Muay Thai: Throws and Takedowns

In the sport of Muay Thai, you do not often see a competitor throw his opponent to the canvas during a bout. This is because in most cases, takedowns and throws are not legal in Muay Thai.

There are however, situations where you can legally perform a takedown or throw in the ring, and I will outline below the basic takedowns and throws taught by SuriyaSak Muay Thai.


In Muay Thai, takedowns are typically sweeps. There are many different ways to get a sweep on your opponent, but there is one important thing to keep in mind: You may not perform a sweep or takedown by throwing the opponent over any part of your body.

What this means is that hooking-style sweeps and hip throws are not to be used. If you "sweep" someones leg, it must be done using a roundhouse style kick.

That being said, the most common takedown in Muay Thai is after catching an opponents roundhouse kick, you kick thier support leg out from under them.

This can also be accomplished by kicking their support leg out from under them without catching their support leg. This requires excellent timing, but as start to kick, you will kick to the inside of their support leg at the same time, taking them off of their feet.

Another takedown which I don't see used often enough is the push kick. Unfortunately, the push kick is rarely utilized to its fullest benefit in the ring. Someone who masters the push kick can easily knock an opponent off of their feet with a well-timed kick to their opponents hip. The most opportune time is when your opponent begins a roundhouse kick, push kick him in the hip on the same side he is kicking from. Done correctly, your opponent is going down. Their is a Thai phrase to describe the body motion made by the falling boxer, which describes the motion made by a fisherman casting his nets. The falling fighter spins in a very similar fashion.


This next takedown is rare (I've only seen it once), and may have been a fluke, but I once saw Rambah step in close and knee his opponents thigh without clinching. His opponents leg went out from under him and he dropped like a sack or wet rice.


As mentioned, throwing an opponent over any part of your body (ala Judo) is illegal in Thai boxing. There are two basic throws we teach in my gym.

When clinching, I have mentioned how you turn your opponent like a steering wheel to take him off-balance to counter his knee strikes. Well, take this same technique a step further and take him to the ground. Performed correctly, your opponent can actually go down performing a cartwheel.

With all due respect, the best example I can think of is when Kit Songrit fought Rick "the Jet" Roufous. For those of you who are familiar with the match and have seen the tape, Kit Songrit spun Rick to the ground midway through the 3rd round (I think it was that round) and lost 3 points for a major foul (there was apparantly a HUGE language barrier problem and Kit Songrit and his corner were unclear on the rules of the match. At least, that's their official version of the story). However, you could not ask to see that throw peformed with more precision than that. A textbook-perfect throw. When a throw is performed in the Muay Thai ring, this is the most typical one seen.

The atypical throw seen in Muay Thai is the Belly-to-Belly Suplex. OK, it isn't really that, but we refer to it that way b/c it is a belly-to-belly throw. When you are clinched with your opponent, you grab him around the torso and hug him tight, then lift and throw him sideways. The beginning of the throw is identical to a true suplex, but rather than throw yourself with your opponent to the ground, you release. The object is to break the clinch and get your opponent off of you. Your opponent will not always fall to the ground due to this throw, but you do get him or her off of you.

Well, that's essentially it. Their are subtle variations of course which I don't believe we need to discuss. You all get the idea, I believe.

Questions and comments appreciated, as always...

Khun Kao Charuad; SuriyaSak Muay Thai

I am red-eyed and delirious so no questions or comments at the moment...just a TTT

Holy.... geez Khun Kao,


(to the archive)

sorry haven't been online much lately

must've been brain dead first time around when you posted this (steering wheel). from your description, it sounds like aikido has this move too (forgot name) and i first saw this throw from indonesian silat specifically bukti negara (pendekar paul dethouars). it's called puter kepala aka head turn throw.

if i read right, it's the same.

Ive done the steering wheel thingy after grabbing
an atempted knee strike. lift the knee and pull
down/rotate the head.

We also did one where you reach across the back of
your opponents neck and grab his opposite shoulder
from behind. then you press your knee into the side of his knee buckling it and spin him at the same time.
this was the most common throw at our school, and
seems very effective.

>>...steering wheel). from your description, it sounds like aikido has this move too (forgot name) and i first saw this throw from indonesian silat specifically bukti negara (pendekar paul dethouars). it's called puter kepala aka head turn throw. if i read right, it's the same.<

Actually Kev, it's a push/pull on a vertical plane. The horizontal push/pull comes from you stepping back and rotating your body.

You pull your opponents head/neck down towards your hip, while you lift/push on his shoulder/arm/etc.

You step back with one leg and rotate while doing this.

Khun Kao