A couple weeks ago Tor, who is the son of one of my trainers (Daeng) and certainly the most dedicated nakmuay of all the Lanna Thai boys, invited me to join him in his conditioning. The exercise was supposed to be for the shoulders, to help build up strength for clinching, and Tor added a little nugget of incentive that Yodwicha, one of my favorite Lumpinee fighters, does this same exercise. “After clinch,” he said, then pointed to a log that was tucked between the edge of a deep gutter that runs the length of the gym and a low metal fence that separates the actual gym space from a parking lot/yard for the adjacent apartments. Sure, I thought, I’d love to get some more shoulder strength for clinch.
This is an earlier post of mine with video a pull up that I’ve found is good for clinch too.
Tor was, at the time, getting ready for his first fight down in Bangkok. (That is the first time in Bangkok, but his 70-something fight all together.) He’s a very quiet and sweet guy who tries to motivate the other Lanna boys to train harder and be more serious about their Muay Thai paths. He’s best friends with Big, who is the oldest and most accomplished (although second-smallest) of the Thai boys. Big has fought at both Lumpinee and Rajadamnern so Tor has experienced the big stadia as a corner and dreamed relentlessly about taking to those rings himself. Big is, ironically, very small and fights at about my walking-around weight (47 kg). Tor, however, is a comfortable 65 kg or so and cut down to 59 kg (130 lbs) for his first ever fight at Rajadamnern Stadium in Bangkok. We were all really excited for Tor’s big debut and to see his dream to fight in Bangkok come true. He and Big both fought on the same night, so they trained and cut weight together, which was cool. This exercise was part of Tor’s preparation for that fight.
Basically you wedge the wood with weights or against something so that it doesn’t move forward as you bash it. Then you put your feet on either side and, after wetting the wood a bit so it doesn’t flake off in your eye, you start pounding away at the center of the log with weights in your hands. It’s important to keep a “swimming” motion with your shoulders as you lift the weights above your head. While getting ready for his Rajadamnern fight, when I did this exercise with him, Tor said we had to do 250 repetitions and sets of 50 seemed to be reasonable. When I shot this video, a couple weeks after Tor had won his fight at Rajadamnern (yes!!!!) he says 150 repetitions is good, so I guess that’s the maintenance number and 250 is the get-your-butt-ready-for-the-fight number. It’s not easy and keeping form is a bit tricky as you wear through each set. I’ve also seen Tor use a tire prior to the log taking over. I asked him why he changed from the tire to the log and he isn’t sure how to explain it, but what they discuss in Thai is basically that the log is hard (instead of bouncy) and it gets the shoulders better. Use what you’ve got, I guess.
A few notes: I used lighter weights than Tor uses but I don’t know the actual pounds or kilos for either; I didn’t look. Also, Tor got some blisters on his thumbs by the metal rubbing on his skin, so wear some gloves or something if you’re experiencing “hot spots” or rubbing.
The featured photo is Tor and his dad at Rajadamnern after his victory. Tor took a bunch of elbows and got a cut on his nose but he dominated the whole fight. He’s awesome. And you can see how proud Daeng is in that picture.