By J.M. Phelps
Incapacitating elbow strikes helped an Australian fighter become one of the most recognizable Westerners to ever compete in Muay Thai, and one of the most dangerous fighters of all time.
Photo credit: nathan-corbett.com
Nathan “Carnage” Corbett collected 11 world title belts between 2003 and 2013. “The man with the golden elbows” dominated light heavyweight, cruiserweight, and heavyweight divisions for an entire decade. In 65 fights, he knocked out 44 opponents and accumulated 59 victories. Today, the world renowned, well-respected Australian fighter is a highly sought after trainer who currently resides on the west coast of the United States.
Corbett reveals that he became “more conscious” of elbows as a teenager while cross-training both Karate and Muay Thai. While watching Thai fights in the nineties, he discovered that elbows were “a vicious weapon” of choice used by many of the fighters of the era. The seed was planted early and as Corbett drew nearer to the pursuit of Muay Thai, it simply made sense to make use of the weapon. For him, elbows were “gnarly” and he became obsessed by their “power and devastation.”
Corbett admits he was not as flexible as many of the other fighters he faced through the years, considering himself “a good kicker, not a fancy kicker.” As a result, the former world champion was even further compelled to utilize what he called “a war machine weapon,” often making the conscious effort to step into close range past his opponent’s kicks, punches, and knees.
Despite the allure of elbow strikes, Corbett refused to ignore other parts of the Muay Thai eight limb arsenal. “I never really hyper fixated on elbows, but trained every part of the game, [including] hands, knees, and kicks,” he notes. “While elbows worked well for me because I often had them disguised in my other techniques, [Muay Thai] is an all-around game.”
“Shadow boxing, running, skipping [rope], and weight training are all important, because when you watch a fight, you’ll see all those things working [to the benefit of a fighter].”
With that said, Corbett also recognizes each fighter often has a different strength. “It’s easy to become fixated on your natural strengths, and [fighters] will gravitate toward their strengths,” he admits. “If you’re flexible and you’ve got really good kicks, then you’ll gravitate toward kicks because that’s your talent.”
“As your talent floats to the surface, it creates a dominant side to your fighting and that’s okay,” Corbett points out. “For you, it might be your hands, your knees, clinching, or something else.”
According to him, the dominant weapon should function at 100 percent while the others should reach at least 80 percent. “Even up as many weapons as you can, and work harder than the next man, because that’s how you stay on the path of becoming a great fighter,” concludes Carnage.
Video credit: Muay Thai Scholar