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.
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.
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”)