I was talking to one of the boxers at the gym the other day, and he mentioned how he would like the Muay Thai guys to incorporate more head movement in their sparing. He noted that there isn't a lot of head movement when they spar, and they could benefit from learning some. I agreed that learning boxing head movement is an excellent idea, but it wouldn't be incorporated as much as he would want.
Why? Asks the boxing guy. It keeps you from getting your head punched off.
Well, I said, lets get in to the ring and I'll show you...
Boxers love head movement. It is one of their primary defensive movements. It makes the head hard to hit, as well as setting up body position for power punches. Check out some head movement training:
You should notice something very important. While his upper body moves very well, his lower body remains stationary. Since the boxer does not have to deal with kicks to his legs, he has no worries about keeping a strong base with his legs while moving his head around.
When a boxer meets a Muay Thai practitioner in the ring, what happens? The boxer does what boxers do in their contests, attempts to set the jab and establish his movement. The Muay Thai practitioner does what they do in their contests, attempts to establish distance and land low kicks to establish determine the opponent's base.
After the first exchange, the Muay Thai practitioner sees that the boxer has no intention of checking kicks, so the power kicks start to drop. The boxer is confused and tries to establish the jab, leading to more weight put on the front leg, making the low kicks that much more devastating. The Muay Thai practitioner now uses the teep to establish distance, and can use head kicks as the boxer is now dropping their hands to block low kicks.
My boxer buddy didn't really think that this would happen, so I, again, got the pleasure of introducing another boxer to the low kick and the teep. One thing though... Boxers are tough. If they have stuck with boxing, they can take punishment. You have to make sure that your kicks are placed correctly and that you are moving to the side when you kick. If you don't, the boxer will launch a right hand counter that will put you on your ass.
The lesson from this? Not that MT is better than boxing. But that you need to use the correct defense in the correct situation. Put those MT fighters in a boxing bout with the very same opponents, and I guarantee a different outcome. My boxing buddy simply toys with me when I am just using my hands. My stance is way to upright, and I have very little body movement. However, if my boxing buddy learned to check kicks, and to move correctly in the MT ring, I have no doubts that he would be dominant.
Feel your opponent out first keep your defense ready so that you can take advantage of his weaknesses. If you go in with the simple mindset that "this" is the way to fight, you will be beaten sooner rather than later.