One of the most dominant positions in the sport of Muay Thai is the clinch. The clinch is an area of Muay Thai that most resembles grappling, and is an incredible technique for gaining control of your opponent’s head and body while also raining down strikes. With a strong and effective clinch, you can find strikes, dominant angles, and even sweeps, giving you the dominant edge in the ring.
Whether you are new to Muay Thai and just beginning to explore the clinch or you are a long-time Muay Thai athlete looking to grow in your clinch skills, working on improving your clinch will yield great results as you continue to train and grow.
While Muay Thai is quite versatile and can be fought at many various ranges, the clinch is an asset for close-range fighting. If you are looking for information about how to start training the clinch or how to utilize the clinch offensively, keep on reading.
What Is The Clinch?
So, what is the clinch? In Muay Thai, the clinch is a close-range fighting position marked by dominant head control. It encompasses a great deal of movement and techniques from the inside and can be quite versatile in its application. If you’ve never played with the clinch before, here is a simple breakdown of the basics of grabbing a simple, beginner clinch on your partner or opponent:
- While in close range with your partner, reach both hands around their head. Try parrying a straight punch and then swimming your opposite hand inside the neck while following it with your other hand.
- Tighten down your hands by taking away any space between your forearms and your partner’s head. Be sure not to interlace your fingers, but rather stack hand-over-hand or utilize a gable grip.
- Bring your elbows closer together to make your clinch tighter and more difficult for your partner to escape.
- Draw your partner’s head towards your chest, closing off the rest of the space and effectively breaking their posture.
- From this position, you can begin to play with movement, knees, and sweeps.
As you progress in your Muay Thai, you will find that there is a lot of variety to the clinch. You might find yourself using a single hand on the neck instead of both, or a hand might be used to control your opponent’s arm. The clinch can be a really fun place to spar with your partner and explore all of your options from this spot.
Using The Clinch Offensively
Learning how to effectively hold a tight clinch will help you to elevate your Muay Thai game. It’s certainly worth learning and practicing how to use it offensively. Here are four things you can do offensively while holding the clinch:
Knees are incredibly effective and natural to throw while you are holding the clinch on your opponent. You can create strong, powerful strikes with your knees as you pull your opponent’s head down and then drive your rear leg forward into your opponent’s ribs. Depending on how you are securing your partner, try throwing knees both up the middle or around the side to the outside ribs.
For more advanced practitioners who are comfortable playing with the clinch already, elbows are an excellent strike to add to the clinch. As an advanced practitioner, consider keeping control of your opponent by utilizing only one hand instead of two. By releasing one hand from the head, you allow yourself to pull your opponent into a close-range elbow strike. Be sure to wear pads and keep your partner safe during training.
3) Movement And Angles
The clinch is an ideal way to move your opponent and release them at an angle that serves your best interest. The release of the clinch offers a quick opportunity to land powerful shots, including kicks, on your opponent. Use your dominant clinch to create the movement you need to set up your next strikes.
Try capitalizing on your movement from throwing knees to pulling, pushing, or whipping your partner to a new space. Keeping them moving and constantly catching their balance will keep them from being able to adequately defend against your clinch.
Many great sweeps can be used from the clinch. Utilizing your leverage on the head in conjunction with your feet to instigate the sweep will land your opponent on the ground and will help you to maintain ring dominance and control.
Regardless of how you choose to utilize the clinch, you will find that it is incredibly dominant once you snag it up. Don’t be afraid to play and explore. Finding a great partner to playfully explore all of your options for the clinch is an ideal way to practice the clinch while not making your neck too sore or taking on too much damage due to mistakes.
When To Use The Clinch
The clinch is an ideal fighting tool to use while you are in close range. By snatching up a clinch, you can effectively shut down your opponent’s powerful strikes and change the direction of the match by displaying dominant control over your opponent. Try using the clinch at these times:
- Heavy Pressure: When the opponent is heavily pressuring you, try finding an opening to sink in the clinch and stop their forward pressure and heavy strikes.
- Close Range Fighter: If you are up against someone who generally likes to hang out at close range, consider finding the clinch to dominate the space or even to move your opponent to a further range more suitable for kicks.
- Reversals: If you are fighting an opponent who is putting you in the clinch regularly, try reversing the clinch and beating them at their own game. It takes some work to get good at reversing the clinch, but it is an important aspect of Muay Thai that you should also master.
Regardless of when you choose to use the clinch, be sure to maintain your posture while landing powerful strikes or sweeps on your opponent.
Using The Clinch In Muay Thai
Learning how to utilize the clinch and the clinch range in Muay Thai is an important piece of your Muay Thai game. Be sure to explore this position playfully with a good partner, and find all the ways it can help you dominate the ring. It can truly be a fun area to spar and explore and is such an important position to understand both offensively and defensively. Be sure to add practicing the clinch to your weekly training, and begin applying it to your matches when you spar and train.
If you are looking to level up your clinch knowledge, consider Evolve University’s Muay Thai Clinch Master Course, an in-depth online video Master Course taught by legendary Muay Thai World Champions!
No detail is spared as Evolve MMA’s Muay Thai World Champions break down the fundamental aspects of the Muay Thai clinch. Structured and taught in a systemized way that will allow students to build their clinch game piece by piece, the Muay Thai Clinch Master Course is organized by position, covering the four main clinch positions — double inside, double outside, single collar neck tie, and double collar neck tie. Learn the vital details behind positional control, elbows, knees, sweeps, transitions, pulls, and defense in the clinch.
Whether you’re learning how to clinch for the first time and are looking to develop a strong foundation to build upon or are a seasoned practitioner with years of experience needing to refine your technique, fix bad habits, or add to your toolbox, this Master Course is for you.
Packed with over 8 hours of on-demand video content structured into 28 instructional chapters, Evolve University’s Muay Thai Clinch Master Course is the ultimate guide to learning the Muay Thai clinch.