I imagine that most of my audience knows the name “Saenchai” by now. But for those that don’t, let me introduce you to the man they call the pound-for-pound best in Muay Thai history.
The main contender for that title is Samart Payakaroon, Thailand’s beloved superstar of the Golden Era. It’s true that in the past, I have appreciated Samart’s style more than Saenchai’s, with his capture of the WBC boxing world title putting me over the edge on Payakaroon. Now, however, it’s nearly impossible for me to pick.
In the last few years, Saenchai is virtually 100-1 against international opponents. His only loss to non-Thai opponents in Muay Thai is a controversial one. He is riding a 40-fight win streak. For the last 3 decades, he has fought the top competition and stayed planted firmly at the top. He has won all of the prestigious awards there are to win in Muay Thai.
Who else is in a better position to elevate this beautiful art? Everyone who watches his fights is an instantly converted fan. He is the greatest showman Muay Thai has ever seen.
Therefore, when I was given exclusive access to the content from this Saenchai course early, I was super excited to dive into it. After studying for weeks, my feeling is that it more than lives up to the hype.
This isn’t necessarily a course for beginners. Frankly, it doesn’t make a lot of sense for one of the greatest, most creative and intelligent fighters alive to teach the basics, right? But for those that already practice Muay Thai, love Muay Thai and know Muay Thai, this is a goddamn game changer. To see the genius behind Saenchai’s words and movements, you must have an understanding of Muay Thai already. Otherwise, your lack of knowledge will fail to see him connecting the dots and supplying all the pieces missing from what’s currently known in Muay Thai.
Summary of my thoughts on this course curriculum:
1. On the Muay Thai Stance and Footwork: Saenchai elaborates on the primary difference between Muay Thai and boxing, the ideal stance width for Muay Thai (due to kicks), and why boxers can move the way they do in their sport. He teaches lesser known details on how to create explosive footwork, how to pivot away from aggressors, and demonstrates fast footwork while explaining it all.
2. Normal Teep, Thigh Teep, Side Teep, Rear Teep: Anyone that follows my work knows that I am a huge advocate of teeps/push kicks. This is the jab of Muay Thai, yet a lot of Western practitioners barely know or even use it. Saenchai explains the role of a thigh teep in southpaw vs. orthodox scenarios. This works in same stance scenarios but is amplified in opposite stance scenarios due to aligning of the lead foot. What I love about this section is that he teaches the side teep – something that is not taught in the West and not well understood.
Saenchai also teaches how to generate explosive side teeps and when to use them. (This is pure gold.) He answers: When should you use the normal teep vs. the side teep? How do you mix it up? When do you use the rear teep and how does it play out in scoring? How do you create an even more powerful rear teep? These are all things no one has ever explained before. If you don’t see this section as absolutely priceless content, you’re a fool. This is something that only a teeper of the highest levels can elaborate on and illustrate. These are four primary attacks (that aren’t used or well-taught in the West), working cohesively in one video.
Saenchai is full of brilliant teep ideas.
3. The Inside Leg Kick, High Kick, Getting Height and Length on the Kick: Low kicks aren’t as high scoring a technique in Muay Thai. That fact doesn’t change low kicks from being effective. Low kicks are used as primary setups for Saenchai, and he discusses a key element that he uses to generate his power. One thing I really like about this section is that it highlights the difference in weight transfer between low kicks and high kicks. This critical detail will make people realize why heavy-sat punches pair well with low kicks, and why “throwaway” punches match up with Thai-style high kicks.
Saenchai also reveals how he is able to kick opponents who hold a great height and length advantage. Samart has also explained this before, but these are the only two who I’ve seen really emphasize this. To realize the importance of this key detail, you need to understand that many coaches and fighters in Thailand prefer to leave it out entirely. Saenchai discusses how he creates both length and height in a roundhouse. This is simple in theory but actually very difficult in execution. Involved in creating “length and height” are movements at top-end range of motion almost never executed well by the majority of martial artists. If you think you are beyond practicing and perfecting this, you most likely are not even close.
Again, Saenchai wraps it up by talking about how his powerful low kick works cohesively with his flawless high kick. This setup is used in every single one of his fights and also involves how he sets up his trademark question mark kick. Know that a beautiful high kick or question mark kick would not be possible without first mastering the teep and the low kick.
4. On Kicking with Non-Dominant Leg: Many athletes in the West favor one side, typically the rear side. This is true for a large amount of orthodox fighters and especially for southpaws. Revisit that famously overused Bruce Lee quote: “I fear not the man who has practiced 10,000 kicks once, but I fear the man who has practiced one kick 10,000 times.” Yes, that is true for a beginner, but when competing on a global stage, you need to have a wide variety of weapons available. I have never seen a world-class Muay Thai fighter who cannot do it all. This is why they’re so adaptable to different rule sets and to combat sports of all kinds. Pure Muay Thai fighters have captured titles in boxing, kickboxing and, in the future, MMA.
For southpaws who don’t work on the lead kick, you will realize the importance of training it in this section. Having it available simply assists all of your preferred power attacks. It allows you to take angles, become more unpredictable, and score more effectively.
5. Kicking Trickery, Direction Changes and Level Changes: The point of this section is to emphasize that straightforward blasts of power in high level striking will not work well. It is neither effective nor efficient. Trickery and deception are built into the game of every technician and tactician. The crucial point here is to know when to trick and change direction, and the main options available in primary Muay Thai attacks. Saenchai’s direction in this section is to play chess. If you do this, you are always a step ahead. Many athletes and practitioners do not do this. They either haven’t gotten the basics down to threaten a straight blast or they are too focused on straight blasts. It is a constant progression but for those who are looking to move beyond being a straight blaster, this is the section for you.
6. On the Lean Back: This is a move that isn’t well exploited in MMA yet. A majority of Western striking practitioners are not proficient at this nor do they understand why and when to do it. Saenchai discusses important key details that I haven’t seen explained well ever and anywhere before. This “small, key detail” makes a world of difference.
7. On Countering the Lean Back: Even less well-known than the lean back is how to counter the lean back. This section blew my mind. He talks about what most people do that opens the door for the opponent to lean back and counter, and a series of tactics on what he does to avoid that. Extraordinarily high-level stuff.
8. On Closing Range, Staying Evasive: More of a demonstration and setup for the section that follows. Key takeaway is how active Saenchai keeps his feet compared to the modern Muay Thai style, and how he maintains positional dominance.
9. On Picking the Right Moments, Closing Distance, Building Confidence: One of the biggest misconceptions about Saenchai is that he is just faster than everyone else and that that’s why he lands his attacks. Of course he is fast – he’s a world-class athlete. However, there are also specific mindsets and tactics that push his advantage even further. Here, in this brilliant section, he explains how he does it – building his own confidence and stealing it away from his opponent.
This section really hit home when I considered how he dominated Nong-O, my favorite orthodox technician of this era. If you know the history and the mindset of these two fights, this is in my opinion this is the ultimate fight in displaying mental confidence and winning through building confidence.
10. On Creating a Knockout Counter Blow with Punches: Saenchai explains that although he is not a big puncher, it is precisely how he knocks his opponents out. It’s easy to look at this one and think it is simple, but the pull counter knockout punch is very difficult in execution. Observe how far he pulls and how centered Saenchai is when he delivers back. Conor McGregor and Saenchai have this technique variation in common, as it is a very important southpaw tactic.
11. On Catching Kicks: Too many in the Western striking community do not catch kicks. If they do, most exhibit a rather basic variation of what elite Thai athletes do. For example, in the Dutch kickboxing style (which has heavily influenced countless Western striking communities), fighters typically cushion their arms against the kicks to brace and move forward. In Muay Thai, this block can count for points nonetheless. Bracing against kicks is rather simple in execution, but in my opinion, catching kicks requires much more sensitivity and awareness. For this reason, I consider it a more advanced form of striking. All catchers know how to brace, but not all bracers know how to catch.
It is important to have various kick catch techniques available to you because they provide different options. Different options allow you to break patterns and exploit your opponent’s weakness to a counter if they do have one. Saenchai smartly dissects two of the main catches in Muay Thai, when do use them, and how to potentially use them cohesively. The details and explanations here have never been discussed by any teacher or fighter, online or otherwise. What Saenchai is giving away are game-changers for someone who wants to learn or improve their kick catching.
12. On Sweeps: One of the primary goals of different kick catch variations is to allow you to not only counter with attacks, but also with sweeps. Sweeps are a major display of dominance in the modern style of Muay Thai. Online, there is near-endless footage of Saenchai literally sending world-class athletes flying into the air with his sweeps. He covers where to target, what happens if you are far or near from your opponents, how to lift your opponent into the air, and what is legal or illegal in Muay Thai. This section brilliantly meshes with the previous section.
Here’s my breakdown of Saenchai sending his opponents flying, but he provides many more important details that I had missed.
In fact Saenchai is so brilliant with his sweeps that he KOed a legendary Muay Thai fighter named Kem Sitsongpeenong. He goes into detail on how this happened in his interview and how he sets it up. He regularly uses this technique in his fights.
13. On the Shuffle: No one gives Saenchai enough credit for his shuffle. They say he’s only capable of it because he is so fast, as if that were a bad thing at all, and therefore he is the only competent shuffler out there. This is not true, as the shuffle is in the arsenal of many elite Muay Thai fighters. Where they differ is, again, in execution and nuance. I have personally been taught variations of the shuffle by every Thai technician, Muay Fimeu stylists, and how to counter it.
What Saenchai has to offer in this section is a unique take on why the shuffle is so important. He explains high IQ fighting and mental warfare in a way that I’ve never considered or heard anywhere else. This is extremely important for those who want to decisively outscore their opponents, teaching how to gain every advantage you can in a fight. People see Muay Thai or striking in general as being primarily about brute force. Review this section and it will change your mind.
14. On Moving to your Dominant Side and Also Opponent’s Power Side: Everyone who has ever moved with a southpaw or was taught anything about facing southpaws knows about the outside dominant side foot play. This tactical point is very important, but it is overemphasized. Fighters forget that most of the time striking starts at a neutral position and other times, you will have to move the other way. Saenchai discusses why it’s so important to move the other way, and how to do that. I have never seen anyone talk about this. Almost everyone just reemphasizes what is already known.
Again, here’s my breakdown of this dominant angle at play, but there is a big element not discussed which Saenchai touches upon.
15. On Sparring: There’s a lot of discussion on how Muay Thai fighters spar. There is also a good amount of misconception. Yes, they are controlled, and yes, sometimes they spar light. But that is also not only what is happening. They spar hard often, too. This is, in my opinion, perhaps the most important section of the entire course.
Saenchai reveals how Jockey gym trained. Jockey gym is one of those gyms from the Golden Era of Muay Thai well-known for producing the most evasive, technical, tactical, tricky champions. They have an insane roster of all-time greats: Kaoklai, Lerdsila, Somrak, Silapathai, and of course, Saenchai.
But this only begins to scratch the surface! All of these champions trained in a similar way, and this way was very different from the rest of Thailand. Saenchai discusses what they did and what made them so hard to deal with in the ring. This will change the way you spar.
16. On Running and Weight Cutting: Supplemental conditioning and peaking for a fight is important to achieve elite performance. Having personally studied athletic development from the world’s best academics and coaches, I can tell you that although Muay Thai athletes base their conditioning on tradition, many of these traditions are incredibly effective. Even their weight-cutting methods hold water in some theories and scientific practices.
With all of this said, I wrote this review for one main reason: although advanced athletes have raved about how helpful Saenchai’s course has been to them, I’ve read a few (but too many) posts and bitter inbox messages from beginners complaining that its concepts are too basic.
When presented genius-level content in a concise format, I suppose it can be difficult to spot the difference. So I am writing to personally guarantee you that this course isn’t basic. (It’s anything but basic.) It is the highest level of striking knowledge ever shared like this. Yes – Saenchai could have gone into greater detail, but what he gives in this course is absolutely unique and extremely rare direction and knowledge. It is high-level in both knowledge and execution.
Many try to mimic and analyze Saenchai, myself included. While we might be able to replicate his movements, only he can truly know his intentions when he moves. This course filled in a lot of missing pieces of what I have been studying deeply for so long. I have no idea where these “basic” comments are coming from. To me, I suppose it’s the same thing as if Rickson Gracie revealed his BJJ technique and training system, and white belts calling it basic. (Didn’t someone once say, “To those in the distant past, modern technology could only be interpreted as being magic”? Maybe Saenchai’s technique is just a little too advanced for some.)
On this note, let me revisit the meaning of “basic.” Saenchai’s roundhouse is not your roundhouse. His catch and sweep technique is not the same as yours, even if you you’ve seen a video on how it’s done or you can land your variation on others. From both a biometrical and technical/tactical standpoint, someone like Saenchai is executing a dozen or more fine details that you are not. Giorgio Petrosyan’s style looks “basic and simple”; it is not. The highest level of striking is subtle, and each piece added to the complete striking puzzle makes one an exponentially better striker.
The details that masters share are priceless and there are very few masters that are sharing it online. I cannot recommend this course highly enough, plus I urge those who consider it basic to reconsider. I consider Saenchai’s course more advanced than anything else I’ve seen before.
If you’d like a more detailed breakdown of Saenchai’s seminar techniques, check out my FREE ebook! If you’d like to support Saenchai’s Muay Thai course, go to www.SaenchaiMuayThai.com