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Muay Thai Elbows
Elbow strikes are some of the most feared weapons in muay thai arsenal. Strikes with the tip of the elbow can cut open your opponent’s forehead. Elbows to the temple and the jaw both have fight ending potential.
The most common offensive clinch techniques are knee strikes and sweeps. However, it also possible to land elbows in the clinch even when your arms are engaged, In fact, you can take advantage of certain clinch positions to trap your opponents arms and create openings for elbow strikes.
Famongkol vs Bpeemai
There are some good examples of sneaky clinch elbows in the April 19th, 2915 Channel 7 Stadium fight between Beemai Jitmuangnon and Famongkol Sor Jor Danrayong.
They are both very large fighters by thai standards, each standing over 6 feet and weighing in at 165lbs. There are few fighters at this weight class competing in Bangkok circuits. They are often matched against foreign fighters in promotions like Thai Fight.
Channel 7 Muay Thai Program
Thai Channel 7 broadcasts a very popular Muay Thai program every Sunday afternoon with some action packed exciting fights. They take place at Chanel 7 Stadium, across from the Chatachuk weekend market, and admission is free of charge. It is certainly worth a visit if you are in Bangkok over a weekend.
Muay Thai Clinch
Some people mistakenly think of the muay thai clinch as a static position consisting only of double collar ties. Many fight fans were first introduced to Muay Thai clinch techniques via Anderson Silva’s fights with Rich Franklin. Silva was able to grab double collar ties and brutally knee Franklin for the finish because he didn’t know to neutralize or escape this clinch grip.
It is actually quite rare to see muay thai fighters achieve and maintain such a dominant clinch position against other opponents skilled in clinch fighting. The clinch is in fact a very dynamic position where the combatants are always fighting for different grips and hand positions. It bears some similarities to pummeling in wrestling.
The clinch is one range of combat where reach and size can be more easily neutralized by superior skill. It is not uncommon to see Thai fighters with a 50lb+ weight disadvantage tying up and rag dolling foreign fighters in the clinch during training.
Hand and Arm Position in the Clinch
Good hand and arm position is key to dominating the clinch. Different grips serve different purposes. Some are used to control or immobilize your opponent and others to set up sweeps or throws. They can also be used to pull your opponent into knees and create openings for elbows.
Famongkol’s preferred hand position in this fight is to cross face his opponent with his right hand. The cross face is an effective tactic to use when your opponent grabs a collar tie grip (hand behind your head). Pushing against his face is one way to prevent him from pulling your head downwards and breaking your posture. With a cross face grip, you can also squeeze your opponent’s arm inwards and effectively immobilize one side of his upper body. By palming Beemai’s face and pushing it to the side, Famongkol obscures his vision, disturbs his balance and potentially obstructs his breathing.
The saying is where the head goes the body follows. If Beemai head is pushed to the side, he’ll have difficulty bringing his weight forward in the clinch. Beemai’s force production is also signficantly reduced when his spine put out of alignment.
Framing and Striking
Famongkol uses the cross face with his right arm as a frame. When striking with the right elbow, he collapses the frame, bends his arm and strikes his opponent with the tip of his elbow. With his arms entangled, Beemai is unable to defend the elbow.
Before striking with the left elbow, Famongkol also cross faces with his right glove. This is to measure distance and keep his opponent in place.
In the finishing sequence Famongkol first lands the right elbow to the temple from the clinch. With Beemai stunned and pinned against the corner, he steps back and measures him for a more powerful slashing left elbow. Famongkol frames with his right glove and follows up with a left uppercut elbow and left horizontal elbow. This coup de grace drops Beemai to the canvas
This knockout was made possible by a sneaky right elbow from the clinch. While the short right elbow alone wasn’t enough to finish Peemai, it gave Famongkol the time and space to land more powerful elbow strikes from close range. This fight highlights how to use a cross face grip to immobilize and strike your opponent and create opportunities for damaging strikes.
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