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Chern Muay: the hidden treasure of Muay Boran (part 2)

Chern, เชิง artifice; finesse; maneuver.

Master Sintusan’s textbook classifies Chern Muay techniques according to the main body weapon used to attack or counterattack. Therefore, he identifies the following four groups:

• Chern Mahd, the techniques of punches
• Chern Thao, the techniques of kicks
• Chern Kao, the techniques of knees
• Chern Sok, the techniques of elbows

Each one of these groups includes a vast array of attacks and counters based on the many possible uses of a single body weapon. Some of these maneuvers may look intricate and difficult to apply in a real fight, at first: however, it must never been forgotten that all Chern Muay are battle tested techniques and it is our duty to unveil the right applications for a given fighting situation. If a Muay Boran technique seems awkward and too difficult to execute, it is not the technique’s fault. The executor may have devoted too little time to learning it and perhaps he just needs more time to rehearse and more effort to be able to effectively apply it in combat. Some Chern Muay are just like that: they seem difficult and sometimes they discourage practitioners. But the more you train the more you’ll start to appreciate the inner beauty of those ancient fighting techniques. Let’s analyse the four groups more in detail.

1. Chern Mahd. The two basic power lines for punches are straight and curve. Round punches can follow a horizontal, upward, downward or spinning path. Moreover, punches can be combined with kicks, knee and elbow strikes to unleash devastating multiple attacks. When used as counters, single or multiple punching techniques can be employed to defend against all kinds of attacks, such as punches, kicks, knees and elbows.
(video: Chern Mahd to counter swing kick to ribcage)

Most of Chern Mahd applications are intended to attack the head: chin, jaw, nose, temples, ears, throat and neck. However, some of these techniques, especially the multiple attacks, can also be aimed at the body: solar plexus, liver and spleen are the main targets.

2. Chern Thao. Kicking techniques follow two main power lines: straight and round. Round kicks can be vertical upward, vertical downward, horizontal, diagonal upward, diagonal downward and spinning. Kick attacks can be single or multiple: multiple kicks combine round and straight kicks or they mix round kicks that follow different paths, such as diagonal upward and spinning.
(video: Chern Thao attack with multiple kicks)

Some Chern Thao are devised to counter punches while some others are used to counter straight or swing kicks. Kicking techniques are used to attack all kinds of targets from head to calves. The chief points of attack are: jaw, temples, throat, neck, ribcage, solar plexus, liver, spleen, groin, thighs, knees, calves.

3. Chern Kao. Knee attacks belong to two big families: attacks with grabs and attacks without grabs. When you grab and knee, you can catch the opponent’s neck or arms with one or two hands, one or two arms. The main power lines used to deliver knee strikes are: upward, diagonal forward, roundhouse. Some Chern Kao teach how to attack with knees and elbows simultaneously: once properly learned, these short range multiple attacks are devastating and very difficult to defend. Knee strikes are very good counter techniques, usually employed against punches or grabs.
(video: Chern Kao to counter swing punch to the head)

The main targets of Chern Kao are located in the head and body. The chin, jaw, nose, eye sockets, temples are very vulnerable to knee blows. In the trunk, the solar plexus, breastbone, liver, spleen and floating ribs are excellent targets for knee strikes (with or without grabs).

4. Chern Sok. Elbows are the most versatile body weapons included in Chern Muay fighting strategies. Elbow attacks are executed following 9 different energy paths along straight or curved lines. They are short range weapons but they can also be used from a distance with the aid of various jumping and spinning maneuvers. Elbows can be combined with kicks, punches and knees to execute devastating combinations or multiple attacks aimed at different targets simultaneously. For all of these reasons the number of Chern Sok techniques listed by Master Sintusan is superior to any other form of attack (punches, kicks or knee strikes). The best Nak Muay employ elbow strikes as counters against punches or knee strikes.
(video: Chern Sok as finishing technique after parry and throw against left lead)

Leading with an elbow blow is a typical beginner’s mistake that expert fighters rarely make. Several Chern Sok techniques are excellent counter moves: most punches, knee strikes and neck grabs can be countered with deadly efficiency using elbows, according to these ancient precepts. Elbows should be aimed at the throat, chin, crown, side of the head (jaw, temples, ears), neck, nape or at the face (to attack the bridge of the nose or upper lip or to cut the skin of the T-zone) for best results: however, the ribcage, the upper arms and upper legs are also possible targets of the “intangible weapon”.