"So You Wanna Knee Like a Thai?" Part 1 - Anchoring
From Coach Jason Webster, a multi-part series on clinch & knee fighting.
- Part 1 - Anchoring
- Part 2 - Generating Power
- Part 3 - Forward Intent
- Part 4 - Engaging with Forward Pressure
- Part 5 - Negative Pressure
With fights just weeks away I thought I would repay your diligence in working the clinch in class with giving you some 'keys to success.' As always I tend toward the philosophic but that's mainly because after awhile (decades) one begins to distill teachings. Another way to think of that is that I've screwed it up enough to have created a reliable roadmap.
Frankly, guys I'm giving you the keys to the kingdom here. What follows is the Muay Thai equivalent of Covey's '7 habits' or Hill's 'Win friends and influence people.' If you can latch onto these principles (I know, a 'dad joke' level pun...) they will literally guide you in your clinch efforts. Whilst in the throes of knockin' the bejabbers out of your classmates it may be hard to be objective about these, but over time they will allow both self-correcting technique as well as a Muay Thai Rosetta Stone as you watch authentic Muay Thai fights. They are simple and comprehensive. But 'simple' does not mean easy
As Les Grossman allowed in 'Tropic Thunder': "He's a white dwarf headed for a black hole...That's physics."
Your opponent is your anchor. This really is Physics 101. How can you hope to launch your bodyweight through your knee if you are not anchored? If I'm pulling against your neck (and/or shoulders) WHILE you are coming toward me how does my bodyweight come into play? It can't. I need to anchor off of your body. That's what all that twisting and turning is in the clinch; it's planting the opponent and anchoring off his bodyweight one he or she is 'rooted.' (Technically that's the point you will hear me call the 'terminus' of the opponent's movement in any give direction.)
Most of the clinching I see in class completely misses this key element. Even worse, a number of you *try* to adopt this principal but in ineffective ways. Methods such as pulling on the opponent's forearms for leverage (...or something) or pulling the opponent straight toward you as you travel backward. Honestly, have these worked for you guys? The beauty of Muay Thai techniques is that their raw power and ferocity can be 'gotten' the instant that they land properly. Contrast that with a newcomer's tepid kick on the Thai pads. After some practice (and thousands of repetitions) when they begin to land with authority, they know it. I've mock-kicked several of you -- slowly, non-explosively -- so you understand some of the dynamics of weight transfer. I don't need to ask (anymore) how it feels. Even slow and non-explosive your furrowed eyebrows and pencil thin pursed lips say it all (and warm my heart too if you must know). The knee is identical.
Watch and study this short video of the Nok Muay practicing knees on the heavy bag. He is anchoring off the bag's weight (and chains to be precise).
If you want to think of it in a cycle, maybe consider this set of movements:
- Fighter throws his leg almost straight backward while holding the 'neck' of the bag.
- The reverse motion of the fighter's leg creates the force to pull the bag toward the fighter.
- The resistance in the bag to that pulling motion gives the fighter the anchor to launch the leg/knee from the rear position.
- ~ Rinse and repeat.
After you've watched yourself into bemusement, check out this highlight reel featuring Langsuan Phanumpathom (if you're lost on who he is you'll have to check out my earlier blog post about him). He's such a craftsman it may be hard to fully sort out what I'm saying in relation to his fighting style - he not only mixes and matches a dizzying array of knee techniques, ranges and strategies, he is fully 'conversant' in punches, kicks and elbows too! (A rarity.) Pay close attention (i.e., slow the vid down) to the times when he has his opponent in a full clinch. He is continually moving them to positions they don't want to be in (anchoring) and each successive knee is simply another instance of moving them to an anchor point...so they can be kneed again!
This type of attack is truly fearsome once it gets going. It's juggernaut-like forward aggression can really only be adequately met by a like force (that is, a blood-and-Guts stand).
(NEXT POST...What you must do to generate power in your knees.)