Building a Better Muay Thai Clinch Fighter (Part 5 – “Head & Bicep Control”)

Two Fighters demonstrate grappling for Head & Bicep Control

This is where the Muay Thai Clinch becomes its most intricate.  The really advanced clinchwork involves boxers fighting for control of each others arms, because from these positions, it is possible to execute all varieties of Muay Thai Clinch techniques:  knees, elbows, twists, and throws.

There are two primary variations of this clinch position, controlling your opponent’s bicep from the inside or outside position.  Each is used for different strategies based upon how you want to attack your opponent.

While Straight Knees are often employed from this clinch, another knee comes into frequent play, the Skipping Side Knee, where fighters lift their legs to the side, and then slam them into their opponents thighs, hips, and obliques.  The impact surface of this knee strike is the bony inside of the knee joint.

Skipping Side Knee using Head & Inside Bicep Clinch

When one begins to learn the Head & Bicep Control clinch positions, an effective drill that is employed is sometimes called “Wind Knees”, where the fighters grasp each other in this clinch and begin exchanging Skipping Side Knees.  With each knee strike, the defending fighter drives his hip forwards so that his partners intended knee strike impacts his hip with just the inside of the thigh.  These knees are thrown without much force to prevent unnecessary injuries.  Another variation of the drill is for each fighter to throw three of these knee strikes in succession from one side, and on the third attempt his training partner performs a counter or throw.

Most clinch throws use the fundamental concepts that were first mentioned in Part 2 of this blog series.  The stepping & pivoting footwork, keeping the hips tight for leverage, and the concept of pushing & pulling.  A typical Muay Thai clinch throw consists of the fighter stepping sideways and pivoting while pulling his opponent’s head down in the opposite direction and pushing up or forwards on the shoulder.

When a fighter twists his opponent in the clinch to either get him off-balance or to throw him, it is important to note that a fighter may pull his opponent over the inside of his leg as long as he then steps back with that leg, giving his opponent the opportunity to recover his position.  If a fighter leaves his leg in place, it is considered a trip and is illegal.  Pulling an opponent over the outside of your leg (or hip) is considered a Judo-like throw and is illegal.

A twisting clinch throw



Another important consideration when performing a clinch twist, dump, or throw is that these techniques do not score in a direct manner.  While they do help demontrate one fighter being the more skilled and powerful fighter, they are not considered scoring tactics as they are not initiated by an actual strike.

A common variation of the Head & Bicep Control position is often referred to as “Over-Under” position, where the fighters have clasped each other behind the back with one arm over their opponent’s shoulder, and the other hooked underneath the opposite shoulder.  While this is an excellent position from which to twist one’s opponent and strike with knees, it allows your opponent the very same opportunity.

(Next: “Elbows from the Clinch”)


About khunkaogym

Kru Brooks Miller has been training in both Muay Thai & Boxing since 1992. He is a 3x Muay Thai champion in 3 different weight classes. His "Khun Kao Promotions" was the first to feature full rules Muay Thai competition in the state of Virginia (DC Metro Showdown - Feb. 23, 2008 in Lansdowne, VA). He currently assists Operation Octagon Productions promote the "Thai Championship Boxing" Muay Thai series and coaches his fight team in Alexandria, VA Kru Brooks is available for Muay Thai seminars. For more information, contact
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10 Responses to Building a Better Muay Thai Clinch Fighter (Part 5 – “Head & Bicep Control”)

  1. mister to most says:

    the biggest master knows you

  2. BUSTER HYMAN says:



  3. tuff love says:

    what about the nice clinch with some head grinding , you know the forehead tucked into the face shoulder area of the opponent’s, pushing and rubbing hard on the opponents side jaw area .

    I see many top old school thai fighters employing hand grasping at the
    “mid forearm ”executing this grinder move.

    grinder clinch , move into blind throw , now that is technical style to the extreme.

  4. put dem down says:

    you ever watch the thais do there throws ?
    look very closely at the low kneeing action.
    the thais like to do rabbit style knees bumping hard into the opponents lower thigh area and then shove or push to make fall there opponent.

    this scrapping -dragging the foot low on the ground and making a rabbit knee is very subtle in look but very effective in action…

    now any knee fighters do this move into a throw ??

    you have to watch all the thai fights and study what they do .

    i`ll be back later with more insightful observations of them nice clinch throws.

    • khunkaogym says:

      Thanks for commenting! You are 100% correct! I refer to those little “rabbit knees” as knee bumps! I teach a series of them from different positions.

  5. clinch lock says:

    who knows what going heavy is when entering single or double , collar ties ??

    who can go heavy to a collar tie and INSTANTANEOUS SNAP down ?

    there are huge benefits in hand fighting and neck wrestling , utilizing such techniques and concepts. doing so allows you to control not only the neck but the rhythm and posture of the opponent.

    these words and concepts are alien to your knowledge base ?

    all range pummeling is a good solution and warm up for any clinch work.
    you got to be able to pummel and transition into all positions for starters .

    if you cant swim you will sink and drown and get your head put down!

  6. surly & gnarly IV sure says:

    lets talk gym junk:

    how many times have we heard some one call the ram muay the same thing as wai kru ?
    how many times have we heard some one call any thing related to clinch plaam ??
    how many times have we heard that we should give a bum respect ?
    how many times have we heard some one say they know how to wrestle when they are only
    leg grabbers and know nothing about clinching ?
    how many times have we heard some say judo throws are good with thai clinch THROWS ??
    how many times have we seen people start practicing SPINNING back kicks and all that fun !!!
    how many times have we heard people say and insist that the entire shin area is good for blocking since it becomes hardened…
    how many times have we seen people three step spinning back fist rather that muay thai
    step back elbow ??
    how many times have we seen and heard people making legends and heroes out of suspect sources.


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