In mixed martial arts several different types of clinching styles can be utilized: the Muay Thai clinch, the one-arm dirty boxing clinch, and the wrestling clinch. To become proficient in MMA, you must not only understand the core principles of each style, but you must also understand how to blend them together. A fighter who can tie his opponent up in the Muay Thai Clinch, land a couple of knees, and then transition to the wrestling clinch and execute a throw is a lot more dangerous than a fighter who is only proficient with one clinching style.
Because it's nearly impossible to master all clinching styles at the same time, you should first concentrate on the clinch game that you most gravitate toward. If you come from a Muay Thai background or you derive the most enjoyment from training Muay Thai, focusing on the Muay Thai clinch is a good place to start. Once you feel confident with your Thai clinch, start experimenting with the wrestling or dirty boxing clinch to make your game stronger. Not only will this increase your offensive options, but if you should find yourself fighting an opponent who is a wrestler, you'll have an understanding of what his actions and reactions will be. After you have added a number of techniques from a second clinching style, start playing around with the third. The more techniques you add to your base, the more dangerous you become. You will also be a lot more prepared to deal with the numerous scenarios that can occur in MMA competition.
The wrestling clinch is based largely upon hip and body control, and it's structured around scoring a throw, a body-lock takedown, a double-leg takedown, or a single-leg takedown. The primary battle is to pummel your arms underneath your opponent's arms and secure the double under-hooks, the details of which will be explained in the upcoming section. Generally when playing this clinch you want to keep a low center of gravity so you can shoot in for the takedown, but a lot of Greco Roman wrestlers and Judoka prefer to stand more erect because it better allows them to execute throws. With thousands of dangerous wrestlers entering the sport each year, learning the intricacies of the wrestling clinch is mandatory for survival.
The Muay Thai clinch can be a truly devastating position because of the elbow and knee strikes that become available. This clinch is quite different from the wrestling clinch because it is based on head control. Instead of working to pummel your arms underneath your opponent's arms to establish the under-hooks, you're pummeling in for your opponent's head. Once you gain control of your opponent's head, you want to constantly cut angles while pushing and pulling your opponent off balance. This exposes his body and makes him vulnerable to powerful knee strikes.
The dirty boxing clinch works wonderfully for wrestlers and of course "dirty boxers" who are used to controlling their opponent's head and striking at the same time. Randy Couture is a perfect example of a fighter who has mastered the dirty boxing clinch. The idea is to gain control of your opponent's head with one arm, and then use that control to push, pull, and jerk your opponent off balance as you deliver punches to his gut and face with your free hand. Wrestlers particularly like this clinch because they retain a base that allows them to quickly drop in for a takedown or execute a throw.
It is very important to incorporate clinching drills into your daily training. In order to develop a dangerous clinch game, you must drill and drill and drill. You should be doing pummeling drills, sparring from the clinch with knees, and practicing takedowns from the clinch. You should spend time sparring from the individual clinches, as well as spar utilizing all the clinches together. You should engage in style vs. style matches where you can only use your wrestling clinch against your partner's Muay Thai clinch. Such a drill allows you to feel what is going on, which tells you what you must do to make your style effective against opponents who utilize a different clinching style. Play around as much as possible.
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