’t wait, he’s in full Fond Long Cheng.

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Footwork to me is like the groundwork for a building. Has to be solid, great foundation to make the tall building. I teach people footwork first. Even the 4 different styles that we’ve discussed can be split into different styles. There is a lot to practice and learn. There are about 15-20 different types of steps you can do! Ronnie Green was a dancer before he became a fighter, think about that.

Here you can see him showing off his dance moves and then moving on to knocking out his opponents!

Or watch this fight to see the full effect of what fast feet can do for you.

Great feat of strength? Au contraire! What we need is a great strength of feet!

Each different strike that you want to do needs to be set up with the right kind of footwork. You will set your feet up differently for a left kick, a front kick, for boxing, for kneeing. And the whole time you have to keep moving gracefully, transition from one style to the other without anybody noticing.

Remember, the tiger’s footprint can tell the weight and age of the tiger.

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Written by Master Toddy’s Muay Thai Academy