Muay Thai Clinch: The Ultimate Guide To The Inside And Out

Every Muay Thai beginner doesn’t get the importance of this technique called clinch.

In Muay Thai this is the best way to close down the distance between fighters but still fighting and engaging.

The clinches make Muay Thai unique from the other kick fighting like Kickboxing etc.

This is the major difference between Muay Thai Vs Kickboxing.

And it may sound and look easy and simple, but it’s more than that. This is a very tricky move in Muay Thai especially if you’re a beginner and just started sparring.

The Clinch is one of the most important and technical parts of Muay Thai.

What is the Muay Thai Clinch?

The Clinch can be defined as a Stand-up head to head grappling.

In this position, both fighters are fighting to gain control over a dominant position.

There is a major difference between Muay Thai clinch and other sports clinches like Kickboxing and Boxing.

In Muay Thai, the referee will not break up the clinch immediately, as long as one or both fighters are fighting for a dominant position to attack or one had got a position and attacking.

As long as the fight continues the referee doesn’t break the clinch.

The clinch is a very technical aspect where you must hold your opponent to first get the dominant position then launch the powerful attacks, especially Knee, shin, and elbow strikes.

And this is the best way to fight an aggressive fighter, by doing a good clinch you can easily neutralize their aggressive attacks and close the distance.

To hold your opponent in a clinch, there are many options in clinch which we are gonna discuss next.

The Types Of Muay Thai Clinch

1. The Double Collar Tie

The Double Collar Tie Clinch is the most iconic and most used.

This clinch is very easy to understand and very dangerous if used properly.

Firstly you have to choose a target, which can be the neck or head. By selecting a target you can easily define the grip strength on your target.

To get a double collar tie position, you must pull your opponent’s head down and knee his face and upper part of the body.

To do that you’ve to tie your hands and elbows inside your opponent’s guard to lock his head and shoulders, then put your hands on the back of their head for better grip.

Having a tight grip of your hands in the back of your opponent’s head will help you control him while moving your opponent down.

While doing the Double Collar Tie always remember to squeeze your elbows together so that your opponent cannot escape, and always try to keep your hands slightly above the back of your opponent’s head for better control.

muay clinch-
Source: Facebook

2. The single collar tie

The Double collar tie is the most common and famous clinch but in Thailand, the double collar is very rare.

So they instead go for the easy-to-learn, defend and counter and a very effective way called the Single Collar Tie.

By using this a fighter can easily control their opponent’s bicep or shoulder.

The best way to do this is by wrapping your arm around your opponent and pull his head down.

And now there is two way either you can gain bicep control or you can gain control over your opponent’s shoulder.

From now, use your main hand to pull your opponent’s shoulder downward while your elbow has to lock his forearm and biceps.

Here you’ll have a lot of opportunities to twist or off-balance your opponent and land some brutal knee strikes.

Now you can easily push or fall him down to lost his momentum.

Here, you’ll get some amazing opportunities to land some targeted uppercut or hooks using your hand that control your opponent’s shoulder or bicep.

But if you are an experienced fighter then you can easily land some super targeted brutal elbows that can easily knock your opponent’s out.

3. The Double Underhook 

If you are fighting against a tall and aggressive fighter then the Double Under hook is the best way to control your opponent.

The is the main technique in wrestling, but it is extremely underused because in Muay Thai the takedown is very limited.

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But some little throwing takedowns are legal and very effective.

This double under hook is the best way to throw your opponent.

To do this you just have to place both hands under your opponent’s shoulders, then you can easily control your opponent.

For that, you have to cross together your arms to your opponent’s ribs (like a body lock) and push your hip towards your opponent’s hip.

And now you have gained the control to easily lift them, bump them and quickly twist around to throw them at the same time.

For throwing or sweeping your opponent you can always try to push and shove them with all your energy.

Always try to throw them behind you, never try to throw them over your head like a Suplex, cause in Muay Thai it can cause some serious damage to your head.

Always try to land them in the space behind you for better impact.

And if you’re double collar under hook is not working you can easily switch to the bear hug clinch.

This is easier and equally effective. To do this you just have to lower your grip position by doing this you can gain control over your opponent’s hip and then you can easily take him down to the ground.

And he won’t be able to understand what just happened to him/her.

muay thai clinch
source: Facebook

4 Ultimate Tips For The Muay Thai Clinch:-

1. Stay in control

In Muay Thai Clinch the strongest opponent dictates the fight in his way.

The main aspect of Muay Thai clinch is gaining control over your opponent. And you must never lose control of the clinch.

If you do, the match is already out of your side. To prevent from losing away your control there are 3 things you must follow.

Firstly never lose your control from the opponent’s head, and then the control of the opponent’s arm.

And the most important is to stay very calm in your head, don’t panic otherwise you’ll do something stupid. Be very calm in your head and be confident.

2. Using Close Range Attacks

In a Clinch, the most common attack is the knee but you can use different types of close-range attacks like punches, different kinds of elbow strikes.

These are the kind of strikes that can be used for close-range attacks.

Or you can use the clinch to off-balance your opponent or throw or sweep him/her. which can be used to set up your next striking moves.

3. Never Let Your Opponent Regain his Posture

This is just as important as gaining control over his clinch posture it’s also important to not lose control.

You should always prevent your opponent from regaining his posture.

When you have placed your opponent in your clinch, you should always continue to control his head, neck, and his arm.

You’ve to force your opponent into a broken posture, and after his posture gets broke you can easily throw some powerful strikes like punches, knees, and elbows because it will be very hard for him to defend himself in that posture.

So, to defend himself he will try to use straightening out his neck, head, and his arm. But you’ve to use all your strength to keep him in the broken posture and control him.

4. Never Let your Opponent Control Your Neck Or Head

As important as controlling your opponent, it’s more important to not giving away your control.

If your opponent controls your neck or head, they control your balance, they control your full ability to attack or defend.

To prevent this from happening, control your posture and move your hips towards your opponent’s hips. You can also go to a wider stance for better balance, with your leg a little wider than your shoulder width.

Purpose Of Clinch In Muay Thai

Source:  muaythaixl (Instagram)

The Muay Thai Clinch isn’t just about the position, it’s also about the strikes the throw.

In Muay Thai attacks are allowed in the clinch. It’s not like boxers throw some punches in the brief moments of tie-ups before referees separate them.

But in Muay Thai these are full geared strikes from knee, elbows, and also some punches. And this also scores very well in judge’s scorecards.

You’ve put some deep effort to train clinch may be more than the outside strikes.

By doing a clinch, if you can gain control of the position, you can easily do some massive damages like sweep, knee, elbow, trip, punches, and get a lot of points.

And also this means you can easily move around your opponent and stop them from doing any damage to you.

Muay Khao: The Knee Fighters

The Muay Thai Clinch is a certain thing that not most fighters want to end up, but some fighters aggressively try to seek for a clinch, and that is the Muay Khao (Thai: มวยเข่า) fighters also known as Knee fighters. They are the knee and clinch specialists, who are always interested in a Clinch.

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Most likely in Boxing, the clinch is a way to stop certain damage and take a break.

But in Muay Thai Muay Khao fighters actively seek the clinch opportunity for doing more damage.

In a Muay Thai clinch with a Muay Khao fighter, they will dominate their opponent. They accomplish that by throwing some brutal knee all across their opponent recklessly.

The Muay Khao fighters are considered one of the most strong and toughest even amongst all the other Muay Thai fighters.

For example, you can look out for  Petchboonchu FA Group, he is one of the most decorated Muay Thai fighters.

How To Improve In The Muay Thai Clinch

Now you know all about the Muay Thai Clinch, now you should be thinking about improving your Clinch.

Do you know in the west, fighters train the clinch very little than the Thai Fighters. But every Muay Thai fighter should properly learn Muay Thai clinch.

Remember you can’t improve your clinch if you’re thinking about practicing about 2 to 3 rounds of clinch sparring at the end of your training sessions.

To master, you’ve to master two things first…

Strength Training

The Muay Khao fighters are known for their strength and technique. And that’s what makes them one of the best Muay Thai clinch fighters.

To improve your strength for a Clinch you have to do some heavy weight-lifting, firstly do some bodyweight training (using your body weight) then do the heavy weight lifting with some equipment.

Then increase your neck and back muscles strong, which will eventually help you to not get into your opponent’s clinch. It can also be helpful while your opponents pull your neck or head using some of the upper mentioned clinches.

Having a strong neck and back can also help you to absorb more powerful strikes with ease.

Grip Training

To improve your clinch game you have to have the power to hold your grip tightly, to control your opponent.

So, that’s being said now is time to increase your gripping power.

To do so you have to do some separate quality training with some pullup bars.

First, you have to hang into a pullup bar in some different variants of styles. Like wide grip pull-up hang, small grip hangs.

Then after the hang, you’ve to do some different pull-ups, like Wide-Grip Pull-Ups, Shoulder-Width Pull-Ups, Chin-Ups, Hammer-Grip Chin-Ups, Alternate-Side Chin-Ups, False-Grip Chin-Ups, try to do these grip training one by one systematically.

And never run after quantity, always put quality over quantity.

How To Escape From a Muay Thai Clinch

Source: Facebook

A Muay Thai clinch is a very technical aspect of Muay Thai, to escape from this kind of technique you’ve to become very tactical.

Here’s are some easy and simple tips to escape from a Muay Thai Clinch:-

Push the arm

This is a very easy way to escape from your opponent’s clinch while he is throwing some knees, just lift his left arm as fast as possible and circle to his one side.

You can quickly use your one hand to lift his left arm and use your other arm to put down his head by grabbing the backside of his head and then launch a knee to his face.


While Your opponent holds you in a clinch and tries to control you, to use his strikes. You quickly move your right arm over his by creating an over hook and using this hold you’ve to off-balance your opponent and deliver a knee to his face.

And always remember to attack as fast as you escape from the clinch. You’ve to attack as fast and as hard as you can, especially while you’re facing an aggressive opponent.

Hand to the face

And another and very common way to escape is to use your palm to push your opponent’s face away from you while moving your shoulder at the same time.

It will create a sudden force that’ll make him leave the clinch and make a distance from you.

If you can put enough force they will try to remove your hand from their face and they will allow you to attack.

Thumbnail Image Source: Pinterest

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