Clinching for MMA (diary entry)

body clinch



This morning’s lesson brought my client up to the sixth hour of his course in Basic MMA for Martial Arts Cross Training. Having focused on the striker’s perspective it was now time to explore matters from a grappling point of view, specifically the clinch-fighter.


We began with a warm-up of MMA specific movements. This started with mirror footwork, focusing on changing levels between stand-up (higher stances for striking/mobility) and clinch-range (lower stances for defending takedowns/stability). The exercises then progressed onto targeting for hand strikes and sprawling. We then built on bulling (collar and elbow tie-ups), one-for-one kicks and knees, covering to clinch, bobbing and weaving, and finally using the weaving action from body-clinch to combine an overhand with taking the back. Going to the ground, we drilled guard movements from the back and entry/muscle-memory exercise involving a knee-pin/jab/cross/arm-bar combination.


Moving onto the focus mitts, we did some freestyle pad-work working through similar exercises covered in the warm-up. However, this time intensity could be upped and the fighter could hit targets with full force. We finished by combining snaking/shrimping movements on the ground with punching. Here I looked at coordinating the ground movements with generating force and momentum into strikes. We then built-on covering with the striking actions; the entire exercise promoted ground movement with attacking and defending strikes.



The lesson was then completely focused on attaining a good clinching position when defending against strikes. First we looked at the cover as an effective device to intercept and smother strikes. It is always important to keep the cover mobile, but whilst self-defence tactics generally favour a straighter down the line counter-offensive, MMA can allow for more boxing peek-a-boo elements such as bobbing and weaving. We discussed and compared the two in this lesson.


The cover was then used to access highline clinching. This included the collar and elbow tie-up, and the plum position. From the plum position we moved into Thai clinch work and entries for sweeps. Next we accessed the mid-line, where drilled entries for suplexes and waist-lock takedowns. Finally we accessed the low-line for single leg and double leg takedowns.


Photography (in order) by Charlotte Von Bulow Quirk and Phillip Shirley