Develop Your Straight Punch The Muay Thai Way With Seven-Time Champ Aurélien Duarte
It doesn’t matter if you’re new to striking in combat sports or a seasoned veteran—developing and drilling fundamentals is the cornerstone to any successful fighter’s training. Far too often, those with natural talent gloss over the basics once they become intermediate fighters. Sometimes we pick up bad habits that show in our form or in our execution of moves which hinder our overall progress. It’s wise for anyone who trains in pugilistic sports to revisit the basics and make sure we learn how to throw kicks and punches with our full potential.
Whether you’re a boxer, kickboxer, Muay Thai practitioner, or MMA striker, you need to have a powerful, lightning-quick straight punch that causes damage every time it hits your opponent. Seven-time world martial arts champion and Muay Thai coach Aurélien Duarte shares the secrets he learned from training with some of the greatest kickboxers on the planet.
Crawl Before Walking
“Remember, do it slowly and you can do it with power, with efficiency, improving the quality of your move,” Duarte said.
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The coach said to become a quick and powerful striker, you have to practice your movements slow and focus on the fundamentals in order to get proficient. Practicing your straight punches—or any striking movent, for that matter—quickly without having a good grasp of movements required can cause bad habits in your form, reduce your punching power potential, and even cause injuries, said Duarte.
Three Steps To A Better Straight Punch
“In Thailand, I saw the young fighters and the old champions all doing the same routine, focusing on the same things,” Duarte said. “Hundreds of years after [Muay Thai started], it’s still efficient and it’s still working in the ring.”
The way Thai kickboxers build their straight punch power is through throwing crosses at three different distances to focus on three different aspects of the movement—arms, shoulders and legs.
You and a partner wearing punch mitts stand opposite of each other at about shoulder distance apart. Throw your straight punch with your rear arm to your partner’s mitt on the opposite arm (if fighting orthodox, it would be your right arm to their left mitt) using only your biceps and triceps to execute the movement. You should be close enough to your partner to hit their mitt without turning your shoulder or hips too much. Do this drill 10 times.
Now both you and your partner take a step back. You should be far enough away where you are slightly out of reach of your partner’s mitt unless you turn your shoulders and hips into the punch. That’s what you’re working on this time. Duarte instructs that a fighter should twist their torso in such a way that their rear shoulder is now where their front shoulder was before the punch was thrown. Essentially you’re fully twisting your torso when you strike your partner’s mitts. Make sure to engage your abs and glutes with every punch. Do this drill 10 times.
(Note: The coach said to better understand the movement required for this drill, the fighter punching should put their hands behind their back and try throwing punches with their shoulder in a bladed stance at a slow pace. Once you feel comfortable that you’ve got it down, add your rear arm into the mix)
Now, you’re going to work on the leg movement involved with throwing a straight punch. Take one more step back with your partner. At this point, you should be slightly out of striking distance when you throw the punch using your shoulders and hips. To get that extra length, you now need to pivot your rear leg into the punch as you twist your torso. Make sure your heel is raised as your toes still make contact with the floor while pushing off and flex your rear leg muscles, said the coach. Do this drill 10 times.
“You’re going to use your feet to keep you grounded just like when you push a car or push furniture...something heavy, you use your legs. You’re going to do the same thing with the punch,” Duarte said.
After The Drill
Once you’ve completed each component of this drill, Duarte said to square up your stance, let your shoulders hang, relax your arms and breathe in and out. Be aware of the feeling in the muscles you’ve worked and try to focus on those muscle groups when performing the drill in the future, said the coach.
“Feel your muscles, you just did something new,” Duarte said.” Feel it from your fingers to your toes, hips, shoulders, back. Feel all the muscles that are a part of the move.”
Who Is Aurelien Duarte?
Seven-time martial arts champion and Muay Thai/kickboxing coach Aurelien Duarte is a legend in the kickboxing community. The Dakar-born, France-based kickboxer is one of the oldest to compete and win international championships in the sport. Not only did Duarte win kickboxing and Muay Thai titles from 1996 through 2006, but he was also a world champion in Shidokan Karate in 1998. The coach was also the focus of the 52-minute documentary, Planéte Fight where Duarte travels the globe meeting up with other professional martial artists from a wide range of styles.
Learn how to throw your straight punches and jabs like a professional Muay Thai fighter! Check out “Creating Muay Thai Connections with Aurélien Duarte” and other great instructionals available at DynamicStriking.com!