The push-kick, foot-jab, front kick or “teep” in Thai language is an effective defensive move which can not only stop an aggressive opponent but also humiliate and zap them of confidence. When used effectively, you can use it to effectively stop a charging brawler in their tracks, or prevent a good boxer from ever touching your face.
- To execute a proper teep, you can use your front (lead) leg, or your back leg.
- Time your teeps perfectly for maximum effectiveness. Examples: Just as they are about to kick, as they are charging or when they are in the middle of attacking (therefore, easy to knock off balance).
- For lead leg teeps – transfer your weight to the back leg, lift your lead leg up knee first, and then use your hips to thrust your leg forward, striking your target with the ball of your foot
- The best place to strike is the area between the groin and the belly-button, which serves to take away your opponent’s breath, and to lose power. Any lower and it’s a foul, any higher and you get their abs (which should be strong).
- Other places to teep, which need more precision include the opponent’s front lead leg (above the knee), just as they are about to advance, or even more difficult, taking out the back leg, resulting in them losing their balance. Teeps to the face are to be used with caution (more on that below).
- Back (support) leg teeps take longer to execute, but have more range. You can fake a right kick, but before it strikes the body, pull it inwards to avoid your opponent’s leg check and thrust the hips forward to strike your opponent with the full foot. (A favourite move of Saenchai Sor Kingstar who uses teeps as a huge part of his aresenal)
- Be sure to keep your balance on your supporting leg as your teep, so that you can pull back if you miss, or your opponent catches your kick (you can pull back) or tries to parry.
One reason the teep is so effective is the combination of reach, power and speed of the movement. Unlike Muay Thai’s signature roundhouse, which connects with the shin with the target, the teep uses the full-length of your straight leg and foot, combined with the thrust of the hip. You don’t even have to be particularly long legged for this move to work for you. Saenchai demonstrates huge range with his teeps despite being short and stocky for his weight-class. What he lacks in stature, he makes up for an explosive hip thrust movement which gives turns his foot into a mini truck, slamming into his opponent’s belly.
The Face Teep (To do or not to do)
Although it looks impressive, caution should be used when teeping the face.
A well-place foot can break the nose, or teeth. Although the same outcome can be reached with high kicks, teeps are often more difficult to control – especially if your opponent decides to move towards your foot at the same time. The effect would be similar to getting your face stomped on, but standing up. Therefore, our trainer Wimbledon recommends that outside the ring, it is only practiced on bags and pads.
NEVER teep your trainer in the face, especially if he/she is Thai. Wimbledon explains why a kick or an elbow in the face is acceptable, but a teep to the face is considered a huge insult to people of Thai decent. The foot is considered “the lowest part” of the body, and therefore “dirty”, while the head is the highest and therefore most sacred part of the body. Even touching a Thai person’s head with your hand is a gesture reserved for senior figures of authority like a mother to a child.
Thai people find taboo to use feet to point at anything, and never kick around training objects they respect, such as gloves or Thai pads. So you can imagine, how insulted they would be if you teeped them in the face.
Foot + Face = Not happy Thai
Wimbledon does agree that in certain cases, a teep would be a suitable move in a fight, especially outside of Thailand, where Thai customs may not apply. In Thailand, it is used only in the earlier rounds of similarly ranked fighters. He recalls a case when his trainer, an older man in his 40s fought a much heavier fighter in his early 20s. Even though he was obviously winning easily, the young fighter humiliated the oder fighter “by teeping him in the face in the last round, even though my trainer couldn’t do anything”.
In this case, Wimbledon got his payback, when he fought the same young fighter, by teeping him in the face similarly in the first few seconds of round one to “teach him to show some respect for his elders”.
How to practice the teep:
- Use the free-standing bag to practice left and right teeps, aiming to hit the same spot every time. Work on timing and precision – strike the bag only as it comes towards you, and try not to move from your spot. Work your way up to 100 strong teeps.
- Work this drill with a buddy. Let him/her come at you with hands only, while you work with only the teep. If you find it difficult to control your power, get your buddy to use a belly pad. The goal is to not let them touch your face.
- Warm up by practicing your moving teep up and down the room, trying to extend your hips as much as possible and pulling back your foot.
Wimbledon JAI starts off his fight with a teep to the face. Payback for his opponent who did the same to Wimbledon’s former trainer.