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How To Use Muay Thai Kickboxing’s “Clinch” For Success

By March 14, 2013 June 27th, 2018 No Comments

Muay Thai Kickboxing is known for a lot of great techniques but the one area it’s really known for is what we call the clinch position.

The clinch comes into play when you get one or both hands around the persons neck/head and pull them down. Then you would do stuff like knee, elbow and so on.

Below is a youtube video showing the clinch and some basics. It features my Muay Thai instructor, Kru Jose Villarisco.

Kru Jose is hands down the best guy with the clinch, at least that I’ve ever worked with.

Check out the videos below. The first one is of Kru Jose and the second has me teaching the clinch. These videos will give you a far better idea of what I’m talking about.

You see what I mean right? Okay cool. Now let’s talk about the clinch and get a better understanding of how it’s used and whatnot.

So why even bother learning the clinch? What’s in it for me?

Well, for starters you would be much more dangerous in a real fight. That and working on the clinch is a heck of a good workout. It’s win-win.

I think that anyone who’s truly interested in street self defense should know at least a few basic techniques from the clinch.

You need to know this position for both offense and defense. The last thing you want is a good fighter putting you in the clinch and kneeing you in the face, no cool!

Oh and let me tell you this… A good knee from the clinch will put someone down FAST. Knees are some of the most effective and brutally painful techniques you can use.

The worst shot I ever took in my life was a knee from my teacher Jose.

He perry-ed my right cross and off the perry threw a straight knee right into my gut…my god I thought I was going to die.

I did however stay standing (Thankfully) but man, I’ll never forget that one!

I’ll take a punch to the face any day over a knee to the body. Yea, it’s really that painful.

So what are some of the set ups for getting a hold of the clinch? I mean come on, you’ve gotta get to the clinch first before you do anything.

Below is a short list of 3 different clinch entries:

  1. Jab and 1-2 your way to the inside
  2. Slip/perry the 1-2, grab the head
  3. Catching the round/push kick and going right up to the head

After you get the clinch you want to be looking for a number of different things. Knees, elbows and short punches like the uppercut should be first on the list.

Remember also that when you get the clinch you need to be moving the opponent around and keeping them off balance.

You’ve gotta be able to move them and attack at or around the same time.

What about the clinch when there’s takedowns involved like in Mixed Martial Arts (MMA)?

The clinch is still the clinch, MMA or takedowns included. This doesn’t change anything.

It’s just that with MMA you’ve got to watch out more for the takedowns. Other then that it’s the same techniques. Being aware of the takedowns is half the battle.

If you really wanna see great clinch work in events like the UFC then look no further then Anderson Silva, current MMA kingpin. His highlight video is below.

We also have a few really good fighters here at Ivey League that use the clinch well. Names like Ryan “Cungle” Bassard and Jayna Fenton come to mind. Both are really good with the clinch.

How do you get better with the clinch? How do you learn it?

Step one here is having a good teacher and academy. Good Muay Thai is hard to find so you might have to look around.

We specialize in Muay Thai here at my academy in Annapolis. So if you live here consider yourself lucky and come take some classes with us 🙂

You need to learn different attacks and techniques, then drill them like crazy. Over time you’ll find what works for you and you’ll stick to that.

Below is a list of major attacks you can use when you get the clinch:

  • Straight and curve knees (Most common)
  • Elbows coming from up, down and the side
  • Throws and spins
  • Biting the guys nose off (joking!)
  • Uppercuts through the middle

Those techniques plus lots of drills. Drills like neck wrestling and pummeling should be the standard and used in most of your classes or workout sessions.

Being able to do something like pummel for inside position is a huge advantage indeed and will aid your clinch training ten fold.

Don’t forget to work your techniques when the opponent gets out or you let them out of the clinch.

Nothing says don’t mess with me like landing a solid low round kick right out of the clinch. That’s like the icing on the cake!

I could talk for days about the clinch but at this point I’m sure you get the point. Below I included some great videos, all focused on the clinch.

If you watch them then I’ll call you a wise man/woman. If not then not so wise! Study, take notes, drill….LEARN.

That’s all for today.

–Coach Danny Ives

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