Cornermen – The Science of 8’s Primer

By Mike LNg

It was requested by some emails that I delve into cornermen and their roles in regards to Muay Thai. So in answer I have come with a primer I hope will prove useful.

Fight sports by their very nature are a dangerous full contact sport. Points aren’t made on the boards or by the placement of a ball, they’re made by fighters hitting each other to create enough damage to stop or knockout their opponent. The sport of Muay Thai or any combat sport is one of collateral damage. Of course ringcraft and intelligence of a fighter is the most important factor in leading him in and out of fights safely. But adding to this danger above and beyond what occurs in the ring is what occurs in the corner. Too often I have seen instances of inappropriate practices, a lack of training and outright harmful behavior. My intent with this article is to give a primer on some things cornermen can do to keep their fighter in the game and to improve his or her safety.

The cutman is the star player of the corner. He can quickly reduce swelling, stop bleeding and increase a fighter’s ability to defend himself and to stay in the fight longer. A good cutman is a priceless and invaluable ally in the 1 minute he has to operate.

The venerable endswell, fill with water and freeze overnight

The ring can become a quick operating room and although medical staff is on hand at sanctioned fight events remarkably that’s seldom a guarantee they know as more about an open cut than a cutman.

As a cutman goes to work they talk to the fighter and keep him calm. Don’t induce panic in your fighter by your actions or your words. That means don’t yell at him or otherwise act frenzied. A calm corner makes it easier for a fighter to focus at the task he has at hand.

When using medicines such as adrenaline 1/1000th or Avitine use them sparingly. There is no need to over do it. It won’t have the desired effect and it can become messy.

In my experience, the best application is a clean cloth into adrenaline 1/1000 and then apply to the laceration of the cut. This provides pressure at the same time the adrenaline 1/1000 is applied. Both will speed the blood flow stopping. Apply vaseline on the end to seal the laceration. Do not apply so much that it becomes a dripping mess that becomes uncomfortable for the fighter or in the case of cuts above the eye so much that he can’t see. In the past I have seen so much vaseline applied it actually can become a slipping hazard for anyone in the ring.

In the event of a contusion use an endswell correctly. Don’t press and stretch your fighters face trying to get rid of a bruise. Steady pressure in one direction is best. With petroleum jelly applied to the contact spot on an endswell, apply steady pressure and gently push the blood away from the contusion. The reason you coat the bottom of an endswell with petroleum jelly is that it can will stick to a fighter’s flesh because of the cold if it isn’t first coated. Please do not try to muscle the bump away. This is going to harm your fighter more than it will help. It’s not a game of whack-a-mole with an endswell. Be gentle and steady with the pressure applied with an endswell.

The humble cotton swab

In the event of a bloody nose. Clean it with a clean cotton swab end and then apply with Adrenalin 1/1000ths  coated swab. Do not have your fighter blow his nose. Almost invariably blowing his nose will swell up his eye and make a nice easy to hit target when he re-enters the ring.

Learn from example whenever possible if you want to be a good cutman.Work in amateur events and volunteer as bucket boy/girl. Unfortunately being a cutman is not something taught in college classrooms or trade schools. It’s a craft one learns while on the ‘job’.

The lead second in any corner can often be the playmaker in a fighter’s field: the ring. The role of a chief second should be clear but often isn’t.

Here are what I’d regard as the guiding principles for the chief second in the corner:

1. Be relevant and be concise in your instructions. Don’t try to call for activity in such an erudite fashion that no one has a clue about what advice you’re trying to give. You can be inspirational to your fighter without spouting catch phrases like ‘It’s your belt!’ or ‘Kick his ass!’

Clear tactical advice will go a lot farther in helping your fighter perform well than any flavor of cheer leading. There’s a crowd of supporters shouting their belief in your fighter. That’s the role they should have. A cornerman’s role isn’t with the crowd.

2. Know what you’re talking about. This should be a given. But often times I see cornermen give bad advice or someone in the corner gives advice when they shouldn’t. Know your role. If you’re there for cuts, focus on the cuts. If you’re there to hold a bucket, hold the bucket and do it in silence unless the chief second asks an opinion of you. Conflict in the corner raises your fighter’s anxiety and gives him an unfocused feel and can add to his uncertainty.

Know your fighter and give him advice you know he can actually put into effect. I’d agree that it would be great if by encouragement a fighter could fly like a superhero and land 100 consecutive blows without damage but it’s not practical. Instead focus on what you know about your fighter’s strengths and weaknesses are. And give advice that you know he can do. In short be practical in your advice.

3. Don’t act out. There is no need to bang the canvas with both hands WWE style while yelling encouragement from the corner. It doesn’t help and it makes you look bad and in most cases it’s against the rules. In fact there is no reason to touch any part of the ring until its time for you to work in the fighter’s corner.

Be a good sport. There’s no advantage gained from berating an opposing fighter or talking badly to anyone. It divides a corner’s focus and does nothing for your fighter.

The standard disclaimer applies: in no way should this be used as an all-encompassing or a definitive guide but if you’re new to cornering or just want a basic introduction this information should be applicable.  There are many ‘tricks’ of the trade that even I use that aren’t described here.  This is only a primer and should not serve as a launching platform for being experimental with safety during a live fight and thus any additional nuances to cornering are not included. If you have any questions about using these techniques in depth ask a physician.

Thanks for reading.

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~ by fatsoking on April 12, 2010.

2 Responses to “Cornermen – The Science of 8’s Primer”

  1. Excellent read. It’s always sad to me when a fighter feels obligated to one person to corner them (not necessarily the right person) and doesn’t get the person he SHOULD have.

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