One of the important skills every Muay Thai fighter needs to develop is clinch defense. Good clinchers can make your life hell with their constant pressure and ability to lock you down in the clinch. For this reason, it is important to understand how to prevent the clincher from getting into the clinch.
If you can prevent the clincher from getting inside the clinch, you will be able to maintain the advantage throughout the fight as your opponent desperately tries to gain clinch entry. This will often result in your opponent getting sloppy, which can open them up for strong counter attacks.
Since Petchboonchu is one of the best clinchers of all time, I thought it would be appropriate for him to demonstrate how to defend against the clinch. Someone who knows how to get into the clinch, would know the best way to counter clinch entry.
In the video below, Petchboonchu breaks down a basic defense to the clinch entry.
How to Prevent Entry into the Clinch
Footwork and Movement
To stop an oncoming opponent from locking you down into the clinch you need to learn how to circle away from them as they move forward. By circling out every time you opponent tries to engage, they will be forced to readjust their position and proceed to follow you again.
Circling out and counter attacking can allow you to score quick points as your opponent follows you around the ring. If you don’t have good footwork, you need to develop your footwork before you learn to circle out.
It is important for you to practice your footwork in the mirror, then slowly work on it in training. Once you get used to the timing and movement, you can slowly start implementing these tips in your sparring sessions.
Using the Long Guard
Another tool you can use when an opponent is coming forward is your long guard. The long guard can be used to push your opponent away and gain more space as they are coming forward. You need to be careful that you don’t get too sloppy with this guard, otherwise your opponent may land some hard punches through your guard.
The long guard is a great tool that you can use to stop the forward momentum of an opponent, while keeping yourself protected. Be careful of uppercuts when you use this guard, as some fighters with good boxing skills may try to take advantage of openings.
Utilize Teeps and Jabs
A good teep and jab can help disrupt the forward momentum of your opponent. By utilizing the teep and jab against your opponent in combination with circling out, you will be able to control the ring and stop their forward aggression.
These techniques are good for controlling the space and distance, but if you back up in a straight line your opponent will eventually smother you. Good footwork will allow you to work your angles and control the distance with your teeps.
Sweeps and Throws
Once your opponent engages in the clinch, you can quickly trip them off balance. If you manage to sweep your opponent, you will be able to reset the position in the clinch to the center of the ring. Constantly resetting your position will make it difficult for your opponent to lock you down.
Learn How to Clinch
If you face a good clincher, you can’t avoid clinching forever. A good clincher will find a way to get inside your clinch, regardless of your footwork and defensive tactics. Unless you are far superior in skill than your opponent, they will find some success in closing the distance against you.
This means that you need to learn how to clinch effectively, even if you don’t like clinching. You can’t get away with a subpar clinch in Muay Thai, unless you only plan on fighting K-1/Kickboxing fights. Muay Thai is all about clinching. So, you better get used to clinching against good fighters who can lock you down.
It is important to practice clinch entry and defense in training. When you are clinching with your sparring partners, you should actively try to block them from gaining easy entry into your clinch. Conversely, you should also practice your own clinch entry as well.
Practice is the only way you will develop the necessary skills to become proficient in the clinch.
Special thanks to Petchboonchu for demonstrating this technique. If you want to train with Petchboonchu you can learn more over at Evolve Vacation.