Up in the mountains of Khao Yai Thiang, a 4 km climb up a narrow road lined with bushes and branches which reach out and brush the open windows of the car, is the Kem Muaythai Gym. In this hideaway is some really great Muay Thai training, and like a treasure within a treasure, Yodwicha trains there.
You can read about Kem’s gym here.
Yodwicha is an incredible clinch fighter and was named “Fighter of the Year” along with Sangmanee Sor. Tienpo (a truly opposite style femur fighter) when they were each about 16 years old. Being named as a Yod Muay (“top fighter”) is a huge honor and meeting Yodwicha in person, he is amazingly humble. Towering and powerful, but humble. He’s only around 20 years old and is still an active fighter, so when I asked him to instruct me in the clinch he was a bit unpracticed in the role of a teacher. He’s a brilliant instructor, really, but he had no “set” prepared for what to show me. And because he’s very tall and I’m the size of a teaspoon, just clinching together and figuring it out from instinct seems unlikely. Know what though? He made it work and he even clinched with me. I can’t tell you how incredible that is, not only as a star-struck experience for me but in the level of skill and control required to make it happen.
the first 5 minutes of our session together with commentary, above
The video of the full 30 minutes that we worked together is available to my Patreon supporters as exclusive content, – if you are a supporter you can see all of it here – but this is a preview clip of the first 5 minutes or so. Even in 5 minutes he taught me a lot! The three moves he goes over aren’t “tricks” so much as really practical techniques that can be used a great deal.
If you are a supporter see the Full 30+ Minutes on Patreon here
Breaking the Lock
The first piece is how to get out of a lock. There are generally two kinds of clinchers (to be very simple about it): the power clinchers who lock and the fast clinchers who keep moving. Both Yodwicha and I like to lock more, but can swim as well. What’s cool about this first tactic is that it breaks a lock that’s in the opponent’s favor and turns it into a lock or leverage point in your own favor. You go around the outside of your opponent’s arm and push on their jaw, so that your own forearm and shoulder pin the joint of your opponent’s shoulder – then you step out and you can knee right into the center of your foe whereas he can’t reach you and is struggling to get his arm back. You can see it in the these two photos.
Master K actually taught me a similar maneuver years ago with a deeper step behind and more leverage, but I really didn’t understand angles enough to embrace it:
The Turn from Outside Position
The next move is a gorgeous turn that I haven’t mastered yet but the boys at my gym are great at it. I think I have a hard time feeling comfortable gripping the ribs/shoulder with an open glove. Yodwicha’s particular version has two positions: one where the palm goes on the ribcage and one where it goes under the shoulder, almost at the armpit. What’s really cool about his version is that he’s pinning the opponent’s arm in a kind of arm-lock with the same arm as the hand that’s on the ribs. So you lock around the opponent’s arm to pin it, your grip pinched behind their elbow and then you put that same hand on the ribcage (easier when you’re pinning their arm) or up under the shoulder (better if you haven’t pinned the arm). The opposite hand is behind the neck and you do this wide pivot, pushing your rib-hand forward and pulling the neck hand back all in one motion while you turn. It’s a gorgeous and powerful throw even though it doesn’t take a great deal of energy. The turn should ideally happen when the opponent is trying to knee (therefore being on one leg) or moving to a different position up top (therefore having a looser grip while trying to change position). Yodwicha shows the perfect trajectory and is a real pal in letting me turn him. Be sure to knee after. Turns look great because they show control, but knees score, hurt and knock out. Here’s a GIF of the essential movement so you can study it:
The Fake Knee/Teep to Deep Knee
The last piece is something that’s almost a signature of both Yodwicha and Kem. They both love to teep, then fake a teep and gallop forward with a knee instead. Yodwicha showed me a variation where he skips forward and grabs the back of the neck instead of throwing the knee, turning the whole fake into a grab-and-turn, but that’s later on. Here he’s showing how you fake the teep, bring the leg down and skip forward to drive the knee into your opponent’s gut or solar plexus. (Or face if you’re my height and facing someone Yodwicha’s height.) He insisted on the knee coming up really high on the faked teep, to really sell it. And you can see that his shin is mostly vertical on that faked teep, a position I call the “grasshopper block”, then he pulls the shin back to drive the knee forward on the knee that follows. It’s so fucking pretty… and nasty.
The Full 30+ Minutes for Patreon Supporters
If you enjoyed this technique you can see the rest of the 30+ minute session and commentary, and get access to all past and future supporter only content, just by pledging $1 a month. Because you are also helping support the work I do on 8limbs.us, larger pledges are also appreciated as I attempt to reach my goal of self-sustainability.
The rest of the training video and commentary covers these bullet point topics:
- Fake a teep to grab the neck and turn
- Long guard with diagonal forearm to block elbows (forearm not touching face)
- Step behind trip – how to avoid, how to execute
- Elvis hip inside leg throw – avoid and execute
- Long clinch, head under
- Elbows on entry
- Fake teep to elbow
- Lock from the side – pinning shoulder
- Forearm lock with gloves
- Blocking the low clinch waist grab
- Low clinch lock escape – using the opponent’s knee joint
- “Can opener” to rib grab turn
- Arm lock turn behind elbow
- Shoulder pinch and spin behind
- Double plum versus figure 8
- Overturning and punching on entry
- Adjusting an overturn into a super-overturn headlock
- Chatting about how a clinch fighter adjusts to Euro/Western fights
For those that don’t read me often, I’m a huge fan of Thai clinch technique, and have in many ways dedicated myself to sharing as much of it and the Muay Khao fighting style which is sometimes lost in the celebration of more popular Thai striking techniques. It’s an art unto it’s own.
Read all my articles on Muay Thai Clinch here.