Okay… We’ve established a few things concerning the Clinch that everyone should know by now. I’ll go over these real quick, because what I’m going to go over next is pretty much the “last resort” when everything else goes wrong. This will let us know what we should be striving to do before we get to this point.
Principle of Inside Control:
One of the most effective ways to get out of a MT Clinch is simply to work for one of your own. When you are in close, establish your base of control first. Why? 1) We don’t want to be on the receiving end of a MT Clinch. 2) All work to break a clinch has to start right as it is being set to avoid taking damage. Once the MT Clinch is locked, you will be kneed
. Whether that is once or multiple times, depends on how fast you can take control of the situation.
Secure a Bodylock:
By getting your hips close to your opponent and locking then up tight, you take a lot of danger away from the knees by lessening the amount of distance they can travel to hurt you. Further, by securing a bodylock, if you choose to take the fight down to the ground you are in a better position to do so
Secure the Overhooks:
Securing a set of Overhooks will break the clinch on your neck, and allow you grappling options. If your opponent tries to yank their arms free, let them go and push them off with a “Bump” to set them up for your counter attack.
Reach a Neutral Position – Work the Over-Under Clinch:
This is a relatively neutral position that will allow you not only to defend, but also set up your own attacks. Further, by rooting down on the opponent you can take away the danger of being kneed greatly. Once in this position, you can utilize the Overhook Snap, Underhook Snap or Bump to leave/break the clinch.
This brings us to what we have in front of us now, the Head Rest
. I initially listed the Head Rest as a neutral position. In actuality, it is a defensive position and should be the last thing you fall back on while trying to get out of a clinch
. It does not allow for any offensive posturing or techniques like a true “neutral” position. It does, however, create a relative “safe zone” for you so that you can gather your thoughts and figure a way out of your dilemma.
I have to say firstly that the technique name is truly a misnomer. You really aren’t going to be “resting” in the clinch at all. In fact, it is best to be moving and working within the clinch at all times. As it states in Muay Thai: The Art of Fighting:
MOVE AROUND!!! Do not stand in place and clinch, rather, CONSTANTLY be on the move! Use your arms to toss your opponent around. Push on your opponent’s shoulders/arms while pulling on his neck to throw him off balance, leaving him open for your knee strikes. Try to throw the opponent to the ground if you can! (and KICK him as he falls!)
While this is definitely true, wanton and panicked movement in a clinch can get you planted on your back, snatched in a submission hold, or bludgeoned repeatedly with knees, fists or elbows. It’s true that we want to keep moving to help avoid being hit, but if we do so with a purpose and in an educated fashion it will lessen the amount of damage we can incur along the way.
The Head Rest –
1) As your opponent set their MT Clinch around your neck, take your left arm (or your right – whichever you prefer) and drape it over your opponent’s arms at the crux of their elbows, and grab the far side arm (in this instance their left) at their elbow.
2) Take your head and insert your forehead into the crux of your left arm. This should relieve a little pressure off of your neck.
3) Take your right arm and place it in the space between your hips and your opponent’s hips. This will act as a “last ditch” barrier for any knees your opponent will fire.
4) Lower your base by bending at the knees and root your weight into the top of your opponent’s arms.
To defend knees after you’ve settled into a Head Rest do this: When you feel your opponent beginning to shift their weight to throw a knee, drop your weight through your left arm by dropping base and “circle away” from the knee. So, if your opponent is going to fire their right knee (to your left side) you lower your base and throw your weight down through your opponent’s arms, step your right foot forward and to the right 45 degrees, and step your left foot forward into where your right used to be while you pivot your body to your left. In order for your opponent to stay upright and in control of the clinch, they will need to follow your step with their own and will not be able to fire the knee
. If your opponent tries to fire their left knee (to your right side), you would use the same type of footwork to step out to your left, while you pivot your body right. Got it?
During this time you are hoping that your opponent’s grip will loosen enough to leave the clinch. I’ll list a few ways to loosen your opponent’s grip while in the clinch and also how to use the “Bump” to get out of the clinch in my next post.
Muay Thai - The Art of Fighting
Bas Rutten's Big Book of Combat by, Bas Rutten
Savage Strikes and The Clinch by, Mark Hatmaker