The hook is one of the most commonly used striking techniques in many forms of martial arts, including Muay Thai. While its basic techniques are generally the same for most of the combat arts, some of them do have slight variations on how to throw it.
In this article, we will be covering everything you need to know about hook punches in Muay Thai, including the types of hooks in Muay Thai and how to throw them effectively.
What is Hook in Muay Thai?
In general, a hook is a punch that is performed by turning the core muscle and back to swing the arm, which is bent at an angle near or at 90 degrees, in a horizontal arc into the opponent. A hook is usually aimed at the jaw, but it can also be used for body shots, specifically to the liver.
In comparison with Western Boxing, hooks in Muay Thai are performed differently. Muay Thai hook requires less emphasis on pivoting the foot, and no elevation change of the body to generate force into the hook.
Types of Muay Thai Hook
1. Lead & Rear Hook
Hooks from the rear and lead hand are circular punches thrown from the side and ‘hooking’ in toward the target. Circular punches are a perfect technique to use to get around your opponent's guard when they cover up to protect from straight attacks.
This hook is executed with either the palm facing down or facing toward you. The most important thing is your elbow and fist need to be in a straight line and parallel with the floor in order to drive through the target with maximum effect.
2. Hook to the Body (Shovel Hook)
Shovel hooks or hooks to the body, especially to the liver, are commonly used in Muay Thai to wear down your opponent as well as to set up the next attack to the opponent’s head.
Varying attacks to the body and the head will help to keep your opponent guessing and off balance while also forcing them to switch between defending high and low to set up your power shots.
How to Land An Effective Hook
1. Start with a good base
Your base is the foundation on which you build a good punching technique. A good base consists of you standing in a basic Muay Thai stance, and standing in a neutral position.
Both arms should be up and in a defensive position. This will help you deflect any attacks against you. Always remember to keep your elbows tucked in, and try to relax.
2. Find your range
It is also important to ensure that you are within the range of your opponent before you attempt to throw your hook. Make sure you can contact your target with something like a jab or a cross before throwing your hook.
One of the easiest striking combinations to throw before you throw a hook is the left jab, right cross, and then the left hook.
3. Set up your hook
You can throw a lead hook every now and then, and also a check hook to counter. However, setting up your hooks is still the best way to go when unleashing this technique.
The hook punch is a very versatile striking technique that can be thrown behind many other punches such as jabs, crosses, and uppercuts. The key to throwing the hook is to first create an opening. Because hooks do so much damage, landing the punch cleanly is crucial to its success.
4. Throw your hook to the target
After you successfully set up your hook, you can start to throw your hook punch.
The mechanics of hook punch start with your lower body, not your arm. To throw an effective hook, bend your knees slightly and transfer your weight to the lead foot. Rotate your right shoulder clockwise, whilst simultaneously dipping your left shoulder and left arm slightly.
These motions will help you ‘wind up’ the punch and will give it power and speed. You should try to execute these moves with as little movement and as quickly as possible.
Now you can hook your arm. Your left arm should be locked at an angle of around 90 degrees and should also be parallel with the floor. Your elbows should be up too.
Make sure your wrist is straight otherwise you run the risk of hurting yourself. As the rest of your body rotates, your arm should follow in a horizontal plane. Lastly, always remember to breathe when throwing your hook. It’s always best to exhale just before your punch hits your target.
5. Return to your guard
Once you’ve hit your target, bring your arm back right away.
Always come back to your guard. That means hands up and on either side of your face, protecting your chin and upper body. Just because you’ve thrown a powerful hook doesn’t mean your opponent can’t quickly get back to you with counterattack moves. So, you need to get into the habit of always returning to your guard once you finish a move.
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