One of the most important parts of a Muay Thai practitioner’s game is their ability to attack and defend in the Clinch. The Clinch or the Plum, is used when your opponent is close enough to where you can grab their head and be in range for Skip Knees and Cup Knees.
The hands grab the back of your opponent’s head (right above the neck, on back of the skull) and overlap each other, meaning that one palm is over the back of the other hand. The chest and shoulders are relaxed so that the elbows naturally drop down toward the center of the chest, keeping the clinch tight but also keeping your weight on your opponent.
Similar to the Muay Thai Stance, keep your heels off the ground but have the feet about shoulder-width apart and pointing out at a 45 degree angle, and work the same 1,2 rhythm. The feet are constantly shifting weight back and forth (similar to jump roping) so that if you do get thrown off balance, the clinch and the way your body is moving will make it easier to regain your posture.
Attacking From The Clinch
There are many different strikes and techniques that can be used from inside the clinch. One example is in the picture above, a straight knee to the head. Knees can be delivered to the legs, body and head with different variations that fits the position your opponent’s in. Its not limited to the knees however; punches, elbows, takedowns and throws are all used to catch your opponent off-guard, and capitalize on them.
It’s all about reading the openings your opponent gives you and keeping that same 1,2 rhythm the whole time.
Check out this article one of our students wrote about timing and rhythm.
Defending The Clinch
Along with countless attacks and combos you can do in the clinch, there are extremely effective counters to them as well. From arm weaving to off-balancing your opponent by pushing and pulling them, these can be used to set-up more offensive positions or for defensive sweeps and takedowns. Here’s a video showing off an arm weaving technique:
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A Good Clinch?
So how can you can tell if someone has a good clinch? It’s actually very simple. Having a good clinch means you understand and know the basics of this range so well, that you are comfortable and relaxed in that range. When you get to play with someone who has a good clinch, they will be soft but also very fluid in their transitions. There isn’t too much muscle.
There eventually will be to help apply it in different situations, but a good clincher knows to stay relaxed so that they can preserve energy and only use it when they have to. They react to what their opponent gives them, and uses it against them.