Can You Catch Kicks in Muay Thai? Understanding Rules and Techniques (2023)

Rate this post

Are you intrigued by the powerful and dynamic sport of Muay Thai? Are you wondering, “Can you catch kicks in Muay Thai?”

The answer is yes. You can catch kicks in Muay Thai. This technique is not only permitted but also a strategic move used to gain an advantage over the opponent. However, executing effectively without leaving oneself open to counterattacks requires skill and perfect timing.

So, how do you exactly use this technique, and what are the rules surrounding it in Muay Thai? Let’s delve deeper into this fascinating aspect of the sport.

The technique of catching kicks in Muay Thai

Are you keen on mastering the skill of catching kicks in Muay Thai? Understandably so. It’s a technique that can provide a definitive edge during a bout, turning your opponent’s offensive move into your advantage. So, let’s delve deeper into the realm of this fascinating technique. 

1. Understanding the Basics of Catching Kicks

The first step in learning to catch kicks is understanding the timing and technique. Catching a kick in Muay Thai involves intercepting an opponent’s kick, securing it, and then using it to counterattack.

However, it’s easier said than done. Timing, precision, and accuracy play pivotal roles in effectively catching a kick without leaving yourself vulnerable.

To catch kicks, first understand timing and technique
To catch kicks, first understand timing and technique

2. Steps to Catch a Kick in Muay Thai

Let’s break down the process into several manageable steps: 

  1. Anticipate the Kick: You need to read your opponent’s movements and anticipate when the kick is coming. This is crucial to prepare for the catch.
  2. Defend and Catch: As the kick comes in, use your forearm to block and your hand to catch the opponent’s foot. Your catch should be firm but not overly tight.
  3. Counterattack: Once you’ve caught the kick, it’s time to counterattack. Depending on the situation and your expertise, this could involve a sweep, a strike, or a throw.

Remember, practice is key. The more you practice these steps, the more automatic they will become. 

2. Things to Keep in Mind 

While catching kicks can be a game-changer, it’s essential to keep a few things in mind: 

  • The Rules: Catching kicks is legal in Muay Thai, but there are rules. For example, you cannot hold the caught kick indefinitely. It’s important to understand these rules to avoid penalties.
  • Risks Involved: Every move in Muay Thai comes with risks. You might expose yourself to punches or elbow strikes when you attempt to catch a kick. Always judge the situation before deciding to catch.
  • React Fast: You must react fast once you’ve caught a kick. The longer you hold your opponent’s foot, the more time you give them to react and possibly counter your move.

READ NEXT: How Fast Is A Muay Thai Kick?

Benefits of catching kicks in Muay Thai training

Now that we’ve discussed the rules and the techniques, let’s venture into the realm of benefits. Why should you consider practicing catching kicks in your Muay Thai training regimen?

1. It breaks the opponent’s offensive rhythm 

A fighter can disrupt their opponent’s offensive rhythm by successfully catching a kick. When an opponent prepares to launch a powerful kick, they focus on their movement and less on their defense. Catches can swiftly turn the tables, leaving the kicker off balance and potentially open for a counter-attack.

Catch a kick to disrupt the opponent's rhythm
Catch a kick to disrupt the opponent’s rhythm

2. Sets up counter-attacks

Catching a kick provides an excellent opportunity for counter-attacks. Once a fighter has caught their opponent’s kick, they can retaliate with various techniques, from punches to sweeps or throws, all while the opponent is compromised and off-balance. 

3. Demonstrates superior skill and control 

Beyond practical advantages, catching a kick can also provide psychological benefits. It signals to your opponent, judges, and spectators that you possess high skill and control. This can boost your confidence and potentially intimidate your opponent.

Note: While catching kicks can be beneficial, it’s important to remember that this technique requires precise timing and a deep understanding of your opponent’s movements. It’s not a beginner move and should be practiced under the guidance of a skilled coach.

4. Opens up sweeping opportunities 

Catching an opponent’s kick leaves them on one foot, which creates an opportunity for a sweep. Sweeps are a great way to knock your opponent to the ground, giving you a few precious seconds to launch a follow-up attack or regain your position.

The risks of catching kicks in Muay Thai fights

Before we delve into the specifics of catching kicks in Muay Thai, let’s examine the potential risks associated with this technique. It’s important to approach this topic with an understanding of the potential hazards to ensure your technique is safe and effective.

1. The potential damage 

A common misconception among novices is that catching kicks can help them avoid damage. However, the reality is quite different. You’re exposing yourself to a potential barrage of strikes when you attempt to catch a kick. Your opponent, recognizing your intention, may feint a low kick only to follow up with a swift punch or elbow. 

2. The element of unpredictability 

Secondly, the unpredictable nature of Muay Thai fights adds to the risk. The sport is fast-paced, and fighters often mix up their strikes, making it difficult to anticipate when a kick is coming. This unpredictability can make catching kicks challenging and risky, particularly in high-stakes bouts. 

3. Positioning and balance 

Lastly, let’s talk about positioning and balance – two crucial aspects of any martial art. Attempting to catch a kick can compromise both. If the kick is powerful enough, it may throw you off balance. Furthermore, if you’re not positioned correctly, you might allow your opponent to strike.

Catching kicks in Muay Thai is a legal and potentially rewarding technique, but it’s not without risks. It requires excellent reflexes, impeccable timing, and a strong understanding of your opponent’s tactics. So, before you catch those kicks, ask yourself – are you ready to take the risk?

Ultimately, the decision to implement any technique, including catching kicks, should be based on your skill level, understanding of the game, and comfort in taking calculated risks. So, train hard, think smart, and remember – every move in Muay Thai, including catching kicks, is a strategic decision.

How to catch kicks in Muay Thai sparring

In this section, I’ll demystify the process and give practical, step-by-step advice on successfully and safely catching kicks during a Muay Thai sparring session.

1. Understanding the Basics 

Firstly, it’s essential to grasp the basic concept that catching kicks in Muay Thai involves more than just grabbing your opponent’s leg. It’s a strategic move that requires timing, strength, and precision. It’s not simply about holding onto the leg; what you do afterward counts. 

2. Steps to Catch a Kick When Sparring

  1. Expect the Kick: The first step is to anticipate your opponent’s move. Watch out for signs that a kick is coming, such as a change in their balance or stance.
  2. React Quickly: React quickly as soon as you see the kick coming. The aim is to catch the leg before it can significantly impact.
  3. Use Both Hands: For a successful catch, use both hands. The hand closest to your opponent should catch the lower part of the leg, near the ankle. The other hand should catch the upper part near the knee.
  4. Control the Leg: Once you’ve caught the leg, maintain control by holding it firmly. This will restrict your opponent’s movement and create an opportunity for a counter-attack.

Remember, the key element to successful catching of kicks is anticipating the opponent’s moves and a swift, well-coordinated response.

The first step in kick catching is to anticipate your opponent's move
The first step in kick catching is to anticipate your opponent’s move

3. Tips for Practicing Kick Catching 

Like any other technique in Muay Thai, effective kickcatching comes with practice.

Here are a few tips to help you improve: 

  • Drill with a Partner: Practicing with a partner allows you to develop the necessary timing and coordination skills. Start slow and gradually increase the speed as you become more comfortable.
  • Work on Your Reflexes: Quick reaction times are crucial for catching kicks. Incorporate reflex training into your workout routine.
  • Study Your Opponent: Pay attention to your opponent’s patterns and habits. This can give you valuable insights into when and how they will kick.

By understanding the mechanics of catching kicks and dedicating time to practice, you’ll soon find yourself mastering this effective defensive technique in Muay Thai sparring. Just remember, as with any skill, consistency is key.

Common mistakes to avoid when catching kicks in Muay Thai

There are common mistakes that beginners and even some experienced practitioners often make when trying to catch Muay Thai kicks. Avoiding these pitfalls can elevate your game, giving you a competitive edge and enhancing your understanding of Muay Thai’s multifaceted strategy.

Mistake #1: Incorrect Timing 

The first and perhaps the most critical mistake is incorrect timing. Catching a kick is all about anticipation and precision. If you attempt to catch the kick too early or too late, you might end up missing the catch or, worse, getting hit by the full impact of the kick. 

Mistake #2: Neglecting Guard Position 

Another common error is neglecting the importance of maintaining a good guard position while trying to catch a kick. Remember that you are vulnerable to other attacks while attempting a catch. Hence, it’s crucial to keep your guard up to protect yourself.

Always guard up to protect yourself
Always guard up to protect yourself
(image source:

Mistake #3: Failing to Counterattack 

Catching a kick without a subsequent counterattack is like winning a lottery ticket but forgetting to claim the prize. Catching a kick primarily aims to create an opening for a counterattack. Failing to capitalize on this leaves you vulnerable to a counterattack from your opponent.

Mistake #4: Over-reliance on Catching Kicks 

While catching kicks can be an effective defensive strategy, it shouldn’t be your only one. Over-reliance on this technique can make you predictable, and experienced opponents will quickly take advantage of this.

Muay Thai is a strategy, speed, and versatility game. Over-reliance on one technique, catching kicks or anything else, limits your potential and makes it easier for your opponent to anticipate your moves.

Training drills to improve your Muay Thai kick-catching skills

If you’ve been asking, “Can you catch kicks in Muay Thai?”, the answer is a resounding yes. However, it’s not just about knowing it’s possible but mastering the technique. A well-executed kick catch can turn the tide of a match, providing an advantage that could be the key to your victory. In this section, I’ll delve into the training drills you can incorporate into your routine to improve your skill in catching kicks. 

1. Observation and Reflex Drills 

Improving your kick-catching abilities starts with enhancing your observation skills and reflexes. These drills are designed to make you more responsive to your opponent’s movements, allowing you to anticipate and catch kicks effectively. 

  • Partner Reaction Drill: This drill requires a training partner. Your partner throws different types of kicks; your job is to react as quickly as possible, catching the kicks before they land. Keep your hands up, and stay alert.
  • Shadow Boxing: While shadow boxing, visualize your imaginary opponent throwing kicks, and respond by catching these imaginary kicks. This drill helps your brain get accustomed to the action of catching kicks, making it a reflexive move.

2. Strength and Conditioning Drills 

Strength and conditioning are crucial components of your kick-catching training. These drills will help you build the necessary stamina and power to hold onto your opponent’s leg, even under the pressure of a real match. 

  • Grip Strength Exercises: Incorporate exercises like deadlifts, pull-ups, and farmer’s walks into your training routine to improve your grip strength. A strong grip is necessary for maintaining a hold on the caught leg.
  • Core Stability Exercises: Catching a kick can throw off your balance if your core isn’t strong enough. Exercises such as planks, Russian twists, and leg raises can help you build a stable core.

3. Technique-specific Drills 

Once you’ve honed your reflexes and built up your strength, it’s time to focus on technique-specific drills. Remember, the devil is in the details. 

  • High, Mid, and Low Kick Catches: Practice catching high, mid, and low kicks. Each type requires a different approach and technique.
  • Catch and Counter Drills: After catching a kick, knowing how to counter-attack is essential. Practice responses like sweeps, dumps, and strikes after a successful catch.

Alternative techniques for defending against kicks in Muay Thai

In the exhilarating world of Muay Thai, there’s more to defending against kicks than merely catching them. Although catching an opponent’s kick is a viable option, it’s not the only way to neutralize an incoming low or high kick.

Let’s explore some alternative strategies to manage these attacks effectively. 

1. The Check 

One of the most common methods is the ‘check’. The check involves lifting your leg to block the opponent’s kick. This technique nullifies the impact and places you in a position to counter-attack.

The check involves lifting your leg to block the opponent's kick
The check involves lifting your leg to block the opponent’s kick
(image source:

2. The Dodge 

Another effective technique is the ‘dodge’. The dodge involves moving out of the path of an incoming kick, using swift footwork and body movements. This technique is appealing because it keeps you from absorbing any damage and leaves your opponent vulnerable.

3. The Teep 

The ‘teep’, an essential tool in the Muay Thai fighter’s arsenal, is both an offensive and defensive weapon. It’s a front push kick to keep an opponent at bay, interrupt their rhythm, or defend against incoming kicks. A well-timed teep can stop an opponent’s attack in its tracks.

4. The Parry 

Finally, let’s talk about the ‘parry’. Parrying is a technique that redirects an opponent’s kick away from your body. A successful parry requires good timing and accuracy, but it can leave your opponent off balance and open to a counter-attack when done right.

Each of these techniques offers its unique strengths and weaknesses. However, they all share one common trait: the need for practice. Regular training and sparring are essential to develop the correct timing and precision for each technique. 

  • Check: Lift your leg to block the opponent’s kick.
  • Dodge: Use swift footwork and body movements to move out of the path of the kick.
  • Teep: Use a front push kick to keep an opponent at bay, interrupt their rhythm, or defend against incoming kicks.
  • Parry: Redirect an opponent’s kick away from your body.

Remember, the journey of mastering Muay Thai is a constant process of learning and refining techniques. Whether catching kicks or employing other defensive strategies, your development as a fighter hinges on your willingness to learn and grow.


In conclusion, catching kicks in Muay Thai is possible and a critical defensive technique that practitioners can utilize to gain an advantage. This technique offers a unique opportunity for a fighter to neutralize an attack and implement a counterattack, often through a sweep or a strike.

Here’s a quick recap: 

  • Catching kicks in Muay Thai: Yes, it’s allowed and an essential part of the sport. It enables a fighter to put their opponent off balance and counterattack effectively.
  • Technique: It requires a good understanding of timing and precision. A fighter must be able to predict the kick and react swiftly to grab the attacking leg.
  • Rules: While catching kicks is allowed, holding onto the leg for an extended period is not. This is considered a foul in competitive Muay Thai.

Whether a beginner or an experienced practitioner, understanding the art of catching kicks can drastically improve your Muay Thai skills. So, are you ready to take the next step in your Muay Thai journey?

Photo of author

Michael B. Ryan

Michael is a passionate Muay Thai enthusiast and founder of Fancy Muay Thai. He shares tips and resources to help others improve their skills and provides unbiased product reviews. is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to and affiliated sites. Amazon and the Amazon logo are trademarks of, Inc. or its affiliates.