above, 17 minutes with one of the great elbow fighters of the Golden Age, Yodkhunpon.
Yodkhunpon Lead Side Attack
One of my favorite things about Yodkhunpon (and there are a lot of things I really like about him) is how alive his mind is when it comes to working out a strategy, technique, or solution in Muay Thai. He’s a pretty quiet guy to begin with, but sometimes he’ll fall into a silence and turn into himself, where you can see his calculating it out – if it’s a technique sometimes he has to feel it, shadowing somewhat softly as he works through the movements. It’s beautiful. This session is the result of exactly this kind of thoughtfulness. I told Khun that I’d be fighting in two days and wanted to work some knees, elbows and clinch with him. He agreed, sorted out a solid strategy for the first hour or so that we were filming for my patrons, and then took me into the kids’ ring of my gym for this incredible addendum. The entire long-form video will be available to my patrons in the Muay Thai Library, and this last segment was just so precious that I felt the need to share it with everybody. Not only the technique and strategy, but a glimpse into the man that Yodkhunpon is as well. Capturing the essences of these legends is a big part of my drive to archive them in the Muay Thai Library and this excerpt from this session expresses Khun brilliantly.
Khun is a natural Southpaw and his signature move is a lead, butterfly-knife elbow over the top of his opponent’s lead hand. So, for him that’s a right elbow. It happens that the opponent I was getting ready to face is Orthodox, but likes to kick with her left leg. I’ve been working with Karuhat now for a few months on going Southpaw (I’m Orthodox) and coming in with my lead jap and teep to set up for a big left strike, so this is similar to that except that Yodkhunpon wants me to stay standing Orthodox. So everything is left, left, left and then a big right strike. It’s incredibly simple but also incredibly effective. If you’re Orthodox vs Orthodox and using your left side, that’s all striking to your opponent’s open side. You use all that to set up for a big power-side strike at the right moment, which Khun specifies when he shows me how to watch for the “buckle” at your opponent’s waist. When they show that little sign of give, you nail them with the power shot. The voiceover explains this strategy and what Khun is asking for in real time with how he’s unfolding it for me, so I won’t go into it here, but what I will say is that this is an immediately practical tactic that isn’t a “set up” for something else. You can fight a whole fight just like this, and if you keep moving forward and are relentless about it, you can be scary as hell with a very minimal approach. It felt good to move like this, and really that’s the secret to any “usefulness” of any technique or tactic. If it feels good, do it.
The Resting Elbow
Another element included in this segment is his signature clinch elbow. He keeps his hand on the bicep of his opponent, very light and unthreatening, then times the strike with the opponent’s knee (when they’re on one leg, usually the opposite side knee to the side you’re elbowing on). What I didn’t understand for a long time with this elbow is that it doesn’t have to land the first time, or necessarily at all. It’s a way to bash your opponent off of you, off-balance them, crack open their grip, scare the hell out of them and, if you do land it on the jaw, potentially knock them out. The lead elbow he teaches is a cutting elbow; this one is a “get the f*ck off or go to sleep” elbow.
If you enjoy this kind of long form training video and commentary, take a look at my Muay Thai Library documentary project: Patreon Muay Thai Library – by pledging a suggested pledge of $5 you get immediate access to now over 19 hours of in depth training video with legends of Thailand. Yodkhunpon is already in the Library, and the full hour and 20 minutes of this session will be added there soon.