Muay Thai Clench: More of a Weakness?

Discussion in 'Striking Martial Arts' started by drewtoby, Sep 8, 2013.

  1. drewtoby

    drewtoby Disciple

    Okay, Hapkido is very defensive so I am a bit biased. But if you put someone in a clinch you only have your knees while your opponent has elbows, fists, knees, and feet. Plus just trap a knee and foot sweep, clenched guy now has a killer strike setup. How do you train to stop the clench from going bad? When you knee you are also off balance, right?
  3. Eric Dufurrena

    Eric Dufurrena The Iron Fist of Fun

    I thought this, too, when I first got my black belt, and was also doing Hapkido. But then I sparred with a guy who had dabbled in Muay Thai, and he grabbed me, it is a lot harder to deal with than you imagine at first. If you haven't trained to deal with it, you will take a knee to the head or chest and he wont even have to get himself off balance, as the knees are actually low (from pulling you into them) and quick, and he gets to use your body for balance as well. One good knee will take you out.

    It is tight, and it controls your motions and keeps you pretty well off balance so that it is hard for you to generate any power, despite having your limbs free, and his arms are clinched down in front, making body shots almost completely ineffective, and you cannot see his head. If you thrown a kick or a knee yourself, you will have less power, and it is easy to throw somebody when you are controlling them through the clinch. Just jerking around the head causes a ton of trouble, and keeps you off balance.

    HOWEVER, once you have trained with the clinch, it can be dealt with. One way, that I use often, is once you have been clinched, take your left arm over your opponents arms and push him either on the face or neck, using a straightening the arm kind of motion. Once you have created some space and weakness between his elbows, put your right arm between them, from underneath, and snake that arm up behind their head, and pull down to get them in the clinch posistion. Now it is pretty easy to remove your left hand from their face and put it under and through their arms as well, securing a full clinch. When you are inside you have the control, as their clinch will lack power because your arms are blocking the clinching motion, and you have them nice and tight.
    RJ Clark and DeeD like this.
  4. drewtoby

    drewtoby Disciple

    All good points. However, were you trained a lot in kick defense? My first school was big on this. Plus when someone has their hands on the back of your head they convey what they are going to do. One of my friends introduced me to the clinch, and you can FEEL that knee coming before it hits (through shifting weight on the back of your head and pulling you in). I had no idea what was going on/what to do, but my reflexes took over from kick defense. I shifted my body, grabbed his knee on the outside, and could of used my foot sweep. But that was after several years of my old school with small circle jujitsu thrown into the mix.

    But it is true that one good knee is all it takes :blackeye:. Speed does mean a lot as well, I doubt I could handle someone with more speed and experience. I don't even have a black belt yet :cry:. What hapkido federation/association were you in?
    Eric Dufurrena likes this.
  5. DeeD

    DeeD Nak Muay

    From a clinch position you are actually setting up other strikes, so knees are not the only weapon you are using, When we clinch its about body control its about putting your opponent where you want him, The clinch sets up elbow strikes, knees, uppercuts,sweeps , only an inexperienced striker will just hold onto his opponent and go for a knee. As you mentioned this is the anticipated attack,Most people when pulled into a clinch will push the arm or hand down to try stop the knee if they see it , this opens the head for the horizontal elbow strike, My favourite because I am tall is i pull my opponent down and use a chopping elbow to the top of the head. With experience you can actually clinch inexperienced guys with 1 hand. We also sweep off a clinch. Being in a clinch with an experienced guy is one of the worst places you can be, it allows us to control distance and pick our shots
    Eric Dufurrena and RJ Clark like this.
  6. drewtoby

    drewtoby Disciple

    Very true, hence why I said I doubt I would be able to handle someone with more experience. Those elbow shots look deadly. I wish I could say that I would be able to trap a knee as soon as it comes up and sweep, but I don't think I'm at that level yet. The clinch looks very offensive as well! My last concern is that the clincher leaves their groin wide open to grabs and strikes through. But no system is perfect. Not even Hapkido.

    As for avoiding the clinch, when your opponent is in guard and you clinch you also leave your head open for a second. How do you stop shots?

    I don't mean to pick on the system, I just want to know how it works ;)
    DeeD likes this.
  7. Eric Dufurrena

    Eric Dufurrena The Iron Fist of Fun

    I proper knee from clinch is not only thrusted upwards, but downwards as well. The defense against someone who is holding your leg and your knee is bent is to, basically, step down very fast and hard, and when you do a proper knee, you don't leave it hanging up there.

    Properly used, clinching is awesome! Why do you think they do it so much in MMA?

    When we do our self defense, I use the side clinch a lot, which is one armed, and punch, elbow, palm strike and hammer fist to wild abandon. Again, if you have trained in the side clinch, you can defend well, but to other people it can be devastating.
    DeeD likes this.
  8. Eric Dufurrena

    Eric Dufurrena The Iron Fist of Fun

    Clinch as part of a combo. If you get a jab in, you can swim in for a clinch and have it cinched in before they can recover. Sure, you do get smacked a lot when you go for clinches, and it is a skill that you can develop, but it works a lot better as part of a combo, instead of just reaching for a head. Kind of like punches. And kicks. Oh, and throws. :sneaky::LOL:
    DeeD likes this.
  9. drewtoby

    drewtoby Disciple

    Okay, good answer. I would not be able to sweep. Then what do you do if your opponent's head is on the side of your body, squared up so their leg is behind yours? Attempt a choke?

    And for a side clinch can't your opponent side kick you dead easy?
  10. Eric Dufurrena

    Eric Dufurrena The Iron Fist of Fun

    There are a lot of answers to these questions, most of them involve getting the 'inside' on the grab, like the example above. If they are on your side, most likely the best defense would be to step back with the leg that is closest to them and get back to square, whilst setting up the aforementioned escape, so that you would be square.

    I have been kicked before in a side clinch, but not usually, and not effectively. Since, in most side clinches, you grab their arm with the crook of your arm not on their head, it ends up making them bend over quite a bit. In this side clinch, you can throw a devastating knee to the head, and their one arm wont help at all.

    The clinches are not the end all, for sure. I suggest going to your local Muay Thai school and finding someone who is interested in sharing techniques, you can offer defense against throws and joint locks, for instance, and they can help you with your clinchwork.
  11. drewtoby

    drewtoby Disciple

    Okay, thanks! I guess my initial response was only okay, not great, not bad. I did sidestep the first knee and had a lower center of gravity to sweep, as well as my opponent's leg. I would of used my grab defense, but I did not want to be left open for the knees. I kept my arms neutral to protect from anything: I did not grab back, but kept my arms by my chest to react for anything. I guess my grab defense would be a better option, when done fast. Problem is that I have been doing kick defense longer, so I just react with that :/

    And I will cross train eventually! Muay Thai is on my list!
  12. DeeD

    DeeD Nak Muay

    As Eric mentioned clinch as part of a combo, I use my jab to guage distance many a time as I jab guy slips I open my glove on the extension and pull and grab his head towards me, so him slipping sets up my clinch I then pull with one hand to lock in the 2nd arm or i throw an elbow as he gets pulled forward into it. Many guys just reach for the clinch no combo they take big shots to the head. So as Eric said Combo combo combo.

    All good, Valid questions keep asking (y)
  13. drewtoby

    drewtoby Disciple

    so the best way to stop it is to keep distance via kicks or go straight to strike defense (throws and counters)? next best is to go grab defense, then last option would be what I did sidestepping and getting low to sweep? I'm starting to see this is a cruel and effective system!
    Eric Dufurrena likes this.
  14. DeeD

    DeeD Nak Muay

    Distance would be a good counter and then when a guy goes for the clinch( the reaching part) you can use that trigger as a strike defence(throw or counter), The sweep would be great if you get your timing right so that would come with experience but I would be careful going too low , If you positioned too low makes it easy to knee to the face, I learnt that one from experience, in training years ago went low to strike caught a glancing blow to the face from a knee, shattered my nose and had to have surgery :) If you can try find a nak muay and drill it with someone who understands the process it will help you to realise what counters you could utilise from your style.

    You can also use choke techniques off the clinch as well, My other style I train in utilizes elements of hapkido but its hard to discern which part comes from which style because its a hybrid. So i know we have a few off that as well.
  15. drewtoby

    drewtoby Disciple

    How do you go into chokes?

    And for my "reflex response" say my opponent throws a right knee. I felt it coming, grabbed it with my right and left arm (left on top so I could block, right under to keep his leg from escaping), put my right foot behind him, left foot behind me so I was on his right side and not open to any other knees, and somewhat low ready to charge. Right foot forward low guard stance with my opponent's right knee hugged tightly against my body, although his foot came somewhat to the floor. I realize my friend is not all that experienced and we were not throwing, but what would be an experienced opponent's counter? I was pushing upwards just a little against the clinch as well the whole time, to give myself warning as to what was going to happen so I could attempt to escape or block.

    I realize a straight charge, grab behind the knees, and throw would equal a world of hurt from being too low and the knees.

    And for future cross training, would you recommend ground fighting or striking for a Hapkido practitioner?
  16. DeeD

    DeeD Nak Muay

    Had to act out your description to get a clear picture for myself of what you were describing, Ive actually had someone do that to me before, I used the "trap" for leverage and pulled down on the head and threw a jumping left knee into the chest, Most of the time when someone goes for a two handed defence they leave their head open, elbow strike to the head makes guys let go pretty quickly, but from what you described what would you be setting up for off that position, would it be the takedown with the right foot? From what you are describing you have a good transitional position but you need to use it not wait for
    So be a bit more offensive from that position would let you control the next move.

    Im a striker and the ground guys will probably have a different opinion but I would say striking and the reason for this is that hapkido uses many locks,traps etc and being able to be proficient in a striking art after what you have done already, would help you be able to understand body movement from a fighting perspective and would compliment your style perfectly, Many of the guys that train with me that struggle with actually grabbing the lock, wrist, choke etc struggle because they dont have a proficient background in striking so when someone is actually trying to hit them and not standing statically the person doesnt know how to move or what to anticipate realistically to pull off the desired result. So im saying striking (y)

    I found this watch the start, Doing this standing works well without going down also

    also this variation

    I do this but slip under the opponents left arm so he chokes himself on his right arm with the same movement as seen on the above, just some of the variations (y)
    Eric Dufurrena likes this.
  17. drewtoby

    drewtoby Disciple

    Okay, thanks! Wrist grabbing in real life I can do off of a full speed hook, while straight punches are more of a block/perry and grab, counter strike, then throw. Almost there, not quite yet though.

    I guess my ingrained response was better than I thought it was. I would hope that I could sweep, especially if I felt my opponent's weight shifting for a flying knee. One foot somewhat on the ground and the other in the air would be a good sweep. Yes, in real life I would have stayed low and put all 140lbs of me forward fast to try and sweep. I would have to go super low for a second though to get behind my opponent's opposite leg. If that did not work, back to the defensive. Things can get real messy really fast for either of us though.

    My old school we did some more ground stuff and choke defense, my current school more striking. I can apply moves to the ground, as well as throw some good strikes. I am glad I transferred: rather delay a black belt and gain more experience than to get a black belt asap.

    Thanks for the help! I guess I remained so defensive because I had never encountered a clinch before. It kind of scared me. But my reflexes scare me too. Hapkido stances come out with out thinking/intending to do so at times. But then and again, the falls have helped me more than once.

    This just goes to show no art is superior: when we both get into a strong area (close fighting) and we both have a hard time. I am tired of people claiming Western arts like Muay Thai are the best and Korean arts are BS. At least this reenforces my opinion that Hapkido is not a BS art, as years of training have allowed me to apply my skills to a previously unknown and MMA proven martial art style and quite possible could have allowed me to escape, and if not would have allowed me to defend myself for sure.

    What other fighting positions are similar to the clinch? You proved me wrong: the clinch is great!
    Eric Dufurrena likes this.
  18. Kuyaken

    Kuyaken Karate for the streets not just for trophies

    Wow, some excellent responses to the "Clinch"

    The clinch is predominantly used for throwing/sweeping the opponent but also used when the fighter is "tired" and needs some "time" to recover from either a strike that stunned him or just drop ini stamina.

    In the clinch you will be twisting pulling turning and striking with shins, knees, feet, head and elbows, the key is to keep your opponent off balance so they are unable to get a footing to strike you back and if they did the strikes would be week due to the concern of your opponnet keeping his balance and trying to get out of the clinch.

    Its a very powerful weapon and not to be underestimated, possibly the issue occur when someone not versed in Muay Thai or other striking arts that use the clinch, not seeing what we see

  19. drewtoby

    drewtoby Disciple

    More good points, thanks! I would rather use my grab defense than start twisting and short striking though, as your opponent can get an easier elbow/choke if you are twisting around. If they are leading me somewhere, I learned to follow with preparation. Resistance is bad, as they will use it against you, pulling off a good sweep or killer elbow. If I had to pull a strike maybe protruding knuckle punch or spear-hand to the groin.
    DeeD likes this.
  20. Kuyaken

    Kuyaken Karate for the streets not just for trophies

    Another thing to add, the Muay Thai Clinch is used "In the Ring" where there's rules and a referee, not in street combat or altercations with other styles who predominantly work on stand up grappling etc. Muay Thai is a striking art that involves "basic" techniques
  21. DeeD

    DeeD Nak Muay

    Thats the thing, All arts have strengths and weaknesses the key is to be able to test yourself in an environment where you can see what works and what doesn't, Hapkido is definitely not a BS art but just remember Muay thai is not a western art its from Thailand its just been incorporated into MMA because of its application in a fight enviroment, I included a link for you

    (y) No problem

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