Muay Thai Masterclass with Jean Charles Skarbowsky
In Thailand stadiums are filled with thousands of people to watch fighting. For Thai’s the stadium is a way of life, whether you are a spectator or a fighter these arenas are more like churches then sports centers.
Muay Thai is Thailand's National Sport and it is brutal. Often called the art of eight limbs referring to hands, elbows, knees and shins all being legal to use as weapons.
The common stance for Thai Fighters will involve a light front leg to check incoming kicks and to plant for power to throw kicks of their own. Traditionally the palms can be turned out to block incoming shots and to grab a Thai Plumb.
The Plumb is a clinch where the head is pulled down by the hands and the forearms are used as levers against the defending fighters chest. This opens a fighter up to brutal punishment like knees and elbows. As an added bonus the fighter has to carry the weight of the attacking fighters upper body leading to quicker fatigue.
The Thai Plumb is also used as a takedown mechanizm. Throwing the opponent’s weight to one side and sweeping the weight bearing leg at the ankle will cause a takedown and garner them more points. The act of picking yourself up off the floor will also bring a toll on conditioning if a fighter has to do enough of it.
So how do you get out of the Thai Plumb and prevent that damage from being done? First let us take into account the most common attack from the Plumb. The jumping knee. Fighters will use the momentum of the jump power up a knee strike.
Any time a fighter loses their connection to the ground on purpose or otherwise they have no roots. A tree with no roots is easily fallen, so that is exactly what needs to happen.
Below multiple time European Champion Jean Charles Skarbowsky will show you how to defend against the strong attack. As Mike Ditka said “A great defense is a good offense.”
A quick note is to pay attention to how Jean Charles sets up his counter clinch. One hand on the neck and the other on the elbow holding his neck. This provides him with a lever to pull and push with while in the Thai Plumb. This also acts as a guard for his had and shield from incoming elbows!
The amount of effort it takes to employ this defense is minimal, and the movement is not extreme, it is a little sweet to the ankle and the arms just counterweight the attacker's body. Super simple.
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Here is another quick passive defense that is also fundamentally Thai in origin. Often to create a stronger more explosive knee that closes distance a fighter will do a switch step. Essentially moving the back leg forward and the forward leg back, then they drive the back knee in a lunging motion torwars the solar plexus.
If this lands it both scores well and hurts bad. So why not just move out of the way. Below Jean Charles shows his method of avoiding this strong attack. He steps laterally with his front foot. On the opposite side of the knee that is being thrown. As that foot lands he circles around and will have let the attacker fly right by. Using their own movement against them. This provides a split second where they will be open to a counter attack. Check it out Below!
These defensive options are as fundamental as you can get. idea behind Thai defense is essentially to be loose and passive, using as little effort as possible to deflect incoming blows. This leaves plenty of gas for your attacks which if don't in a fundamentally Thai way, will be explosive and fast.
Jean Charles Skarbowsky is an amazing teacher. He is respected amongst fighters all over the world. During his prime his was one of the most feared “Farangs” to ever step into a stadium. A “Farang” is Thai for Frankish descent or European fighter. He has won 75 of his 101 fights and has three draws. That is not a bad record at all.
One of the greatest MMA Fighters of all time George St. Pierre used Jean Charles as his Muay Thai Coach for many years. When he was coach on the Ultimate fighter GSP brought in Jean Charles as a coach. He warned the fighters to show respect or get taught a lesson. The great John Danaher who is GSP Head Coach stated “This could both be the best or the worst training session of your life”
John was not wrong, Jean Charles put no effort into decimating all of the pro fighters who stepped in front of him.
Jean has taken the time to break down Muay Thai into a two distinct skill sets. The first is obviously the fundamentals of Muay Thai. In order to have great striking you must have a strong base. A fighter must grow strong roots before they can move onto more advanced concepts.
As a fighter gets more conditioned and faces more stiff opposition, they will need a larger arsenal of attacks and counters. Being no stranger to stiff competition Jean Charles second Skill set is that for the Intermediate fighter.
With this set Jean Charles will take the fundamentals to a whole new level.This becomes a deep dive into Muay Thai and Jean Charles pulls back the veil on the more advanced techniques used by stadium Champions. Check out the Intermediate instructional set here!
Jean uses traditional terminology when teaching and in total both instructionals create a 8 part instructional set. They can be purchased together or individually based on skill level. Try it out and take your striking to the next level!