Top Muay Thai Combos: The Not-Popular Combinations

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In Muay Thai, the most popular combinations are the 1-2 and 1-2-3 combos. These are easy to do, they’ve been used in fighting for decades, and they can be a lot of fun! But have you ever tried any of these Muaythai combos?

1. Jab Set-Up

The first combo I want to talk about is the jab set-up. In this example, I am setting up to do a long jab and uppercut combination.

The basic idea is to do a knee and uppercut with your inside straight (the part of your foot closest to you). Then you have enough time to do an inside elbow (side elbow) for good measure.

In action:

This can be done as a low kick, or even as a roundhouse kick. If you are going for a takedown, you can do a 1-2-3, and then a knee.

The main advantage of this combo is that it makes your opponent think about what you are going to do next. Your opponent will either have to try to block the elbow or duck under it.

The reason I like this combo so much is that it’s so deceptive, even if the elbow doesn’t land, your opponent is likely to be surprised…and not in the good way.

You can also do a knee and long jab, but this combo is a lot harder as you have to time your kicks better.

Anyway, if you want some more information and/or videos on how to do this combo, go search “jab set-up” on Youtube.

2. Mixing in KICKS

Another type of Muay Thai combo I like to use is a kick set-up. This can be done as a kick or as a punch!

What makes this combo work so well is that you are setting your opponent up for something, and when they try to defend against it, you hit them with something else.

This combo is especially useful if you’re going for a takedown or clinch. You can attack with an uppercut and knee, and then when they try to defend, you throw a kick or punch.

There is nothing wrong with this combo, but there are a few disadvantages to it. Your opponent will not expect your kicks, so the surprise factor is lessened. Also, your opponent will probably know that he/she can’t block both kicks and punches…so it’s more of a trick than a real combo.

The main advantage of this combo is that it’s much quicker than doing the 1-2-3 combination.

Most people will be expecting a 1-2 or 1-2-3, so they won’t think to block your kicks and punches. It also works pretty well if you’re going for a takedown or clinch because your opponent will have to choose whether it is better to block a kick or punch.

If you want any more information or videos on how to do this, go search “kicks set-up” on Youtube.

3. Throwing Elbows

The next set of combos I like to use are the elbows. Elbows are a great weapon because they are very fast to throw and they don’t take a lot of energy.

1. The first combo is the elbow off of a low kick. You do a low kick, then you throw an elbow over it. This is a pretty basic combo, but it’s also very effective.

The main disadvantages of this combo are that people will be expecting an elbow to come after your big kicks…and there is very little room for a kick or punch follow-up.

In action:

If you want any more information or videos on how to do this, go search “elbow off kick” on Youtube. You will also find that there are a lot of “elbow off kick” combos out there.

2. The second elbow combo I want to talk about is the elbow off of a jab. This is another basic combo that works really well. The main reason it works so well is because of the timing. Your opponent is taken completely by surprise by the elbow, and trying to block it won’t work.

In action:

If you want any more information or videos on how to do this, go search “elbow off jab” on Youtube.

3. The third elbow combo is the elbow after a high kick. In Muay Thai, it’s not uncommon to do a knee and then a high kick on your opponent’s leg.

In action:

This combo is nice because it puts the opponent off-balance, and it works really well if your opponent is expecting a kick and not an elbow. It can also be used as a follow-up on an elbow or uppercut. Getting your opponent to block the elbow or uppercut is the tricky part.

If you want more information or videos on how to do this elbow combo, go search “elbow after kick” on Youtube.

4. The fourth elbow combo is the elbow off of a high knee. This is one of my favorite combos because it works so well and so fast. I like to do a roundhouse kick, then an uppercut, and then end it all with an elbow as they are coming down from the uppercut…but it can also be done the other way around!

In action:

If you want any more information or videos on how to do this, go search “elbow off knee” on Youtube.

5. The fifth elbow combo is the elbow after a left straight. This combo works really well if your opponent is expecting a knee or kick from the left side. It puts him/her off-balance, and the elbow catches them off-guard.

In action:

If you want any more information or videos on how to do this, go search “elbow after left straight” on Youtube.

6. The last elbow combo I want to talk about is the elbow after a low right straight. This is another one of my favorites because it works so well against the head kick (since it’s usually taken by people’s guard).

In action:

If you want any more information or videos on how to do this, go search “elbow after right straight” on Youtube.

I cannot stress how much of an advantage being able to throw elbows gives you over your opponents. There are so many elbow combos that work really well and can be thrown in different situations, so it’s good to learn as many of them as you can.

4. For The Badasses

The elbow combo’s aren’t without their drawbacks. For some people, it’s too hard to use effectively because they can’t control it well enough. Also, they lose a lot of power if the elbow is thrown too high or too low; as long as the elbow ends up right beneath your opponent’s chin/jaw or in line with his nose, you’ll make contact with them.

Now many of these combos are pretty destructive and injure your opponent for a while…and that’s exactly what you want. Sometimes, you’ll injure your opponent so bad, they’ll give up on the fight and call it a day. If this happens, congrats; you’ve just won the fight with your elbow!

“But Iceman,” you say, “I don’t want to put my opponent out for a while or make him/her give up the fight. This is supposed to be FUN! I want to keep fighting them and make them submit!”

Well…I’m glad you asked. There are a few options I like to use:

First, it would help if you could slow down your elbow power a bit. In order for it to be as effective as possible, it needs to reach your opponent’s head before they can react. If your elbow isn’t thrown high enough (and accurate), this will likely not happen.

Second, you could speed up the elbow’s power. Again, if your elbow isn’t thrown high enough (and accurate) it won’t hurt your opponent for a while and they’ll have enough time to do something.

Third is to put your elbow into the crook of your opponent’s jaw or chin. This is something I’ve seen in a lot of fights and it works quite well.

5. Catch a Teep + Spinning Elbow

In several of my previous articles, I’ve talked about the importance of being able to catch high karate strikes and what to do against spin kicks. Here’s an example of a spinning elbow caught with the left hand so that the elbow lands on the front of your opponent’s head.

This is an important concept in Muay Thai that is sometimes missed because people get too excited when they land a good hit. When you see these people they are just backpedaling and throwing elbows. This is the reason why good Muay Thai fighters practice the basic boxing stance in order to set up their punches. They don’t throw a lot of big punches, but if their opponent is an aggressive fighter they will use one punch to set up the rest. By putting up your guard you’re not completely defenseless, you have space between your arms and hands that can be used to cover yourself or throw a shot in response. Just like we’ve all been taught in boxing, the opponent’s best punch will come from the side or from behind. Learn to properly set up your shots (even if it’s just by covering), and you’ll be able to keep your opponent on their toes.

Another thing that can be done with this is the elbow to the face. If you have a good elbow, you can use that hook as an uppercut and then follow through with an elbow strike to their chin. Just like in Muay Thai, you can use the spinning elbow as a setup for a right cross. I recommend practicing both of these to set up the spinning elbow.

This makes you better at boxing/karate and your opponent will be left with no response to the elbow.

6. Roundhouse + Spinning Heel Kick

There are some Muay Thai fighters that like to finish their combination with a spinning heel kick. The most common way is to do a roundhouse kick, then a spinning heel kick. This is mainly done because of the spinning heel kick’s speed and power, and sometimes because of the roundhouse kick’s openings for an elbow strike.

In order to set up your opponent for this follow-up attack, you must have good control over your body and mind. If you’re off-balance or your body’s swept out from under you, it’s going to be hard to get your body back on track to finish the fight with a spinning heel kick.

The spinning heel kick is a tricky technique, but when done correctly it can be devastating. The good thing about this combo is that there’s nothing wrong with it if you miss the second kick. It works the same as if you had missed your first kick, and then you just throw a punch or elbow to finish the combo off. You can’t make a spinning heel kick if you don’t have control of your balance!

7. Jab, Shuffle Knee, Post Out

A lot of people don’t know how to properly set up their punches. The easiest way is to do a jab, then follow it up with a knee or two after the jab. Another common way that I see people do is the post out; you do a jab or a cross to open your opponent up and then they post out to give themselves space again.

To execute this properly, you need to use an inside angle for your jabs and crosses. This is a very important concept in boxing and something that is sometimes overlooked when someone moves from an amateur to a professional level. When you throw an inside angle, you are putting your opponent in a position where he/she doesn’t have much room to move and has to give up space. If it’s done correctly, you can land a few good shots or even a knockout shot depending on what type of punches you’re using.

I want the inside angle for my jabs because when I throw it, it’s a way to keep my opponent from backing up and trying to escape. The outside angle is good because I can follow-up with a jab or cross and cover myself again if my opponent tries to move out of range.

The other way that people set up their punches is by doing a shuffle knee, then moving forward after that. I’ve also seen this done as a combination with a straight punch. This is very risky and if done correctly works well. I won’t talk about it too much, since I don’t do it regularly.

8. Jab – Jab, Cross – Rear Knee

This is great set-ups if you’re tired of throwing jabs all day. If you’re fighting an opponent who isn’t fighting back, they’ll be too tired to do anything by the time you’ve finished your first two jabs. You can then go in with a rear knee for a body lock or ankle pick up.

Using something like the rear knee also helps set up a spinning elbow if you don’t have a good follow-up shot on your jab. It’s also really nice to set up a hand trap on your opponent’s leg and then throw a jab. If you do it right, it can be devastating because your opponent will fall face forward or on their back. If you do this with the hand trap, make sure that you’ve got a good grip before you throw the jab…if not, things won’t go so well for you.

The only major downfall about this is that if people know what you do, they can try to block their body with their arms so you don’t land your knee or elbow. I recommend doing a lot of work on the bag or shadowboxing before you try it in front of others. When people block their body, they’re off-balance and it gives you room to throw a jab or cross, and hopefully a follow-up kick. I also recommend having a friend that you can shadowbox with so you can practice blocking your body.

9. Jab – Lead Teep – Rear Kick

This is really just the same as the previous set-up. What I did was combine it with a roundhouse kick because I love doing them. It’s tough to set up if you don’t have a good angle, but if you do it right this can be devastating.

There are also some people who like to throw their lead teep instead of a rear kick, so they can go in with their right hand which sets them up for an elbow or strike after they’ve thrown the teep. I don’t think it’s as good of an option, but it works for some people.

10. Jab, Cross – Switch Knee – Rear Elbow

This is one of my favorite ways to end a round. The key to this is to do it while keeping my elbows up. If you down your hands, you lose the distance that you have between your arms and hands that are covering yourself from an attack. It also has a way of catching people completely off guard if they don’t expect it from you. I prefer to have my elbow up when I throw this set-up, and it works the same as if I was doing the jab to knee combo.

The only downfall is that some people will block their body with their arm so that you can’t land any of your shots. Sometimes you take a knee or elbow while your opponent takes another leg kick, but in my experience, it’s usually because of this. If this happens try throwing another lead teep or something else.

11. Jab, Rear Uppercut, Lead Hook – Rear Body Kick

If you like to throw rear body kicks, this is what your technique would look like…and it’s really easy to do. I’ve also seen this done with the front body kick, but I don’t think it works as well because the opponent can easily step out of range before you can follow up with anything.

This is an excellent way to take advantage of a jab if you’re tired of throwing one nonstop. Another way to think of it is that you’re making a counter jab with your rear uppercut. If you have a good one, your opponent will fall backward and you can use your hook to attack his/her body or face.

Another thing that can be done while doing this setup is a sidekick to the body. I actually don’t like throwing this one because it’s not as fast as some other kicks and I have a hard time hitting my opponent with it. Another reason why I don’t like it is that it’s really easy for your opponent to block it. My only exception to this is when your opponent has one hand down.

You can also use your left hand to hook while you’re doing a left leg sidekick to the body. This is really effective if your opponent tries to duck away from your body kick and you can knock him/her over for a nice KO.

To properly set up the sidekick, you want to stand in front of your opponent with your left leg out. This is really hard to do due to the angle that most people have their bodies. If they have a tighter stance or if they do it with both hands on their hips, you can work on getting closer to them. Make sure that you don’t step too far, however! You want to make sure that you have the proper distance between the two of you, even if that means you aren’t as close as you would like to be.

When you’re practicing this setup, it helps to have a strong lead hook. If your hook is really good, you’ll be able to take advantage of your opponent when they are trying to do something else.

The key to this combo is to have a really good rear uppercut and to be able to throw it quickly. If you’re tired of doing jabs all day, try this out for yourself.

Another thing that you can do is use your rear elbow or rear knee instead of your hook. I only recommend it if you’ve got a really good rear elbow or knee.

The other downfall for this combo is that it can be easily blocked if you don’t have enough room to finish the combo. Make sure that you’re not in too close when you start, and make sure that your opponent doesn’t step back.

12. Jab, Cross, Liver shot – Rear Head Kick

I’m just going to say at this point that there are a million places on the internet where you can find ways to set up this combo. I tried to keep it short and sweet, but I also didn’t want people walking away upset at how simple the combo is. What I’m trying to say is that if heavy hitting combos aren’t your thing, then this one isn’t for you!

The key is to throw the cross while keeping your elbows up and then take a hook after the cross. Your opponent will go down and hopefully you can land a head kick if he/she is still in range.

If your opponent steps back, you can throw another jab to keep him/her in place. If they try to counter with another punch, you’re already set up with your cross and it’ll be much easier for you to take advantage of the opening.

This is a really devastating combo if you can land it. The toughest part about it is keeping your opponent in range for you when he/she starts to back up. This means that you need to control their balance by staying close.

Another downfall is that people will try to counter the liver shot with a jab or even two punches before they move. I think that this combo would work well against people who like to move their hands more than their feet. If that’s the case, you’re set.

13. Jab – Cross – Lead Knee – Clinch

This is a great way to set up a knee in the clinch. If your opponent decides to slip your first two punches, you can throw the knee after the cross. It’s also a great way to make sure that your opponent stays close enough for you to attack him/her after this.

I don’t really use this one as much anymore because of how popular clinches are in Thailand right now. Most people will try to hit you with knees in the clinch (especially if you’re a foreigner) and it gives them room to move away from your strikes. If someone does this, take advantage of it by throwing inside or outside loops and make sure that it’s loose enough so that your opponent can’t grab on to you.

The only downfall for this combo is that your opponent can easily leave when they see the knee coming. The key is to make sure that they’re in range for it.

FAQs

What are the best fighting combos?

I’m sorry if this is one of those questions that people always ask…but I really don’t have a good answer for it. First of all, most fighting combos are made up on the spot. Very rarely do they ever follow a specific line from beginning to end. I know that’s kind of confusing, but think about it in terms of baseball. When you go up to bat, what’s the point of having a plan? You can think about it for a second, but if you know what kind of pitches that you’ll face, it doesn’t make much sense. Another thing is that most people don’t do combos because they’re scared. I like to keep things simple and I really don’t use a lot of combinations (in fact, most people don’t!). The other reasons why I don’t like combos is because of the self-restraint that they take.

Is boxing and Muay Thai a good combination?

That’s a tough question to answer, but I’ll try to explain it the best that I can. The short answer is yes, because most people in Thailand do both. The long answer is that because boxing helps you with your distance control, it usually doesn’t help you if you’re taking a lot of kicks in Muay Thai. It does help you with your punching and power though.

What is a combo in a fight?

I don’t really think that I have to explain this…I just don’t want people walking away thinking that I’m trying to start a fight. A combo in a fight is when you throw two or more punches and you’re finished with what you were doing before. If your opponent recovers after the combo, you can either start another combo or continue the last one and throw a kick or knee. Basically, if someone throws a punch, you can immediately respond with another punch and continue throwing combinations until he/she falls.

Do Muay Thai fighters slip punches?

I think that this is a good question because it shows that you’re trying to learn. I’m going to give you a few different answers for this…and I’m going to try to explain what I do in the best possible way.

What I do is that when someone throws a punch, I’ll usually slip it and throw one of my own punches at the same time.

Does Muay Thai use head movement?

This is a good question, and I know that there are more people who are going to ask me this. If you really want to know the answer, it depends on who you’re talking to. Sure, you can say that I use head movement for my jab when I throw it, but for the most part, I don’t use head movement in boxing because of the distance.

How hard is a Muay Thai kick?

This is a tough question to answer because it kind of depends on how strong you are. If your legs are really strong, then the kicks will hurt more. That’s just my opinion, but I think that if you’re looking for a good combination the hard kicks will hurt more than anything else. That’s what I like to do when I’m fighting anyways…

Do Muay Thai fighters lift weights?

Again, this is a question that I don’t know if I can answer. I know that most people do lift weights though, but it’s also important to remember that the Muay Thai style of fighting is a lot about using your own body weight in your strikes. Most boxers don’t lift weights because they’re constantly trying to get away from their opponent.

How do you counter a kick to the head?

My answer is that I counter the kick with a knee. I don’t know why this is, but it’s something that I’ve always done. This is the best way that I know to counter this.

Finally, you know the saying “Practice Makes Perfect”.

Practice Makes Perfect

It’s really important to practice a lot of different combos when you’re trying to master your striking. Some of them are going to work really well for you, and some of them are just not going to work at all. Don’t be afraid to throw different punches, kicks, knees and elbows at the same time…even though they don’t fit together. You can also try throwing punches in the middle of your kicks…and vice versa.

Final Words – Combos Effective in Muay Thai Fights?

Now for the disclaimer: I’m not “technically” a Muay Thai fighter myself, so don’t get confused by what I say here…I just want to share some of my knowledge and experiences. I’m a web designer, so I’ve done things in Photoshop, not Muay Thai. But hey, learning something new never hurt anybody…so learn at least one technique from this article and let me know how you do!