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Yok Khao Guard compared

My second article now for this time about the Yok Khao Guard (raised knee guard).

Head on over to Nopstar's blog for all the latest on Muay Thai.


Muay Chaiya: Key fundamentals

Muay Thai Chaiya is an old style of Muay Thai, with its roots based on the battlefields of ancient Thailand.

An effective form of self defense, Muay Chaiya is a full martial art with a level of detail not to be found in the popular modern Muay Thai sport. Often described as the ‘Turian Style’ after the prickly fruit, due to the emphasis on blocking with the elbows and knees, Muay Chaiya concentrates on damaging the opponents weapons (arms legs etc) whilst blocking.

Muay Chaiya is taught differently from modern muay thai, with more emphasis on technique and form instead of the concentration on pure body conditioning (although this is important for any serious fighters). The classes include challenging exercises that help the student practice key movements that are used within the style.

Muay Chaiya can be learnt by people of all ages, both men and women, for exercise, self-defense and competitive fighting.

It is a striking style, therefore most of the moves involve strikes from various weapons of the body. These include:
  • Fists
  • Elbows
  • Knees
  • Shin/Feet

These are the same weapons that can be found in many martial arts, and similarly, Muay Chaiya has a underlying systems that trains the practitioner to have a strong foundation of techniques. These foundations are devised to ensure that a Muay Chaiya fighter protects himself at all times, whilst dealing maximum damage to their opponent, ultimately finishing a fight as quickly and 'safely' as possible. Another important point is that Muay Chaiya doesn't favour a side, and all moves are trained on the left and right stance equally.

These foundations include:

Tha Kru

The Tha Kru is the standard guard of Muay Chaiya. All style of Muay Thai havea Tha Kru, and you can easily identify the style being used simply by looking at the guard being employed. The Muay Chaiya guard is primarily used to guard the face, covering it at all times, but with both arms angled at 45°, the elbows are exposed and readily available to block incomming attacks. Most techniques in Muay Chaiya start from the Tha Kru, ensuring that there is minimal telegraphing ('show' or 'tell') of moves.

Phan Mut

This fundamental technique plays a vital role in both the Muay Chaiya defense and in the mechanics of more advanced moves. Phan Mut literally means 'Pass fist' and primarily employed when changing guard (e.g. from right to left), but is also used to parry incoming attacks. A fundamental technique, it is practiced throughout training, including most of the Borihaan Feug Rang-gai (10 moves to train power).

Yang Sam Khum

The cornerstone technique of Muay Chaiya the Step of the Three Treasures, teaches many of the main aspects of Muay Chaiya defense including:

  • Footwork
  • Posture
  • Yok Khao (rising knee)
  • Tha Kru (Guard)
  • Phan Mut

Used constantly in training, it is a technique that must be mastered, missing the details of this technique leads to bad form and bad habits. Taught in stages (feet first then hands) there are several variations including the long step and the hop step.

Prik Liam

Something like a cross better Wing Chun's body swivel and boxing's rotation from the feet, Prik Liam is essential for getting maximum speed and power for all of the Chaiya hand techniques, attack and defense alike. Muay Chaiya is effective for people of all body types, and Prik Liam enables power and speed to be developed from the use of good technique and not just size and strength, by using the weight of the body as a driving force behind both attack and defense.

The four Baw Blaa's of Muay Chaiya

Baw Blaa is the Thai character (blaa means fish) and is the first character of the 4 main techniques for defense in Muay Chaiya:

  1. Bong - Guard
  2. Bat - Slap/swat
  3. Bit - Close
  4. Beurt - Open

These techniques are used throughout training, and can often be seen being utilised in the training Bat Malang Waan (swatting flies) and Dop Hoo (slapping ears), which train students in correct timing and distancing so that they can guard themselves from a wide variety of attacks.


New website for Baan Chang Thai -

Great news, Kru Lek's (Baan Chang Thai) new website is pretty much finished (there's a few links that are still not working) so get on over and check it out at

The bad news, it's only in Thai so I'm afraid for most of you it won't make a lot of sense. I'm finishing up a few things of my own, and then I'll be translating it into english, so stay tuned.

But for now, there are plenty of pictures and a few videos to check out.

For pictures of Muay Chaiya follow this link.

For the videos, follow this link and then scroll to the bottom of the page. There's four videos:

  1. Montage of Tae Chaiya in training (see if you can spot me in there)
  2. A video of one of the choreographed sequences that Kru Aof and K.Tae perform (Muay Chaiya vs Knife).
  3. A video of Baan Chang Thai's recent visit to Spain, showing them teaching some of the Chaiya Look Mai to some spectators
  4. Footage of k.Tae and Kru Aof demonstrating some Muay Chaiya combinations if the kick pads
There's lots of information on this site, but for now, you'll have to get a Thai friend to translate for you. I'll let you know when it's available in English.

As a side note, check out the video on the home page. This features footage of Kru Lek and Tae Chaiya 'playing' at a recent visit they made to Spain. They playing the Dopp Hoo game (slap ears) which is one of the basic training methods that we use for reactions and timing. I spoke to Ajarn Lek shortly after they got back from Spain, and he told me that his body was soar all over. After seeing this footage, I can understand why!

The dopp hoo game is fun, but if you play it hard and fast, then it can really hurt... not the person blocking, but the person hitting! K.Tae is very good at this, and when you go full force, you will come away with your forearms fully bruised, and your thighs smarting (trust me I know). But it's all good fun, and a great way of training.