In the video below some of the techniques being worked on:
- blade of the forearm lock to create leverage
- turns on the knee, waiting until on one foot
- small jerks to off balance, instead of continuous pressure
- moving forward and back to off balance
- inside thigh trip to turn and trip
- steering by the inside of the elbows
- the bounce to hide moves
Spreading the Technique of Clinch
This is a follow up post on my Passing Some Clinch Knowledge post on my visit to the Pettonpung gym about a month before this, where I showed my lock and a few other basic things to Phetlilaa, one of the fastest rising knee-fighting stars here in Thailand, only 13 years old. When I came back to Chiang Mai to fight I visited the gym again, more prepared to get some clinch training in with Phetlilaa and some of her teammates, too. Her coach had asked if I could do this every time I’m in Chiang Mai; I’d love to.
The last time I was up I worked with Phetlilaa for only a few minutes and it wasn’t so much clinch training as just showing her a few of the things that I’ve taken from how I train with the boys at Petchrungruang. The difficulty in learning the clinch at all is that it takes hours and hours of just doing it and there’s very little instruction to it. Since women are a minority in most gyms and therefore might not have access to the same training as the boys (as by a certain age it’s no longer appropriate for boys and girls to clinch together, due to sexual innuendo) and with so few women around you might not have many advanced clinchers to raise the game of everyone. Even if you do have a few clinch partners, you need to throw in an oddball every now and again to keep everything fresh, someone you can steal strange techniques from. Boys get this experience with how many fighters cycle through gyms, bringing in foreign techniques. That’s what I’m trying to offer here, really. Being the person who these fighters aren’t used to with skills they can learn quickly and then get good at over time.
This visit I got to spend more time in the ring with Phetlilaa and she actually clinched with me in a more competitive manner, rather than just letting me show her a few things. She’s a very competitive young woman, in an awesome way, and she both loved throwing me down and I could sense was prickled by her go-to moves not working on me as she’s accustomed to them working on most of her opponents or training partners. I also got to work with Nong Oil (pronounced Oy), who is quite a bit bigger but, as far as I know, isn’t specifically a clinch or knee fighter. She’s got skills and good instincts in the clinch, but there’s a difference between those of us who are drawn to it by our nature (me, Phetlilaa, Phetjee Jaa) and those who aren’t. But Nong Oil picked things up very quickly and it was fun to work with her too (both are in the video below). Nong Oil and I keep in touch through Facebook and Instagram now, which is sweet.
But aside from being something of an instructional video where you might see something you’d like to add to your own clinch game, I think for me the main thing of this post (and the experience of going to train with these girls) is that it’s a special thing to see women training clinch together. I almost teared up in editing the footage at one point. In Thailand you see boys and young men clinching all the time and if there are one or two women in a gym they might be given partners to work with on the side, but it’s rare that they’re actually thrown in with the mix. In my case I was for a time in the big pack at my gym (Petchrungurang) but now after a couple of years all those young men have grown much bigger in size (55+) and it’s not reasonable for me to be among that group anymore… that sucks. With a gym that is all-female, like Pettonpung, of course the fighters are going to clinch with each other but I’m certain that Phetlilaa is a shark in that tank. You need challenge to grow. I remember a few years ago when I was at Phetjee Jaa’s family gym I would watch her brother Mawin just destroy everyone he touched in the clinch (other than Jee Jaa; he still bested her 90% of the time but she new all his tricks and could give him a hard time…he knew all her tricks, too). Mawin though needed someone bigger and better than him to challenge his growth. I was bigger, but never got better than he was. He’d have benefited a great deal by staying at Phetchrungruang, where they once trained and where there were so many boys to work with. This is what young women need as well – more partners, more time, and more variety, especially in the clinch. So that’s what I feel this sorority of training is when I step into the ring of Pettonpung. It’s women working together in a way that is somewhat special, in a way that shouldn’t be as rare as it is. But whether it’s a rarity or something that becomes the norm, either way it’s precious to our growth – all of us – and I’m very excited about that.
read about this gym here: Pettonpung Gym – The All Female Gym in Mae Rim
The twenty+ minute video below is
above, 20+ minutes of clinch with Phetlilaa and Nong Oi
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You can read about my previous visit where I showed Phetlilaa some of the techniques I prefer.
Read all my articles on Muay Thai Clinch
Read all my articles on the Gendered Experience