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Robot Muay Thai: Head and Arm Control

This is where the Muay Thai Clinch becomes its most intricate. The really advanced clinch work involves boxers fighting for control of each others arms, because from these positions, it is possible to execute all varieties of Muay Thai Clinch techniques: knees, elbows, twists, and throws. There are two primary variations of this clinch position, controlling your opponent’s arm from the inside or outside position. Each is used for different strategies based upon how you want to attack your opponent. While Straight Knees are often used from this clinch, another knee comes into frequent play, the “Side Knee”, where fighters lift their legs to the side, and then slam them into their opponents thighs, hips, and ribs. The impact surface of this knee strike is the bony inside of the knee joint. Most clinch throws use the fundamental concepts that were used during the “arm control” phase of the clinch. The stepping & pivoting footwork, keeping the hips tight for leverage, and the concept of pushing & pulling. A typical Muay Thai clinch throw consists of the fighter stepping sideways and pivoting while pulling his opponent’s head down in the opposite direction and pushing up or forwards on the shoulder. During the next few weeks we will be covering dumps from this position.

The Muay Thai Clinch has a wide array of grappling and striking techniques, and studying these techniques alone could be a life-long pursuit. Mastering these techniques serves no purpose if a fighter doesn’t train to properly achieve the clinch in the first place. One of the most important things for a Muay Thai fighter to learn is to never reach for an opponents head and/or neck with both of their hands at the same time. A smart fighter will reach with one hand while covering with the other. Just reaching in for your opponent’s neck, however, isn’t always advisable though, as it telegraphs your intention to clinch. Many fighters prefer to hide their clinch behind offensive techniques. A very common way to initiate the clinch is by throwing punches at your opponent to distract them, and allowing a Hook to be thrown wide with the intention of grasping your opponent’s head rather than striking with the punch. Another method is to initiate the clinch defensively. As your opponent attacks with punches, redirect his hands allowing you to move into clinch range. This method can also be used defending kicks, a common tactic being trapping your opponents round kick then reaching in with the other hand to grasp your opponents shoulder, pulling them into your knee strikes. Finally, many fighters choose to initiate the clinch by controlling their opponent’s guard. In the instance when one’s opponent is not attacking, one can reach in and grasp the guard, pulling their guard away from their body as you step in with well-placed knee strikes. This often causes the opponent to attempt momentarily covering from the knee strikes with their arms, thus giving you an opening to catch them in the Double Neck Tie.

Keys to Mastering the Clinch:

1. Drill! Drill! and Drill!
2. Technique over power
3. “Sabai Sabai” Thai for relax
4. Footwork
5. Timing

Here’s a highlight reel of Thai legend Orono Por Muang Ubon

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