Muay Tae fighters (kickers) are some of the most entertaining fighters to watch, in my opinion. A well-executed roundhouse kick thrown by a Thai fighter is one of the most beautiful things to watch.
Kickers require excellent range-finding abilities to keep their opponents right where they want them – on the end of their kicking leg. To achieve this they normally have an extremely efficient teep (push kick) and good control with their hands.
Very often, kickers are more heavily-built than say, a technician, as they aim to do serious damage to the ribs and arms of their opponents. Their attacks are often more predictable than that of a technician, too, as everything they do is aimed at allowing them to throw the roundhouse kick off of their power leg. Their opponents know what’s coming, but they are often unable to defend against the kick due to the kicker’s excellent timing and range-control.
Anyway, let’s take a look at some of the most entertaining kickers – past and present.
5 Powerful Kickers Everyone Should Study
Yod is currently one of the most well-known fighters on the planet. Before leaving Thailand to fight internationally on shows such as K1, Thai Fight, Kunlun Fight, and Lion Fight, Yodsanklai was a three-time Lumpinee champion at two different weights (112lbs and 147lbs) and was a dominant figure in Thailand.
He has a huge frame for a Thai and possesses great power in his trademark left kick. Everyone knows that when they watch Yod fight 80% of his attacking techniques are going to come from his left leg. The thing is, his opponents also know that; but preventing that thick left leg of his from destroying their arm repeatedly are two completely different things.
Yodsanklai has great range-checking abilities with his hands, and is known as the “boxing computer” in the Thai stadiums due to his precision Muay Thai techniques.
Singdam O Aukritt
Perhaps not one of the most well-known fighters from the golden era, Singdam is a hugely entertaining kicker. He had a great energy about him every time he entered the ring and was extremely tough to beat due to his relentless pace and powerful kicking ability.
Singdam wasn’t as technical as some of the fighters in the list, but what he lacked in technical prowess he made up for in heart and determination.
Having beat some of the greatest champions of his era, Singdam never actually won a Lumpinee or Rajadamnern title himself. His victories included Samson Issan, Dokmaipah Por Pongsawang, Silapathai Jocky Gym, Veeraphol Sahaprom, Yodkhunpon Sittraiphum, and also the next man in the list…
Check out Singdam’s superb defensive display against Yodkhunpon Sittraiphum.
Kaensak Sor Ploenchit
Kaensak is a legendary top ten fighter (in my opinion) whose fights were always entertaining. I would class him as primarily a muay Tae (kicker) but he was a very smart fighter, much like a technician and took very little damage in his fights.
He was a very powerful kicker when he attacked but he certainly wasn’t a fighter who was constantly moving forward looking for the kick or putting pressure on his opponent. He would often sit back and wait for the counter.
In my opinion, he is right up there with the best counter-fighters of all time. He is also probably the most well-rounded fighter in the list, and one of the most well-rounded fighters in history, full stop!
Mathee has to be one of my favourite fighters on the list. He was a ferocious fighter with calves the size of tree trunks and was aptly nicknamed “Dragon Leg”.
Like Kaensak, Mathee was an excellent counter-kicker. He was a multiple-time Lumpinee champion but is often overlooked in the “best ever” debate although he has beaten an impressive list of golden era legends including Oley Kiatoneway, Superlek Sorn Esarn, Samkor Kiatmontep, Therkiat Sittepitak, and Sirimongkol Chor Chueachart.
This fight against Pairot Wor Wolapon features some great kicking exchanges.
Next up is a fighter who helped bring muay Thai to the world stage – Buakaw Banchamek. Buakaw’s trademark technique is his left switch kick; it’s fast and it has a lot of weight behind it. He doesn’t move his left leg back a great deal when throwing this technique. Rather, he lifts it up very quickly before touching it down for a split-second and then driving it up towards his opponent. Therefore, it’s very quick and difficult for the defender to stop it slamming into their arm or ribs. He uses this kick very efficiently in defence and attack.
Ironically, it was his performances in K1 kickboxing that grabbed the attention of fight fans worldwide rather than his muay Thai fights in Thailand.
He ended up winning the K1 World Max tournament twice (and basically won a third title, too) and beat a host of non-Thai superstars while fighting in the organisation.
Before switching to professional kickboxing Buakaw was ranked number one at Lumpinee stadium; his teammate Namsaknoi was champion at the time. He also won a Thailand title, the vacant Omnoi stadium title in Bangkok and also took the number one spot in the Toyota Marathon before switching to professional kickboxing.
Many fans claim that Buakaw is the best ever, and others state that he was “nothing” in the world of Muay Thai before his move to K1. Neither of these statements is true.
He can’t really be considered one of the greatest fighters ever due to the fact that he left Thailand and didn’t continue to fight top Thai opposition. This consequently meant that he would never go on to win the Lumpinee title and no fighter could seriously be considered amongst the best fighters of all time without doing so.
Having said that, his achievements in Thailand are certainly not to be sniffed at, and what he achieved outside certainly hasn’t done the sport of Muay Thai any harm either!
Buakaw is a true legend in combat sports, and I don’t think there is any doubt about that.Follow MuayThaiScholar