The Muay Thai clinch is one of the most important techniques of Muay Thai. It is essentially a method of holding an opponent in place, arms draped over the shoulders and hands clasped behind the neck. This makes it effective for controlling an opponent on both the offensive and defensive end.
Other control options include the double collar tie, single collar tie, bear hug, or the double underhook. From this position, Muay Thai fighters can launch a plethora of different attacks, including punches on the inside, but most commonly knee strikes.
Another technique that can be executed from the Muay Thai clinch is the sweep.
Thai legend and reigning ONE Bantamweight Muay Thai World Champion Nong-O Gaiyanghadao from the prestigious Evolve Fight Team often utilizes his technical mastery to dominate and control his foes in the clinch.
If you want to add the sweep technique to your Muay Thai game, who better to teach you than the legend himself? In the video above, Nong-O demonstrates how to execute the sweep from a clinch, and bring your opponents to the ground.
1) Block or initiate the clinch
Whether you are blocking or initiating the clinch, the goal is to secure a dominant position.
You have two options. Either throw a body kick at your opponent, closing the distance and moving into range for him to initiate the clinch, or move in to initiate the clinch yourself. When you do so, put your guard up close to your body, keeping the chin tucked down. This will protect you against any shots coming down the middle.
Your guard needs to be tight and not opened wide. If your guard is open, your opponent has a clear path to throw an elbow through your guard in close quarters. You want to keep your elbows tight and ready to defend against body attacks as well.
According to Nong-O, when you block the opponent’s arms as he moves in for the clinch, your arms should be blocking at his elbow joints. From here, you want to use your hands to lock his shoulders on both the left and right side.
2) Defend against the elbows and knees
The next step in the sequence is to move even closer to your opponent. Look down at your opponent’s waist, hips, and legs while keeping your chin nicely tucked in. You need to keep it tight and not give your opponent ample space to throw a knee strike. You want to make it difficult for him to do this.
From here, you have to make a read on your opponent, and determine which direction he is moving, and if he’s going to throw a left or a right knee. That way, you can counter that and deter that movement. Depending on the direction of your opponent, you will need to react accordingly.
At this point, you need to put a lot of weight on your arms, while holding down your opponent’s arms. Your arms must be strong and sturdy. This grappling exchange will aim to tire your opponent’s arms and sap a little bit of energy from him.
3) Grab and pull the shoulders
The final two steps to this sequence need to be executed in quick succession.
In the close clinch position, watch out for when your opponent throws his knee. If he throws a right knee, you want to push his shoulder with your left hand, while at the same time, pull his other shoulder with your right hand, creating a counter-movement. Left hand push, right hand pull.
When you pull his shoulder, move your right elbow closer to your body. While performing this maneuver, you also want to twist your upper body towards the side that you’re pulling. Twist and pull at the same time. This will cause your opponent to be thrown slightly off balance because his center of gravity will be favoring his left side.
This is your cue to sweep the leg.
4) Sweep the leg
The last and final step is to sweep the leg. Sweep your opponent’s leg from under him at the same time as when you twist your hips. Kick as low as possible, around the ankle.
Because some opponents throw a knee without jumping forward, and instead they plant their support foot, you can sweep that support foot and dump them to the ground.
Steps three and four must be performed at the same time, or at least in rapid succession, in order to be successful.
The secret to this technique is reading your opponent’s movement and anticipating when he will throw his knee. That’s when you, in one fell swoop, kick his ankle, effectively completing the sweep.
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