It is no exaggeration to say that there is nowhere else in the world like Thailand to teach you how to clinch. Yes, it’s the high level of technique and deep pockets of knowledge, the sheer breadth of skill. But more than any of that it’s the possibilities for experience. Some who come to Thailand gyms with an aim to learn clinch might be disappointed by how little “instruction” there is, because the pedagogy of Thailand and the methods of everywhere else can be so different. But I like to think of it like swimming; you get some instruction and correction, but what makes a strong swimmer is not endless instruction or correction by a teacher, it’s just spending endless hours in the water. Just moving and feeling and spending time in the water. That’s where I’m coming from when I “teach” clinch. I’m not a teacher, I’m not an instructor, I’m not a kru, and I certainly don’t know everything. But I do know what I know – I’ve spent a lot of time in the water and have received knowledge from some of the best who ever breathed. That’s where I’m coming from, and I hope it helps others to hear what I have to say and then go do it. A lot.
I was at training when Kevin sent me a message, saying there was a good question posted to Reddit and he thought I’d have a good answer. So, when I got back from training I handed Kevin my phone and we shot my answer to “How to Use Your Legs in the Clinch.” Like striking, the clinch is best when it’s a coordination between the upper body and the lower body. Making space, closing space, ease of movement, directing power instead of using power. In the 7 minute clip answering this Reddit question, I mention a few sessions in the Muay Thai Library where what I’m talking about is taught by experts: Tanadet Tor. Pran49 with the Long Clinch; Yodwicha with locks; Sangtiennoi Sor. Rungroj creating space for transitions.
Because I’m from the West, but have learned my clinch here in Thailand, I kind of bridge the difference between the two pedagogies. That’s kind of cool, actually. If you’d like to learn more about what I’ve learned and what I use in my own clinch, here’s an hour long video of an informal “clinch seminar” I gave for the SMAC group:
Using Your Head in the Clinch – also important
Below my technique vlog on using the head as the 9th limb:
In the first video I mention sessions in the Muay Thai Library that helped me understand some of the principles I’m discussing. You can check them out here:
#56 Tanadet Tor. Pran49 – Mastering Long Clinch (63 min) watch it here
This is one of the most interesting and, if mastered, dominant clinch positions one can use, and the entire session is devoted to it. I filmed with young Long Clinch master Tanadet, and discover all the small refinements he created that turned what for many fighters is just a transitional position, into an entire system of attack. This is a rare session, capturing a little known and used clinch system.
#8 Sangtiennoi Sor Rungroj – Advanced Clinch (52 min) watch it here
The Golden Age Lumpinee and Rajadamnern Champion, a legendary Muay Khao fighter who fought all the greats instructs on the finer points of clinch technique. Small differences that make big differences. Advanced tips on the swim-in and turn, and the importance of going from long distance techniques to short distance grab and lock.
#4 Yodwicha – Clinch and Muay Khao (Knee) Specialist (35 min) – watch it here
Yodwich shared the Fighter of the Year award as only a 16 year old, and his success in the Lumpinee ring made him one of the most feared clinch fighters in Thailand. In this session he goes through his favorite Muay Khao techniques, shows why he prefers side-attack locks, and turns.
#10 The Clinch Techniques of Yodwicha – Session 2 (34 min)watch it here
This is my second session with Yodwicha, you can see the first further down below. This one really gets into the specifics of clinch technique and defense. One of the best clinch fighters in Thailand, co-Fighter of the Year, sharing his unique attack style.