The fifth hour of my client’s basic course in Muay Thai for martial arts cross training brought him onto the clinch. The picture above is a totally illegal form of takedown for Muay Thai, but perfectly legal in MMA. We also revised all previous techniques and introduced the diagonal knee strike.
We warmed up with mobility training, sport specific calisthenics, mirror footwork and simple one-for-one technique exchanges. This moved us onto checking mid-section round kicks. From here we developed an effective kick catch and a followed on with a jab or a low round kick to the supporting leg or a diagonal knee-strike. We also looked at maintaining a strong defence when holding a kicking leg as well taking precautions if we are being set up by a kick feign. As well as catching the leg the fighter learnt how to step offline and break the opponent’s balance. This nicely segued into the principles of clinching, which followed.
The clinch is a section of Muay Thai training that many clubs train as a separate class as well as part of a general class. Of all the features of Muay Thai this is the one that separates it along with other related Southeast Asian boxing styles away from all other kickboxing formats. Good clinch work requires an ability to control the head and arms of an opponent whilst using effective footwork to unbalance them and time various strikes, particularly knees, to land on target. This area also includes sweeps, but modern Muay Thai has greatly restricted this area.
The lesson finished with a round of clinch-only sparring and then a round of general Muay Thai sparring.