The Cross, known as "Mat Trong" in Muay Thai, is a powerful straight punch thrown with the rear hand. Due to its placement, it's typically slower than the jab but delivers more power.
This punch is fundamental to the powerful striking repertoire of Muay Thai. Mastery of the Cross will equip enthusiasts with a key weapon to utilize in their offensive and defensive strategies.
Stand in a basic Muay Thai stance, with your feet shoulder-width apart, left foot slightly in front (if you're right-handed), hands up guarding the face, and elbows pointing downwards.
Begin the Cross by rotating your back (right) foot, as if you're squashing a bug under your toe. At the same time, start to pivot your hip and shoulder forward. This movement generates the power behind your punch.
Extend your right arm straight towards your opponent, maintaining the rotation of your hip and shoulder. Your wrist should be straight and your fist clenched tightly, hitting with the two larger knuckles.
Once the punch has landed, immediately snap your hand back to its original guarding position, preparing for any counter-attack.
An effective defense against the Cross is to anticipate the punch and swiftly move your head to the side, this technique is popularly known as a slip.
Alternatively, you can use a "catching" technique wherein you catch the opponent's punch with your opposite hand, then quickly retract in readiness for the next attack.
Countering the Cross can be done by utilizing a well-timed hook. As your opponent throws the Cross, slip to the outside of their punch, while simultaneously throwing a left hook to their exposed side.
Alternatively, you can also execute a low kick to their standing leg, as throwing a Cross can often leave an opponent off-balance.
Even though the Cross can be a bit slower than the jab, when executed correctly, it generates substantial power due to the full body rotation. Practice diligently to improve your speed, accuracy, and reflex.
This fundamental technique, when mastered, provides a solid foundation for a multi-faceted offensive and defensive Muay Thai strategy. The Cross, in its simplicity, encapsulates the very essence of Muay Thai – direct, efficient, and powerful.