Kick ‘n Clinch (diary entry)

spinning kick


Tonight’s double lesson comprised of the second and third classes in my client’s course on Basic Muay Thai for Martial Arts Cross Training. This is the fourth and fifth lessons in my client’s second course of classes with me.

We split lessons up into kickboxing skills and Thai clinch-work. I like this format when it comes to Muay Thai as although these ranges converge and over-lap they are quite distinctive stages of a fight.

The kickboxing class mainly looked at the teep. As previously discussed on this blog, the teep isn’t given justice by simply being described as a “Thai front kick” or even a “Thai push kick”. A distinctive feature of the teep that many use to describe its difference from a typical front kick is its trajectory. Front kicks are often delivered upwards into a target whereas the teep is delivered along a direct horizontal plane of motion. However, it should be noted that this alone does not define the teep and many martial arts styles have both a push front kick and front kick that is delivered along this plane of movement. I would argue that the teep’s versatility and its relaxed delivery are stronger arguments for its distinction. The teep can be used to create distance, as a defensive weapon, as type of jab to set up other kicks and as a full-on power move that can result in a knockout. The teep is mainly thrown at the mid-section, but it is also aimed at the head and can be an effective alternative to a low round kick.

After isolating and then integrating the teep into combinations with punches and round kicks we looked at countering it. A scooping block from the inside and a foot catch are common ways to intercept the teep. Whilst catching the foot it is not unusual for a boxer to turn the trapped foot to unbalance his opponent. Deconstructing this technique I had my client first learn how to absorb a teep. Again, this is another distinctive feature of Muay Thai. Thai boxers are so feared in the fighting world because of their resilience. Outside of its own extensive pre-fight superstitions, Muay Thai seems somewhat world-weary of the mysticism surrounding martial arts techniques and fighters freely take blows as part of their fighting strategy. Being more or less square on and in a high stance, the Thai boxer eats up ground without doing a tremendous amount to block or evade techniques. This allows for a lot of intimidation and ease of unbalancing an opponent.

Some pure Muay Thai clubs dedicate regular lessons just to clinch-work. It’s is the most obvious feature that defines Southeast Asian Kickboxing sports from other types of Kickboxing and is an art unto itself. Tonight’s clinch class looked controlling the head, v-step footwork and safely breaking from the clinch. We covered going through a clinch, under a clinch, turning a clinch and worked most on breaking the clinch from the top. This move has a close relative in wrestling. We also looked at countering with a high kick after breaking a hold. Strikes taught in this class included horizontal elbow, uppercut/spear elbow and chopping elbow, as well as straight and diagonal knee.