For the newcomers, It may not be immediately apparent why the clinch is such a crucial aspect of this sport.
The Muay Thai clinch is what distinguishes this martial art from other striking disciplines. In sports like boxing and kickboxing, fighters may grab their opponents briefly for defense or to catch their breath before being separated by the ref.
But in Muay Thai, there is no such opportunity to stall. When fighters get close to each other, they use a variety of highly offensive techniques, such as sweeps, dumps, knees, and elbows, which can quickly turn the tide of a fight.
For this reason, before a fighter can launch these attacks, they must first learn how to position themselves and find an opening in their opponent's defense by mastering the Muay Thai clinching techniques.
In this article, we will guide you through the inside and out of Muay Thai clinching techniques, including its positioning options and tips on how to improve your clinching game.
What Is Muay Thai Clinch?
In Muay Thai, clinching can be defined as a technique to hold the opponent at a very close range by grappling the hands around the opponent’s neck during an offensive or defensive combat. This tactic is used as an effective method to subdue the opponent or control the aggressiveness of the other fighter.
Clinching in Muay Thai is different from other martial arts such as Judo and Boxing as it permits the fighter to execute knees, punches, kicks, and elbows to the opponent while in close range.
The clinch also presents opportunities for Muay Thai fighters to score points through positioning, sweeping, and tripping. In fact, with the abundance of opportunities in it, there is a class of fighters, called Muay Khao, aiming to get into it every time.
Muay Thai Clinch Position
In the Muay Thai clinch, there are at least two different positions that a fighter can go for to dominate their opponent, which is double collar tie and single collar tie.
Double Collar Tie
The double collar tie, also called the Muay Thai plum, is one of the most commonly used—and the most devastating—techniques in Muay Thai. To get into it, you need to choose whether you are going to target the head or the neck, as the type of grip you have to use will vary depending on your target.
To target the neck, wrap your arms over your opponent’s shoulders and behind their neck. Make sure to keep your arms inside your opponent’s since this will put you in a dominant position. Lock their head and shoulders by using your elbows and forearms to place pressure. This position gives you more control. Aside from that, you can also hurt your opponent if you do it correctly.
If you wish to target the head, Snake your arms inside your opponent’s guard to slide up and place your hand on the back of their head, then pull it down for a prompt meeting between their face and your knee. Make sure that it’s your arms on the inside and not your opponent’s. That way, they won’t be able to use your shoulders to brace against the pressure from your hands.
To defend the double collar tie, you can snake one arm in and force your opponent into a single collar tie.
Single Collar Tie
As the name implies, the single collar tie is a single-arm version of the plum. A single collar tie is executed by wrapping your arm around your opponent, gaining tight bicep control, and grasping the back of your opponent’s head, providing you the opportunity to strike with the knee or twist to outbalance the opponent.
From there, you can push and twist your opponent against the ropes. You’ll have far more opportunity to alternate between a hook and uppercut with the arm that had bicep control.
5 Tips to Improve your Muay Thai Clinching Game
Clinching is one of the Muay Thai maneuvers that many people, especially beginners, struggle with because you need to know how to use your strength efficiently and where exactly to position yourself and your limbs.
But like any other technique, you can master it by investing in lots of practice and consistency. Here are some pointers to get you started in improving your clinch game.
1. Your hips and legs have to be in a right position
Unlike being in a fighting stance, your hips should be in a squared position. Your legs should be open and your knees slightly bent to have a good base support.
A strong base is very important to minimize the chance of you getting swept or losing your balance when you throw your knees.
2. Keep your arms inside to dominate your opponent
Clinching is all about mastering control of whoever you’re clinching with, and having your arms inside of your opponent’s will give you more control. When your arms are inside, you are able to nullify a lot of elbows as well as pull your partner around with efficiency.
3. Control more than your opponent’s head
Many people learn to clinch by pulling the opponent’s head down. However, it’s not the only way to get into the dominant position. Other than pulling their head down, you can also practice controlling their arms and body/neck lock. Having control of their body actually confuses a lot of people more as they’re not sure of what to do.
4. Practice different kinds of knees in a clinching position
The most common strike people aim in a clinching position is straight knees. But there are many other knee strikes you can have in your arsenal as well. Try practicing throwing knees to different parts of the midsection with varying speeds and angles.
5. Only use strength when you need to
Many make the mistake of being tense the entire time they clinch. Your shoulders should be relaxed until a reaction needs to be given. Being tense when nothing is happening will only make you extremely tired. When you relax, you’re able to see more, adjust better, and pick your shots smarter.
Sharpen your Muay Thai techniques with our variety of Muay Thai training classes! 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, we have the best program for you!