The art of 8 limbs uses fists, shins, elbows and knees. To be a real Muay Thai fighter you need to have a strong knowledge of the clinch which can indeed be looked upon as an art in itself. Clinching is the biggest one of the biggest differences between Muay Thai and kickboxing and it one of the reasons that make Muay Thai so unique.
Understanding the clinch
Clinching is one of the most disregarded aspects of Muay Thai outside of Thailand. However, it is one of the most important aspects of Muay Thai inside the kingdom. This very important aspect has its own category title in Thai Boxing – ‘Muay Khao’ (Knee fighter). The elbows and knees are utilized the most when clinching. Unlike in Western Boxing, fighters are allowed to clinch.
The clinch is used with elbows and knees to land devastation blows and in order to gain the most points. Using these powerful methods is a lot more refined than people may think. It is unfortunate that most uneducated people view clinching as grabbing the back of your opponent’s neck, pulling it down and kneeing carelessly.
It is much more than that as clinching will include arm control, balancing your body position, sweeps to throw your opponent off balance, entering and exiting the clinch effectively as well as knee and elbow strikes from inside the clinch. As clinching will get the most points and a lot of damage can be done in this position there is a lot of emphasis on training it every day.
Training the clinch in Thailand
In Muay Thai gyms Clinch training is a way of life. it is normal to train clinching for 30 minutes to 1 hour each session. It is a well-known fact that Thai boxers dedicate a lot more time to clinching than they do to sparring. They spend thousands of hours in training honing their skills in the clinch. This is complemented by doing hundreds of jump knees on the bag to train knee technique, power and endurance.
Effective clinching in MMA
Clinching with elbow and knee strikes are not regularly used in MMA, probably because a lot of MMA fighters do not train and execute these techniques. However, some fighters have used them with great success. Fighters such as the great Anderson Silva utilized the clinch more effectively, especially because fighters did not know how to defend it. It is very important to learn how to enter the clinch in order to get past your opponents offensive and defensive techniques as your opponent will not just let you enter the clinch unchallenged.
Drill and watch videos to improve your clinch game
The Muay Thai clinch is by far the most difficult part of Muay Thai to learn outside of Thailand. Fighters who learn how to use the clinch effectively can gain a huge advantage over their lesser skilled and educated Western opponents in both points and inflict damage. As well as training, in order to learn proper clinching it is important to watch Muay Thai fights and look at fighters that focus on the clinch. Fighters such as Petboonchu Fa Group is the most decorated Muay Thai fighter in history whose fight style is Muay Khao.