Tonight’s lesson looked at using the Thai clinch for mixed martial arts. We began with a series of mobility exercises and then some calisthenics before we moved onto the plumb position. This partner work began with neck-wrestling and some light grip-fighting. From here we did some one-for-one striking from the clinch and sweeps.
Next we brought Muay Thai clinch into the MMA arena. With a greater allowance for stand-up wrestling holds and even submissions, we were able to explore the arm-triangle clinch and shoulder-trap. The arm-triangle position can be used in conventional Muay Thai, provided the hold isn’t closed into a submission. I teach the movement as a bobbing and weaving action from inside the plumb hold. Within MMA the submission is permitted, but the knee striking from Muay Thai clinch is worth utilising as well to set up for a takedown. Using a pendulum-like motion with diagonal and round knees, the fighter softens up his opponent to take the fight to the ground. The movement that results in a takedown can be set up as if the fighter is about to throw in a spear or diagonal knee strike. This might get the opponent to move away, creating space and allowing the fighter to get into a stronger throwing position. The takedown then follows and the fight can be finished on the ground with a strong choke-hold using the arm-triangle.
The arm-trap involves the fighter encircling the shoulder with the arms, trapping the opponent’s arm between the fighter’s shoulder and head, and the fighter’s hands pressing down on the opponent’s head. From here the fighter can exert pressure on the extended elbow joint, which is not permitted in Muay Thai, and also throw diagonal and spear knees the opponent’s body and head. If the fighter slides in closer, he can execute a standing shoulder-lock. At this point the opponent might resist by pushing back at which point the fighter can shoot in low for a single leg takedown.
The lesson finished with a couple of rounds of MMA clinch-only sparring.