Muay Thai clinch techniques: how to fight in the clinch

Muay Thai clinch techniques are an integrated parts of Thai Kickboxing. Fighting in the clinch gives a fighter a perfect opportunity to use devastating knee and elbow strikes. One of the effective ways to set it up is to throw a combo of a few punches, follow it up with a short hook, close the distance between you and your opponent and get into a clinch position from there.

"Muay Thai without clinch game is just a kickboxing"

Few important things to remember when fighting in the clinch:

  • #1 It is important that you don't intertwine your fingers on your opponents neck when practicing clinch fighting with bare hands. Just lock your hands behind his head instead to be able to press it down and place a palm of your hand on the back of the other.
    The main reason is practical: you wouldn't be able to do it with a boxing gloves on during a fight. Another benefit is that it allows you to deliver a quick elbow to your opponents face without changing your palms position. It wouldn't be possible if your fingers were interlinked.

  • #2 Put as much pressure on your opponent's neck and shoulders as possible. He will struggle and waste a lot of energy to release himself. This will wear your opponent down.

  • #3 Always try to maintain a dominant, top position. Lock your elbows tight around opponent's neck to prevent him from getting inside your clinch and taking over control. In this position, you can control his posture and deliver more painful blows.

    If you don't have a clinch control, throw a knee or two to his midsection to lower his guard and try to get a better, more dominant position. If you still can't get in, release the clinch and try again later.

  • #4 When you want to get out of a clinch, use your hands to push your opponent's chin up and back. A quick elbow strike, as a defensive means, is a good way to release a clinch. If you are an MMA fan you have most likely watched Joanna Jedrzejczyk utilizing this technique in most of her UFC fights.

Other types of Muay Thai clinch techniques:

The section above applies mostly to an effective use of a front clinch technique but are other types of clinch that you can utilize in the ring:

  • arm clinch: when one or both of your hands control one of your opponent's arm. This type of a clinch is useful to hold the other fighter before you deliver a knee strike or throw him on the ground.
  • side clinch: when both of your hands are holding a side of an opponent's neck from a side position. One hand passes around the front of the other fighter and another around the back. It allows you to hit abs with knee strikes and it is very effective if you want to target your opponent's kidney section at the lower back.
  • low clinch: when both of your hands are holding your sparring partner under his arms. This type of clinch technique allows you to lift your opponent and throw him on the ground more easily.

Muay Thai clinch techniques presented by Thai fighters:

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