It always fascinated me, the way two bodies can fit together like a sweaty, blood-encrusted puzzle. Like a Rubik's Cube or a good game of chess, combat is a puzzle that requires mastery, skill and a little bit of luck. Some are attracted by this challenge, some are in it for the physical benefits, and others just want to blow off some steam.
From age 7 I was doing junior karate and was transfixed on being the best I could be, but it wasn't until age 16 that I got seriously interested in combat sports. I have dabbled in wrestling and tae kwon do, but now I train in kickboxing and Brazilian jiu-jitsu. After a year and a half of training in these disciplines, I've decided to switch things up a bit. I met with my coach this past Friday after recovering from a minor injury and told him that I was interested in learning some Muay-Thai.
For those who don't know, Muay-Thai (or "Thai Boxing") is a Taiwanese combat sport that is well-known for its visceral brutality. This is one of the rare fighting sports that allows the use of both bare elbow and knee strikes. Given that elbows and knees are used, Muay-Thai quickly became known as "The art of eight limbs."
The first thing we went over is a staple of the Muay-Thai style: The Thai clinch. The Thai clinch (also known as a a double collar tie) is performed by grasping the back of an opponent's neck/head area with both hands and pressing the elbows inward towards the collar bones. This locks the head in position with nowhere to go but down. From here, it's easily possible to land destructive knee strikes (to the face AND body) as well as devastating elbows and traditional hand strikes.
Hand and arm positioning is key with this type of clinch. When used effectively, this position allows you to control your opponent's movements and swing them around by their head. There are a few ways to do it properly and a few ways to make sure you have a really bad day.
Once you have the clinch locked in and you feel comfortable, it's time to make some important decisions. Your main choices are: Let go, whip the head around, push them up against the cage/ropes, trip them, knee strikes, elbow strikes, hand strikes or you could try to transition to a better position. Personally, I tend to value knee strikes above all else.
Muay-Thai is one of the most high-risk sports on the planet. The potential for serious injury is insane. I feel privileged to have learned these tricks from trained professionals, which reminds me: I AM NOT AN EXPERT. DON'T DO THIS STUFF WITHOUT LIVE INSTRUCTION FROM A MARTIAL ARTS PROFESSIONAL.