Not so close, please! (1)

The martial arts of kick-boxing and Muay Thai (Thai boxing) both allow punching and kicking. Fighters can also use the knees although the exact rules vary between the codes. Thai boxers are trained to strike with their elbows and throw their opponents on the deck in clinch but both techniques are banned in Western style kick-boxing. Kicks are typically delivered at range, punches from close-up and knees to the ribs in clinch.

The way the above two martial arts evolved kick-boxers tend to be good punchers and Thai boxers usually rely on kicks and knees. Each fighter tries to keep the distance at which his favoured techniques are most effective – Thai boxers will kick and then go to clinch, kick-boxers will try to throw punches at mid-range. The result of the fight will often hinge on which competitor manages to stay at an optimal range to maximise his/her advantages.

The 2004 finals of the K-1 World MAX tournament was held in the kick-boxing crazy Japan. The local hero – Masato Kobayashi – was heavily favoured to win. In the title fight he faced a little known opponent from Thailand, Buakaw Pramuk. Buakaw had had mixed fortunes in his home country where he never won any national titles and this was his first attempt to make a name for himself on the World stage.

When watching the linked video clip of the 2004 title fight bear in mind that Masato, trained as a kick-boxer, was at his best punching at mid-range, whereas Buakaw’s strengths were in kicking and kneeing.

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Well, Buakaw absolutely destroyed Masato by doing what Thai boxers do best – roundhouse kicks and knees to the ribs in clinch. He nullified Masato’s superior punching skills by going straight to clinch after each sequence of kicks. The fight was so one sided it is a travesty the judges sent it to the fourth, deciding round. In fact after the fight Masato ended up in hospital with broken ribs and coughing blood.

After the drubbing he took at the hands (legs and knees, actually) of Buakaw you would not expect Masato to look forward to a re-match? Stay tuned…

 

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