Tip of the Week: Options for The Clinch

How’s it going? I’m Coach Vince Salvador from the Arena.

I’m Coach Charles Martinez. We’re here to discuss some options for the clinch different than what you may have seen before. We’ll start here.

A lot of times in the clinch, the basic rule for the clinch is to have my hips close to his hips. People say cup to cup or belt to belt. If I’m out here in a clinch, I’m gonna get kneed all day. It’s easier to snap my head down if this is MMA. If I see my feet in the clinch, I’m probably gonna see a knee in my face, as well. I need to bring my hips in and I need to trap the inside of his biceps. When I do that, it prevents him from being able to grab me. It prevents him from hitting me, punching me, throwing elbows.

Also, if he tries to throw a knee, I have a steering wheel. The steering wheel is what I’m gonna use to open up the space for me to land my shots. If I’m controlling the bicep here and I wanna make some space, I’m gonna use my inner thigh and my steering wheel to open up one side. If you come around to this side, you can see it on this side. We’re hip to hip. I have no space. I cannot knee from here so I need to make some space.

What I’m gonna do is I’m gonna get his weight to this side so this leg is light. The way I do that is with the steering wheel. I can use this grip, this grip, either/or. It’s really a preference thing. I like this grip. This is gonna make it easy for me to bring his head down. For me to do that, I distract him with a knee. Then his weight goes here. I pull where my inner thigh is gonna meet the inner thigh of his inner thigh to open up his body.

I’ve already opened up that side with my elbow lifting. Now my left knee just comes up and right back down. When I land that, I don’t wanna leave it there too long, ’cause he might grab it. If it’s MMA, I’m going on my back. It’s quick and down. If he does grab it, I can still kick my leg down, throw an elbow to attack on that same side, but as long as I have the bicep I’ll be strong here.

Often times, when you’re taught this, everyone’s taught to clench the head right away. That means that you’ve gotten past all these other phases of pummeling and clench. A lot of times here, this happens in the pummel. He goes to swing his hands inside. If I reach for the head and I’m strong, he has a hard time breaking this off but he swings his hand to the inside, he can use the bicep to start to clear that grip. If he swings his hand to the inside to the collar tie, when I clear the bicep, I also use leverage in my body and I try and establish that inside control.

If you want to think about it from an MMA perspective versus a Muay Thai perspective, when I’m controlling the biceps, he reaches in, tries to grab it under hook, I’m already in contact. If he tries to try and run his body that way, I’m able to start wizzering hard on that side and I’m already in contact versus being up here where it makes it easier for him to kind of bump and establish this good hard under-hook that he’s really looking for.

So close, head in, and then I’m able to start advancing to a better clench from here to deliver the unbalances, knees, elbows and I’m able to be attached to him to prevent these take-downs.

That’s your tip of the week.

The World’s Best Muay Thai Fighters

Along with martial arts such as Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and Judo, the combat sport of Muay Thai is an essential training component for anyone wanting to become a mixed martial arts fighter. However, on its own, this is a popular sport worldwide, especially in Thailand where the sport developed over the centuries. It was an excellent form of combat using eight specific areas of the body to attack and defend. These eight points are the elbows and knees, as well as the hands or fists and the feet. There have been many excellent Muay Thai practitioners throughout the year including the following.

Nai Khanomtom, while not a modern fighter, deserves a mention because his story is the stuff of legends. Khanomtom was captured by the King of Burma in the late 18th century and ordered to fight the Burmese’s top champion boxer. Using his Muay Thai skills, Khanomtom quickly overcame his opponent. Disbelieving of this feat, the king ordered Khanomtom to fight nine more champions and he handily defeated all of them. As a reward, he received his freedom and a few wives as well. His accomplishment is celebrated each year in Thailand on March 17, which is called either Boxer’s Day or Muay Boran Day, in deference to the earliest form of the sport.

Heading into more modern times, one should consider the accomplishments of Apidej Sit-Hirun who held seven Muay Thai titles at one time and was a highly prominent fighter during the 1960s. His kicks were so powerful that he once broke both of the arms of an opponent during a bout and ended his opponent’s career. The current King of Thailand named him as the Fighter of the Century, and after he retired, he became one of the sport’s top instructors.

In Thailand, winning a bout at the Lumpinee Boxing Stadium is like winning a gold medal, the UFC heavyweight championship and about five other championships all rolled into one. This stadium is absolutely the symbol of the sport of Muay Thai, and to win here once is a huge accomplishment. Of course, if you are Samart Payakaroon, winning once wasn’t enough. He was the champion at Lumpinee Stadium in not one, but four different weight classes. Overall, his career included 150 professional bouts, and only 19 of these were losses. Oh, he’s also a famous singer in Thailand and an actor with more than a half-dozen movies to his credit.

If Lumpinee is Madison Square Garden, the Rajadamnern Stadium is its twin brother. A win at either of these prominent Muay Thai stadiums is akin to winning a major bout in the UFC. Jomhod Kiatadisak has won at both of these arenas and in two different weight classes; he’s also been crowned victor 14 times at the WBC Muay Thai Championships. With more than 300 fights in all, Kiatadisak the “King of the Ring,” has lost only 24 of them, which is impressive all by itself.

There are many more examples of amazing Muay Thai fighters, and there are certainly some great MMA fighters who are highly skilled in Muay Thai. One of the best is Anderson Silva, who holds the equivalent of a black belt in Muay Thai, along with his many other black belts in Judo, Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and Tae Kwon Do. Fabricio Werdum and Cristiane Santos are a few other notable MMA fighters with strong Muay Thai skills.

Fight Better With A Balanced Approached To MMA

MMA Balanced Approach

If you switch from a single sport, such as wrestling or Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu to the world of MMA, you probably quickly realized that relying on one single skill set is not going to further your career. While adding Muay Thai or Boxing to your main skill is an excellent idea, it might be even better to expand your training to include four or more different fighting styles. Here are just a few of the fighting styles all MMA fighters should have in their arsenal.

If you have never taken Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu classes, this is something that definitely should be added to your to-do list. This martial art is an excellent method to study because it focuses on grappling and ground fighting. With strong Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu skills, you can often overwhelm a larger opponent, bring them down to the ground and even the playing field a bit.

To improve your defensive skills, consider adding Judo to your program. Judo is similar to Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, and BJJ, in fact, was derived from the ancient combat art of Kodokan Judo. Judo, unlike Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, focuses on fighting in a standing position rather than forcing your opponent on the ground. The main advantage of studying Judo is that it can act as a strong defense against an opponent who is trying to wrestle you to the ground and apply submission holds.

While you cannot rely solely on boxing skills during an MMA fight, it is still a very important part of training. Boxers not only learn the best techniques for throwing a punch, they also learn how to take a hit and block hits. In addition, when training for a fight, boxing classes can improve your footwork and improve your conditioning overall. Boxing also can be incorporated easily into your MMA skill set and used in combination with Muay Thai and kickboxing.

In additional to traditional western boxing, learning Muay Thai skills is also important for your MMA arsenal. In Muay Thai, you will learn dozens of strikes involving the knees, elbows and hands, as well as several different types of foot thrusts or jabs. In this way, Muay Thai serves as an excellent defensive weapon, but you will also find that many fights that end in TKO were due to Muay Thai-style kicks and strikes.

So when you decide to get really serious about MMA and select a gym that specializes in mixed martial arts, spend some time researching your local gyms. A good gym will have a monthly fee that includes gym use as well as unlimited classes in multiple styles of fighting. In addition, a great gym will hire instructors that have been or currently are professional MMA fighters.

Going Pro In MMA: The Path To Success

MMA Success - The Arena

Dedication, strength and determination are essentials for success in mixed martial arts in San Diego. If you hope to become a professional MMA fighter, you can’t fight unless you are completely committed to the sport. Taking your skills to pro level is not something to be taken lightly, and you will need to consider the following before you begin training.


You cannot become pro by simply taking a few classes and training alone. You need to find the best possible MMA gym in your area that can teach you how to join the MMA. The gym needs to be staffed with instructors that have fought professionally so that you can benefit from their expertise and experience. Find a gym that offers classes in multiple fighting styles, as well. Leaning on just one main fighting technique won’t get you to a pro level.


You will need to be proficient in multiple styles of fighting; otherwise you will be unsuccessful in even lower level pro bouts. The best fighters excel in a range of skills, including boxing, jiu-jitsu, Muay Thai and wrestling. Not only do you need to work on each of these individual skills sets, you also need to be able to take those skills and combine them to create a strong game plan for your fights.


In addition, you need to improve your overall health through strength training and conditioning, as well as diet. Professional MMA fighters are in the gym for as many as five or six hours a day and six days a week. Your body will have to work up to this level, but it gives you some idea of the commitment that is necessary to fight on a professional level.


Your trainers and instructors will have the best opinion about when you are ready to begin fighting competitively. This is why it is important to find a quality MMA gym with instructors who have that professional experience. Not only can they help guide your training, they can assist you in preparing for your first fight. They also know where the fights are in your area and weight class. Be sure to select a gym that offers in-house fight management. That way, you know they are serious about helping members who want a career in MMA.


Obviously you want be headlining any major shows right out of the gate; however, you need to expect to compete in small show MMA. If you are lucky enough to win, your purse will be small, perhaps $500. Most fighters will tell you that the money is not the reason they fight, they love the fight itself. That first moment you are facing a real opponent in a pro bout can be terrifying, but most fighters have shared that it was also one of the best experiences of their lives. If you choose to make MMA your life, be prepared to work hard and be prepared for injuries. They are part of the deal.


If you are looking to improve your mixed martial art skills, we invite you to visit us. The Arena is the leading Gym in North America for Combat Sports and Martial Arts instruction. We are considered one of the best Muay Thai gyms in San Diego, as well as having the top boxing, kickboxing and Jiu Jitsu classes available. Sign up for your free membership trial today!

The Components Of Your MMA Training

Components of MMA

MMA training is serious business, and in order to become successful, it is imperative that you find a professional gym that offers a myriad of training options. You need to become skilled in multiple fighting styles, training with experts in each of the main components of mixed martial arts.

Balanced MMA training should include taking some boxing classes. Boxing, which is one of the oldest forms of martial arts, accelerates your MMA game by helping improve hand striking skills and improving your overall conditioning. It wouldn’t be wise to depend solely on your boxing skills during a fight, but you will be a better fighter after taking some boxing classes. Clearly being able to throw an opponent to the ground is a huge skill in MMA, and there are many forms of training that will allow you to improve that skill.

Wrestling is one of the world’s most ancient sports, and it is a huge component of mixed martial arts. Greco-Roman wrestling dates back to the earliest Olympic games, and these skills are still used today. These ancient fighting techniques can help you overcome a larger opponent. A good gym will teach the fundamentals as well as a variety of wrestling skills, such as freestyle, grappling, beach, Sambo and Greco-Roman.

Muay Thai is another component of your MMA training. Originating in Thailand, Muay Thai is a combat sport that is also known as the Art of Eight Limbs. This is because it utilizes kicking, punching, elbow strikes and knee strikes, with a total of eight different points of contact. While it might sound complex, Muay Thai can be fairly easy to learn and is very effective during fights, which is why so many MMA fighters use Muay Thai techniques.

Another popular component of MMA is Jiu Jitsu, particularly the Brazilian Jiu Jitsu perfected by the famous Gracie family. Jiu Jitsu is particularly important in MMA because the skills help fighters improve their ability to force an opponent down. While wrestling and many martial arts emphasis quick takedowns, Jiu Jitsu incorporates a variety of grappling strategies.

Conditioning and strength training classes are another key part of MMA training. Staying healthy and building strength will help you maximize your MMA techniques. Find an MMA gym that offers condition and strength classes that can be tailored to fit your needs.

Finding a gym that caters to the total fighter is key. Be sure to choose a training facility that is serious about MMA, thus taking you from beginning levels all the way to competitive fighting.

Thailand’s Combat Sport: Muay Thai

Thailand's Combat Sport: Muay Thai

In these modern times, martial arts are more a form of exercise, a type of self defense and a sporting event. These ancient combat arts, however, were created to help soldiers in battle. Muay Thai, now such a staple of mixed martial arts fighting, was created for use on the battlefield.

Muay Thai is an effective fighting skill in mixed martial arts because it combines both striking and clinching techniques. This versatile fighting art utilizes punching and kicking, as well as knee and elbow strikes. Because of the variety of skills used in Muay Thai fighting, it is effective now as an MMA technique and was effective in ancient times on the battlefield.

In its most ancient form, Muay Thai was known as muay boran. This art was an excellent battlefield defense. When a soldier lost his weapon, he would use muay boran fighting instead. This was sometimes even more deadly than a conventional weapon.

Eventually muay boran became what is now known as Muay Thai. By the 1500s, Siamese soldiers were all trained with muay boran or Muay Thai skills. Muay Thai was even a recognized way to settle political disagreements or settle other national issues.

After the 1767 battle of Ayutthaya, Burmese soldiers captured this ancient Siamese capital and rounded up thousands of Thai soldiers. During a Burmese festival, the king decided to have one of these Thai prisoners use Muay Thai in a fight against Burmese fighters who would use the Burmese martial art of lethwei. The Thai fighter, Nai Khnanomtom, began his fight with a dance to honor his ancestors. After Nai Khanomtom handily defeated the Burmese fighter, the King declared the match invalid because he thought the pre-fight dance was black magic and distracted the Burmese fighter. So he paired the Thai fighter up against nine more seasoned Burmese fighters. Nai Khanomtom easily defeated all of these fighters, and this incident is a huge part of Thai martial arts folklore.

As might be expected, Thailand’s kings were often huge proponents of Muay Thai. During his short, but peaceful rule in the early 18th Century, King Pra Chao Sua insisted that all soldiers be trained in Muay Thai. He would even sneak out of his palace and take part in Muay Thai bouts secretly, often beating popular local opponents. King Rama V was another monarch that enjoyed Muay Thai. Those fighters who won royal bouts were given military titles as their prize. Following him, King Rama VI was the first leader to propose that rules and some safety requirements be put into place, as deaths were fairly common. Referees, gloves and foot coverlets were added as safety measures during this time.

With its versatility, Muay Thai gained popularity worldwide and then found a huge place in the MMA arena. Today many seasoned MMA fighters, including champions such as Muaricio Rua and Cristiane Santos, utilize Muay Thai fighting skills in their bouts with great success.

What You Need To Know About Weight Cutting


From the time of a weigh-in to the moment the fight begins, you will often see many fighters go through a tremendous physical transformation. Within a 24 to 30-hour period, they can lose and gain as much as 10 pounds or more, which can be a huge advantage during the fight. While weight cutting is a typical part of many fighters’ game plans, it can be dangerous. Thoughtful, careful weight cutting can reduce the impact this process has on a fighter’s body.

The dangers of weight cutting include damage to the organ systems of the body, particularly the kidneys. In addition, severe weight cutting can increase the risk of injury.

“If you cut too much weight, you can tax the organs,” explains Jeff Clark, an MMA coach and manager at The Arena in San Diego, California. “The other main problem is that you can lose too much fluid around the brain. This can cause some trauma and make you more susceptible to knock outs.”

In general, it is smart to start thinking about weight cutting about four to six weeks prior to the fight. Your goal is to get as close to the weight limit as possible, to give yourself more space to bulk up after the weigh-in. This means that a fighter typically should be about 7 to 12 pounds higher than fight weight a week prior to the weigh-in date. The best way to get to this point is with a combination of heavy training and eating a healthy and balanced diet that is low in fat.

When you do reach that crucial 7-day mark, the more extreme side of weight cuts begins. One way many fighters begin is by drinking only distilled water. This throws off your body’s PH balance and allows you to quickly remove water from your system. The night before the weigh-in, cut all water and head to the sauna as this will help you quickly strip off the water weight.

After weigh-in, you will have maybe 30 hours at the most to put weight back on rapidly. The safest way to do this is to eat healthy foods, especially fruit and complex carbohydrates. As far as hydration goes, drink small and steady amounts of water, coconut water and electrolyte drinks such as Pedialyte.

3 Main MMA Fighting Styles: Striking, Jiu Jitsu, and Wrestling

3 Main MMA Styles

The value of being an MMA fighter is the diverse tool box of moves, styles, and ideologies you have at your disposal to dominate and defeat your opponent. When you watch a master fighter at his craft, he will blend different styles together seamlessly into one continuous and powerful movement, making it look effortless and unexpectedly graceful. Yet understanding the three main MMA fighting styles are the building blocks that every fighter needs to grasp completely in order to reach this level of artistry. Read on to learn more about striking, jiu jitsu, and wrestling to elevate your game and continue to reach for mastery of this incredible sport.


When it comes to striking, you really should watch Lyoto Machida versus Rashad Evans at UFC 98 to witness this style at its best. Machida’s precision and combinations reached a level of achievement that appeared so perfect as to be closer to something you would see in a video game, not in real life. Striking combines two goals during a fight: to wear your opponent down and to knock them out.

The good news is that striking is fairly easy to integrate into your current technique because the stance and posture required are the ones that you come out of your corner with: head low, hands up, and feet shoulder width apart. The variety of jabs available to the striker, from the cross to the always dramatic uppercut, give you a wide range of choices to keep your opponent guessing and help you surprise him when he isn’t looking with a carefully placed fake. Striking is a must for all serious MMA fighters, and something we teach heavily in our Mixed Martial Arts San Diego classes.

Jiu Jitsu

Since the first Gracie stepped into the ring and whipped out their unparalleled jiu jitsu technique, this fighting style has been a staple of all successful mixed martial artist’s playbook.

Focusing on grappling and ground fighting, jiu jitsu techniques provide fail-proof ways to dominate and submit your opponent. From a variety of full control mounts to chokeholds, the skilled jiu jitsu fighter has a dangerous skill set at his disposal to claim victory over the largest and most intimidating opponent.


Just about every big name in MMA has a solid wrestling background.


Because the unique combination of throws, takedowns, mounts, pins, and clinches makes it a veritable Cliff’s Notes on how to earn a victory, by skill or by brute force. Randy Couture, Chuck Liddell, Dan Henderson, Rashad Evans, and Brandon Vera use wrestling as a cornerstone of their ground game, just to name a few. And of course, the man who built his MMA career on his wrestling skills, Matt Hughes, provides great examples of how integral wrestling is to a successful game strategy.

Yet while all of these styles individually have their strengths and benefits to a fighter’s game, overall success and victory only comes from integrating all three together to create a strategy that is multifaceted and technically strong. Truly great mixed martial artists, like Anderson Silva, prove time and time that the only way to ensure a fool-proof victory strategy and a reputation as a feared opponent is to be well rounded in all of these incredible fighting styles. Identify which you need to polish, and then use it to up your game and take it to the next level.

San Diego Muay Thai Master Kru Mark is New Star of StrikeandSubmit.com

Head Muay Thai Instructor for San Diego based MMA gym “The Arena”, will be featured in StrikeandSubmit.com’s upcoming online video tutorials as the Muay Thai video instructor. Asked to star in this series due to his long-standing recognition in San Diego as a true Muay Thai master, Kru Mark demonstrated numerous techniques on camera for the upcoming video series including his trademark elbow and knee techniques.


Kru Mark, whose formal name is Boungnaphonh Makthepharaks, is a Master Muay Thai Instructor with 50 years of Muay Thai experience. He started his Muay Thai training in 1959 at the age of 6 under his father, 4-star General Bounpone Makthepharaks, the former Commander-in-Chief of the Laotian army. Kru Mark’s style of Muay Thai has been passed down from father to son for five generations. His fighting system, called DETH KO SIN, draws from ancient Muay Thai combat techniques that were used in hand to hand fighting during battle.


Kru Mark has a fascinating history. Like his father, Kru Mark also served in the military, operating with the U.S. Special Forces in Vietnam, until his capture in the spring of 1975 by communists. After being held for six months in a POW camp, Kru Mark escaped and then emigrated to the U.S. Since then, he has spent the past 30 plus years competing (he was a Muay Thai World Champion), teaching, and coaching.

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