Set ’em Up
Written By: Bob “The General” Perez
Striking as a whole seems relatively simple at the surface; you punch, kick, knee, elbow, defend, etc. However, one of the key components to effective striking is the ability to layer these techniques. The result of this layering is a thing of beauty, and it all begins with the set up.
The intent of this topic is to help anyone who wishes to add more tools to their toolbox. Although these techniques are beneficial to fighters of all levels, the target reader is the fighter who is relatively new to striking.
Why It’s Important
We have all heard fight commentators make mention of a fighter having difficulty landing a certain strike due to the absence of the set up. For example, a fighter may be out of range and is not cleanly landing the leg kick, or perhaps the right cross is just missing its target. Simply using the jab to set up either follow up attack may have remedied the situation.
Agreed. Yet, more often than not, fighters (my guys included) tend to throw certain strikes without the set up that could have made a tremendous difference in the direction of the fight. Although the set up strike can yield damage, the primary purpose of the set up is to open a pathway to a more devastating attack. The following are some set ups that may assist you in your development as a fighter.
For generations the ole 1,2 has been passed down from father to son as the cornerstone of striking and deservedly so as it can be extremely effective. However, the jab can be equally effective to set up a multitude of other follow up strikes.
Here are a few to try.
1. Use the jab as a gauge in finding your range for the outside leg kick. Full extension of the jab, whether thrown hard or not, should put you in very good position to land the kick with the shin, NOT the foot.
2. Use your jab as a tool to read your opponents reaction. If your opponent uses over exaggerated side-to-side movements to slip, you can use the jab as a set up to the head kick. Many times an opponent that is not yet comfortable striking will react to a punch by dropping the head downward. If you notice this, feint the jab then follow up with a strong side uppercut or unreinforced knee.
3. Building on the topic of head movement. If you like to clinch/knee, use your jab as a set up to gain entry to the inside. Using full extension in the delivery of the jab you can take advantage of your opponents slip by utilizing the gooseneck after the punch misses. Follow this with a switch knee, gain full plum position and then build from there.
The Inside Leg Kick
I see fighters use this all of the time, but usually as a feeler kick. Although there is absolutely nothing wrong with that, try using the inside leg kick as a set up as that is the true purpose of the kick.
From punching range the inside leg kick is a distraction to set up close range hand combinations. It will keep your opponent guessing.
From kicking range, use a switch or step to close the distance, then deliver the kick to the inside thigh. If landed properly I guarantee this will open up your opponents’ stance. Once opened, he should be squared-up and susceptible to the right cross, left hook, etc.
The teep can obviously be used as a great defensive weapon, but it is also a tremendous offensive attack that should be utilized more often in as such.
Use your lead teep to set up the cross, or as a set up for the round kick. Both have a better chance of landing if set up first.
The teep is also incredible effective at putting your opponent on the ropes (or fence) when near them. At that point you can choose your next attack accordingly.
To close, we can all improve and be more methodical and cerebral in our striking (and yes, I do realize that sometimes you just have to throw down). All of the fore mentioned set-ups are simple, yet effective; and more importantly they are battle tested. Please give these a try, and if done properly, I promise they will help you improve your striking.
I would also like to point out that these techniques can be used by (and when facing) both traditional and south-paw fighters. That said, they are most effective when used by (and when facing) fighters with a traditional stance.
I find true happiness helping others gain skill and knowledge (of course, the recipient must be positive and open-minded), so if you have questions about these techniques or want to learn some more set-ups, feel free to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Train hard and enjoy your Thanksgiving.
NOTE: You can train with Bob and several other local Muay Thai/striking coaches at the upcoming Houston Area Muay Thai Seminar on Dec. 3. Click Here for Details.