The school of hard kicks - Return to Murder style
Matt Ray | 11 July 2012
If you're shy of taking a beating then it probably doesn't pay to step into a thai boxing ring with a former World and European champion. But Flipside was promised that Matti Parks would be in 'Mr Miyagi' mode rather than his 'take you apart piece-by-piece' competition mindset. Just as well because this man has the skills - the kind of fierce thai boxing skills that are on show in the brand new martial arts flick Return to Murder, out now on DVD.
As soon as I duck under the ropes and enter the ring the school of hard knocks is on. First things first and I'm standing all wrong. In thai boxing you need to stand almost square on and slightly duck footed, unlike in boxing where you turn to show the smallest target. 'This lets you block kicks with your shin rather than having your leg kicked out from under you,' points out Matti.
I throw a couple of jabs and get another good piece of advice. 'Turn your hand down as you punch to bring your shoulder up and protect your chin, and bring your other shoulder back for more power.'
When it comes to kick it seems my footwork is lacking. 'You need to pivot on the ball of your foot to turn your hips into the kick then pivot back to bring your leg back and recover in time to strike or counter.'
Once I nail this even high kicks become smooth and flowing. And on the few occasions I remember to drop my top arm back I really hit the sweet spot. It's the same with the knee and elbow strikes - using my body position to drive the strikes through creates power without having to snatch for it.
It doesn't take long for me to get into the flow of things and when Matti suggests a bit of mock sparring I feel confident I can use my new-found skills. Hmmm. I soon find out that a world champ can take you apart just for fun as Matti sends flurries of punches at me in order to distract me for long enough to sweep me to the floor or plant a kick right in my ribs. Oh well practice makes perfect - maybe in a few years I'll be able to sneak a jab in!
But you don't have to want to get busy in the ring to see benefits from Thai Boxing. 'It's is good for self defence,' says Matti. 'It teaches you how to deal with strikes from hands and feet but also if you get grabbed or someone tries to take you to the floor. It's getting really popular and there are lots of fights on. The best way to get into it is to find a local club and go two two sessions a week - any less and you'll get frustrated at the speed of your improvement.'
So what are Matti's Top Five Tips for thai boxing success?
1. Learn your right from your left. Seriously, co-ordination skills are the first thing you need to learn and practicing moves will help you to train these.
2. Strike through the target for more power. Aim to keep the momentum going.
3. Get a conditioned core. I don't care if someone kicks me in the stomach, that's the least of my worries.
4. Move your opposite shoulder back when you punch as this will add power to the strike.
5. Lift onto the balls of your feet when you kick so that you can pivot and try to stay on them as you move.
So what are you waiting for? Step to it!
Thanks to: Starsgym.co.uk T:020 7223 6913. Kids classes & private tuition available
Return To Murder is out now on DVD & Blu-ray courtesy of Universal Pictures (UK)