Dodge The Knee With Jean Charles Skarbowsky
Knee strikes are very dangerous to land, in the sense that all it takes is one to drop your opponent. Knees can also break ribs and damage organs and if brought up to the head can damage the skull and easily cause a knockout. While all this power is nice, knees are a pretty close range strike, even the longest knee possible is still at best a shorter mid range strike. This is why the vast majority of knees are thrown either from some form of the clinch or with some level of control like a grabbed wrist or a frame.
Since most knees are from the clinch, their power is usually greatly diminished as there isn’t as much range of motion to generate power from. There are also many ways to block against these kinds of strikes. What is very dangerous is the few knees that are thrown from the outside, as these generally have a larger range of motion and will have more of your body weight in the strike. This is because if you are throwing a knee from the outside, because knees are such close range strikes, you will likely have to throw yourself forward a bit for it to land.
This makes the strike really powerful and it can drop someone if it lands but it unfortunately will act as a telegraph that someone can see coming. This is where if you have an opponent throwing a knee from range, including jumping knees and flying knees, you can defend yourself and move out of the way, so you don’t end up on anyone’s highlight reel.
In this video, former rajadamnern champion and one of the greatest farang (non-Thai) Muay Thai fighters in the world, Jean-Charles Skarbowsky shows how to dodge knees from the outside and set up counters off of that defensive movement.
The defense itself is very simple. The version of the technique that Skarbowsky shows is how an orthodox fighter would defend against another orthodox fighter’s switch knee, which due to the switch gives you ever more time to see the attack coming and react. When you see your opponent going for their knee, pivot to the outside while framing with your lead hand on the corresponding shoulder of your opponent. If you want to create additional distance between you and your opponent you can push off of them to make it. Keep in mind that doing this pivot to the outside works on your opponent's rear knee as well but it is dangerous as you are pivoting in the direction that their strike is going, so be careful.
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From there you should be to the side of your opponent and you can disengage if you choose to but the new angle that you are at is the perfect opportunity to counter attack. You can choose to throw a roundhouse kick like Skarbowsky does in the video, which will be a good option, especially to the head as their hands will have likely dropped while throwing the knee. If kicks aren’t your thing, you can go with a rear straight or a knee of your own if you are close enough. Keep in mind that if you are an orthodox fighter going to the outside of your opponent’s knee, no matter which one it is, you will end up close to their liver. This means that their liver is open to you and you have a perfect opportunity to land a liver shot, which could end the fight right there.
If you want to learn more striking techniques and tips like this one from Jean Charles Skarbowsky, then check out any of our multiple complete video series featuring him available now.