The Muay Thai Clinch: Flowing from Striking to Grappling

Thriving in the clinch can be very exhausting. This is why it is important to address the different aspects of the clinch with much care. Muay Thai offers numerous techniques that help a fighter not only defend himself in the clinch, but to also push a series of powerful short strikes through the opponent’s defence.

The clinch is covered extensively in Muay Thai, and it takes up a significant amount of time in a Muay Thai training program. This is why this muaythai is considered to be one of the best martial arts to equip a fighter with the necessary skills to dominate in the clinch, beside Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, of course. And instead of focusing on going for a takedown and locks or a choke with a BJJ mindset, the Thais can strike their opponent while in the clinch and still do some serious damage.

Entering the Clinch

Learning how to fight at the right range is an important skill that each fighter has to practice, and through this practices comes the skill of entering the clinch. Working on this skill is extremely beneficial if you have a good clinch game. This way, you will put the fight where you have the most confidence and advantage.

In our Sydney martial arts school, we make sure that every student doing Muay Thai learns the skills and techniques for entering the clinch. This is why we emphasize partner drills and sparring. Only through practice with a real opponent can one learn how to get past kicks, punches and elbows of their opponent.

Practicing transitioning is something that can really help the fighter learn how to move quickly from offence to clinch, how to defend against getting into a clinch and what to do while in the clinch. Another important aspect to address is how to counter an opponent’s escapes from the clinch.

Arm Control

Arm control is incredibly important in the Muay Thai clinch. When you find yourself in a clinch, everything boils down to arm control and battling for position against your opponent. Generally, there are good, bad and neutral positions.

The good one is when you have both of your arms locked around your opponent’s neck, the bad one is vice versa and a neutral one is when both fighters have one hand on each other’s necks. The neutral position is the most common one.

During the clinch, it is extremely important never to lose focus on your opponent’s arms, so that you can avoid those painful elbows. At the same time, you have to fight for position in order to get the opportunity to deliver a few knee strikes.

Knee Strikes in the Clinch

A fighter should go for a knee strike only when he has a strong lock on the opponent and while in a balanced position. Why? If you don’t have a strong lock, you can easily get an elbow and if you are out of balance during a knee strike, you will most definitely get swept by your opponent.

Good arm control is what creates the opportunities for knee strikes. With a good arm lock, you can pull your opponent, take him off balance and deliver powerful kicks through the middle of your opponent’s abdomen. These ones will definitely get you more points than any side knee strike.

Body Position and Balance

By now, you have figured out that the clinch engages the entire body and mind, and that arm control is what provides balance. The entire struggle during the clinch is not to get locked down by the opponent, all while working on your own lock down, making sure not to lose balance.

The key to staying balanced is to take care of your hip position. There are a few elements every fighter has to be focused on: his hips, his opponent’s hips, footwork and position, and weight shifting. For instance, aligning your hips with your opponent’s hips moves your body into a good position, protecting you from getting swept.

Learning how to control your body position and balance is learned through sparring, which is done under professional supervision of our Sydney martial arts instructors.

As you can see, Muay Thai is a martial art that equips the fighter with skills that make them flexible and versatile in different scenarios. If you are interested in Muay Thai training, you can contact us at Integrated Combat Centre, Sydney, and get all your questions answered.

Give our BJJ program a go and experience the improvements to all of these fields. It is considered to be an excellent first style where the skills are easily transferable.


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