Wed 10 January 2018

Filed under sport

Tags sport

This post originally appeared on XXX

The purpose of this post is to dig into how and why the Donut Defense in muay thai works. Basically, the Donut Defense is a way to slip a body kick. It turns out that aside from being simple and effective, the Donut Defense is based on solid sport science. And it all started with a guy from Oregon named Dick Fosbury. I promise this will all make sense in about 4 minutes after you are done reading this.

So who the hell is Dick Fosberry? Aside from having an awesome name, he revolutionized the sport of pole vault. He figured out a technique that is now called the Fosbury Flop. He ultimately ended up winning the gold medal at the Olympics and setting a new record simultaneously.

The gameplan for us is to first break down the Fosbury Flop. Then we'll steal the idea. We'll apply it to defending against body kicks in muay thai. And we'll call our new version the Donut Defense, because that sounds like a fitting tribute to the Fosbury Flop.

First, read this next paragraph three times, because it sounds like gibberish at first:

The shocking truth behind the Fosbury Flop is that our friend Dick Fosbury actually figured out how to make his center of mass go UNDER the bar at the exact same time as he was jumping OVER the bar.

This should make no sense right now to anyone reading this, assuming you don't already know about the Fosbury Flop. But I assure you, this is the kind of forehead slapping idea that makes perfect sense once it clicks. So bear with me and just look at these pretty pictures:

Check out the black dot. That's the center of mass of a basketball, right?


Check out the black dot. That's the center of mass of a donut, right?


Your mind should be blown because you just admitted to yourself that the center of mass of a donut is not actually inside the donut.

Check out the black dot. That's the center of mass of a half of a donut, after we cut off the bottom, right?


Now, what if you bent over backwards, so you looked like a half a donut? Then jumped over the bar?


Yes, this is exactly what Dick did. He figured out that he could jump over the bar, while his center of mass went under the bar, allowing him to shave off wasted effort. Prior to this discovery, it was just basically assumed by everyone else that the jumper's center of mass always had to go over the bar.

The bottom line...Fosbury could move the bar up higher than anyone else, and still clear it. That's Olympic gold in the bank right there.

So what does any of this have to do with muay thai? And defense?

First, let's see what we are trying to optimize. We are trying to optimize a pretty straightforward response to a body kick. Naturally, we asume we should step back to get out of the way:


This is all fine and good, but could be better.

The shorter guy had to move his center of mass, two times. Once to get out of the way, and then once to get back where he started.

  • This costs energy
  • This takes time

As a result, he can't counterattack, because he spent all he time and energy getting out of the way, then getting back to where he started in the first place.

Now let's see the Donut Defense.

If Fosbury could get over the bar with his body in a donut shape, then you should consider avoiding a kick by putting your body in a donut shape too. See the gif below:


This is exactly the same thing that Fosbury did with the bar. The tall guy bends into a half a donut. Now the shorter guy's shin is going through the tall guy's center of mass. And missing.

The advantage of not having to move your center of mass:

  • This costs less energy
  • This takes less time

As a result, he can counterattack immediately because he is in position to do so.

I recommend to anyone at any level to add the Donut Defense to their shadowboxing and sparring. It's super simple. It's a good alternative to checking kicks and catching kicks. And it just makes a ton of sense from both theortical and practical perspectives.

Once you start to catch on, you see it happening all over the place. Here's Mayweather doing something similar versus Canelo. Mayweather is evading the punch and limiting how far back he needs to move his feet / center of mass:


Alright, I'm going to wrap it up here because I want to keep this short. Thanks for reading; I hope it was worth it. And I hope that no matter what level your training you may be at right now and in the future, you feel comfortable thinking critically about what you do in the gym. Please comment below if you feel inclined.


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