Ambush Muay Thai blog elaborates on topics from class with articles, videos, and discussion.

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"So You Wanna Knee Like a Thai?" Part 3 - Forward Pressure

From Coach Jason Webster, a multi-part series on clinch & knee fighting.

  1. Part 1 - Anchoring
  2. Part 2 - Generating Power
  3. Part 3 - Forward Intent
  4. Part 4 - Engaging with Forward Pressure
  5. Part 5 - Negative Pressure

Ambush warriors. Congratulations on your awesome appropriation of material I've shared. Already your clinch work and knees show marked improvement. But in the spirit of full disclosure, I guiltily admit that I may have left out one small thing: how to make those techniques work.  But before you break out the tar and feathers, youngbloods, allow me a moment to explain.

One doesn't wade into "Swan Lake" without knowing how to plie. And as recently demonstrated by the New England Patriots Super Bowls are still won on basic blocking and tackling. Bottom line: as ardently as you might desire atomizing your opponent's intestines with your knee-gone-bad flurry, your will and conditioning are not enough. You need proper technique. Hence the previous two things you gotta "get," the base substance you must catch-on conceptually in order to hone your physical techniques.

And now that that has burrowed itself into your fighting psyche it's time for the punchline; the thing that all that other stuff is in service of -- the activating principle. It is the how of integrating anchoring and positioning so your clinch can become as feared and efficacious as the Thais.

Overriding Principle: The one thing you must DO, bar none: Seek out the clinch.

Now before you break open that pillow case and ready the bubbling tar for your humble blogger claiming i'm just telling you the obvious, consider a couple of things...hell, start by considering just one thing: in your Muay Thai practice, your padwork, your sparring, even your shadowboxing, do you honestly and consistently "close"? Clinching in Muay Thai isn't so much about finding the opportunity to reach out, grab the opponent and launch a knee salvo as much as it is "letting the knee go" because you're already there positionally.

In the next two installments of this multi-part post I will detail how a fighter seeks out the clinch. But before I even do that, we have to widen the optic a bit and focus here on what will drive those technical maneuvers. This core prerequisite --forward intent -- is central to all Muay Thai movements but without it the clinch degrades into a hugging match. To illustrate forward intent and forward pressure study the following videos.  To narrow the focus, just pay attention to the fighter's body english just AFTER he finishes each technique. Notice the Thai fighters end up almost leaning into the trainer's pads at the completion of most combinations, whether punches, kicks, knees or elbows. Rarely does the fighter let off and simply step back. He is without fail poised forward. Compare that with the footage of western Muay Thai stylists.  Jake Lund for instance is an excellent fighter and has some very solid techniques. But pay attention to his energy, his interaction with the trainer and trainer's pads just after his strikes land. Can you discern a difference in that pattern of forward intent I'm calling out? I've specifically chosen foreign fighters working with Thai trainers to illustrate the difference.

Thai fighters on pads:

Foreign Muay Thai stylists on pads:

Hopefully you can begin to see what I'm referencing when I say 'forward pressure.' It's not something simply for the ring when you're stalking an opponent.  It's a mindset that pervades the Thai martial arts and is a key ingredient in what I refer to as the 'engineering' behind the movements. I don't know how many of you may have had or ridden a motorcycle that was modeled on a racing prototype but they ride pretty klunky at RPM bands many other motorcycles cruise comfortably at.  But get them in their proper (i.e., much higher) RPM bands and they come to life in almost supernatural ways. Muay Thai isn't designed for sorties into the danger zone; it capitalizes on mounting and continuing an attack from within it. The forward pressure you see depicted on the pads must become second nature in every facet of your Muay Thai practice.

(NEXT POST...The first of two main methods to engage the clinch.)