One of the great instructors of the Muay Khao and clinch style of Muay Thai is Kru Diesel of FA Group, having trained some of the very best of modern Muay Thai clinch monsters, from Yodwicha to Petchboonchu.
as a patron you can also listen to this session as a podcast
Our Library Coffee Diesel Discussion
In addition to the extended clips above, you can check out our Library Coffee session discussing the bigger ideas we took from Kru Diesel’s instruction. You can listen to this Library Coffee as a podcast, as a patron, here. Or just watch the free YouTube video:
video above: for special sessions we do a podcast breakdown of the cool stuff we found in filming with a legend or a great kru, above is our talk about Kru Diesel.
If you’d like to train with Kru Diesel you can at his gym in Bangkok: Muay Thai FA Group
Below are the full watching notes to the entire 84 minute session in the Muay Thai Library:
Kru Diesel Watching Notes
Kru Diesel is responsible for some of the biggest names in Bangkok National Stadia, most notably Petboonchu and Yothin. He is a renowned trainer of Muay Khao and the F.A. Group gym has for many years now been a destination for westerners hoping to focus on clinch in Thailand. For me, as not only a practitioner of knee fighting but also a huge admirer of the style and its variations, the chance to get Kru Diesel into the Muay Thai Library was one that I’d been looking forward to for a long time.
He didn’t disappoint. Kru Diesel is relaxed in a way that relentless, violently destructive fighters often are in their natural disposition. But he’s not disengaged or dismissive, he has an incredibly keen eye for what can be improved upon and a degree of patience for when to insert that information or correction that I found really inspiring. Regardless of what style one is in Muay Thai, the way to become adroit in that style is via lots and lots and lots of time spent just doing it. Playing, making mistakes, trying things out. For the Muay Khao style, that means endless hours in freestyle clinching – getting tired, recovering, using power, conserving power, using technique, solving someone else’s technique, etc. Somehow, Kru Diesel was able to touch on all these things within the 1 hour session. He started out by having me just clinch with one of his fighters, Bia, who is bigger, taller, and more skilled than I am. But he’s also experienced in clinching against all different levels, so he more or less kept his power and skills at “Baby Bear” for me to be able to “win some, lose some more.”
Things to Look Out For:
1) Proximity, Effort, Arc and Timing: one of the first things Diesel corrects is me trying to use strength to turn Bia, who is bigger and stronger than I am. Kru Diesel specifies that it’s too early (in the fight, in the clinch session) to be using strength because my opponent (Bia) still has strength and energy, too. So he changes the turn I’d used into a little twist that requires very little strength and is timed to the opponent’s strike, so they kind of help you knock them over with their own movement. Just this one correction touches on many points: when to use strength, how to use timing, who are you fighting, what are they good at, etc. For turns to work without strength, you have to stay really close.
2) Turns on Knees: if you’re in-fighting, the only weapons available are knees or throws. So time your throws against the opponent’s knees and, since they’re doing the same, jump on your knees so that you’re not relying on the ground and risk being swept on your own knees. Not every time – you have to remain versatile and unpredictable – but add it to the arsenal.
3) Yothin’s Lock: Diesel specifies a lock that Yothin uses, which is more or less exactly like my overturn lock but without overturning (which is a problem for me). The arm wraps all the way around the opponent’s neck and the wrists lock on one side, but you stay squared up (rather than the overturn I get myself into) and so the proximity of your upper bodies makes it impossible for your opponent to pry you off, but you can use a strong lower-body whip to turn the opponent to the ground.
4) Knee Buckles: you can also learn this from Kru Gai in the Muay Thai Library, and Namsaknoi has a version, but Diesel takes advantage of the opponent pushing their hips in during clinch (which is a good defense from knees as a temporary position) by knocking them off of one leg with his knee to their thigh and then ripping toward his own hip.
5) Inside Ankle Tap: this is the opposite of the outside trip, wherein if an opponent takes a wide stance you can just put your foot inside theirs and quickly knock their ankle outward, putting their weight on one leg, and ripping them down with a strong twist.
6) His Posture: I obsess over this a bit and it’s not ever taught to me, but he does it all throughout the session and you should totally watch it and steal it. Kru Diesel’s body position is such that he tucks his head between his shoulders without “hunching” to protect his neck and jaw, but has his stance wide and kind of C shaped. Just watch how he puts his hips out and in at different moments to complicate my attacks, snuff my power, change angles and throw. It’s beautiful.
7) His arms: I also obsess over the frame he makes. It’s different from mine, which is one hand on the neck and one on the inner arm. Kru Diesel likes both arms to be bent, which makes them harder to move by the opponent, but he loves to pin the opponent’s long arm against his own shoulder and then yank them (me) around or elbow over it. The arm pin is incredible, but just having his arms bent the way he does is incredibly defensive at this range.
8) Shoulder Crushing: shoulders are totally the secret to the best clinchers. Kru Diesel crushes my arm against my face to turn out of a lock. I struggle a bit with our height difference, but it’s mostly because I didn’t understand to pull him into my shoulder first (Sangtiennoi teaches this in his Library Session as well). You pull the opponent’s head to your shoulder/peck, then crush their arm upward with your shoulder against your jaw and rotate your body.
9) Strength and Technique: he makes this point early, verbally, but he makes it over and over again in what he’s teaching me throughout the session. I’ve heard it from every great teacher/fighter who one should listen to, the same thing: if you don’t have endurance/power, you don’t have access to your technique. If you don’t have technique, you’ll use up all your power too early. Learn them together. Work on them together. Figure out how to make them function in tandem, like how your upper body and lower body should work together; like how offense and defense should be one.
I’m hoping these notes will be of benefit for even non-patrons, as well as the video clips. There are now over 90 hours of commentary real Thai technical instruction in the Muay Thai Library, check out the Table of Contents here.
Kevin’s Photography from the Session
To give a feel for the session here are some of Kevins’ edited stills, you can follow Kevin’s photography on Instagram here.
More Muay Khao
If you love the Muay Khao style and the Art of Clinching check out the rest of my 8limbsus articles on Clinch in Thailand’s Muay Thai.
Or, browse the Muay Thai Library archive for patrons under the Muay Khao tab, long form documentation and commentary straight from Thailand’s greatest.