5. The Training of Yang Sam Khum
The first lesson in muay Thai training is yang sam khum, which is the footwork of alternate pacing m zigzag. Khum means position. Yang sam khum is the footwork which is limited to step on three positions only, for example, by moving the leading foot to the back, then stepping the other foot to the previous position. Thus, for each step the body turns to the different angles. To master the footwork, the practitioners are trained to walk along the marked positions, This practice is meant to improve the efficiency of maneuver, defense, and attack. Due to repositioning in close space, there are not many gaps in close space, there are not many gaps open to be attacked. The training also improves the coordination of fists, feet, knees, and elbows.
The main principle of yang sam khum is to ensure that the body leaves the smallest gap for being attacked by swaying the body and ready to dodge, retreat, and advance without losing the balance.
At the first position of stance m yang sam khum, the practitioner holds both fists up, with the left fist slightly under the line of sight and the left elbow splayed away, the right fist held at the nipple level, and the right elbow close to the body. The fist which is held close to the body will have more momentum when launched. So, for the unorthodox (southpaw) practitioners, the outer (leading) fist is the right one, keeping the left fist close the body at the nipple level.
For the stance, the practitioner’s feet are splayed apart about a foot from heel to heel. For the orthodox (right-handed) practitioners, the left foot sticks ahead and the body is turned toward the opponent. The unorthodox practitioners do vice versa.
In the ready position, the practitioner’s body must leave no gap from waist up. Since the lower part from waist down to toe is still open, the practitioner is advised to bend his knees slightly and open the heels up, makinghis legs not too straight to be at risk of being snapped or dislocated by the opponent’s foot-thmst. Moreover, by bending the body down, the abdominal gap where the muscle between rib cage and pelvis can be easily targeted will be minimized, and the calf muscle will contract and be stiffened so that it will not hurt much when being kicked. Most importantly, the practitioner must keep the weight at the center of the body toleverage the foot strike either by the front or the rear foot.
Yang Sam Khum Footwork
The practitioner raises his leg up in L-shape, slightly bends the other knee and opens the tip of the foot,ready to step diagonally to the left or right. He holds the diagonally to the left or right. He holds the lead hand is slightly under the line of sight, the other hand is kept close at the level of the nipple. He then steps out from the stance’s center diagonally to the left. When the foot touches the ground firmly, he moves his right foot close to the heel of the landed left foot, leaving the distance about one hand. At the same time, he sways his body to the opposite angle from the first step, making a zigzag pattern of walking. Now he moves from the position 1 to 9 (see the figure), then turns back. If there is not enough space, he just walks from position l to 3 and hen turns back. Keep practicing until the footwork is natural.
The forward steps
1. Throw the left foot forward. The right foot follows up to the heel of the left foot.
2. Throw the right foot forward. The ft foot fouows up to the heel of the right foot.
3. Turn around to the right, throw the left foot back, followed by the right foot up to the heel of the left foot.
The backward step
Do the same as the forward steps but in the opposite direction.
6. Outfit and Amulets
Mongkhon is a headband made of sacred thread or unbleached cloth enchanted with sacred letters by muay teachers or monks before being wrapped withSacred thread. It is soaked In a mixture of coconut oil and boiled propitious plant and encircled around the head.
The tied ends are left in a long tail at the back of the wearer’s head. Legend has it that ancient muay teachers charmed a snake to make it encircle itself by eating its own tail or eating another snake’s tail. The spellbound snake was grilled until dry, and then soaked in the mixture of coconut oil and boiled propitious plant before wrapped up by charmed cloth and sacred thread. Nowadays the making of real snake mongkhon has become a lost art and left as a legend.
Mongkhon is a protective amulet and good luck charm for the wearer. In the past, the fighter would wear mongkhon around his neck when fighting enemies.
Prachlat is made of either fine grade gauze or unbleached cloth used as an armband. It consists of two triangular cloths of white and red colors written with sacred letters made by muay teachers | before being rolled with trakrud (a brass leaf) which also contains sacred letters. As a protective amulet, prachiat is wrapped and tied up on the fighter’s upper arm (sometimes both arms).