Knee Deep

I’ve been thinking this week about areas that I really want to start to develop in training. Although it’s been a shorter week than I’d like at the gym just due to life being life, I still managed to get a little time in doing my favourite thing. Which is of course working the clinch. Ironically enough it used to be the one element of Muay Thai that I would really not look forward to. But It’s like that sometimes. When I first started training way back when in 2007, I can distinctly remember my old trainers Dale and Paul telling the class that really clinching is an art within an art.  Kru Paul quite humbly said that there was a lot he was still learning about clinching and you always discover something new when you train it enough and of cause spar others just working this area of Muay Thai.

Of course I learnt that the clinch doesn’t just open the door for my knees, it opens them up for my elbows. On top of that there’s your locks, sweeps, trips and throws to take into consideration. Whoever says there isn’t really a lot to Muay Thai should probably look a little deeper. What we do may not be rocket science as one of my trainers often says, but let’s face it we have a lot of options. I think it’s more than reasonable to say that indeed clinch work is an art in itself.

So why do I want to start developing the clinch? well quite simply I’m finding that It’s an area of Muay Thai I’m getting better at and it’s where I feel comfortable fighting from. And even fighting at an amateur level which is where I am currently, there’s still a lot of options for me to bring into play,and I know that they will always serve me well  the more I drill and practice them. I’ve always found that clinch sparring like clinching when fighting is probably one of the more physically demanding elements of training, and I take the most away from doing 2 or 3 minute rounds of clinch work with different training partners of different shapes and sizes. At my old camp in Bournemouth when I had a fight coming up, these rounds would seem to last forever. Every time I thought I could leave the ring to have a rest someone new and fresher than the last would step in to put me through my paces. There’s no work like hard work.

I find that some of the most effective techniques in clinching are the most simple, and it’s empowering when you use someone’s own strength against them. (push pull ?) When of course you struggle and resist the whole process becomes nothing but hard work, and when I first started training this is what I spent a lot of time doing. I guess that’s only natural. When your fighting from this range as well I find that when you relax you pick your shots.We all know how devastating a well placed knee strike can be.

But in the same instance when your under real pressure I’ve learnt that it can be just as important to answer back just as quickly as you would with the rest of fighting. If you’ve ever seen or been in a fight you’ll be more than familiar with those voices yelling KNEE in unison as soon you find yourself deep in the clinch with someone. Although there’s a lot more to it than holding on for dear life and kneeing non stop. Although as a paradox, sometimes it can seem that’s all there is.

So I’m going to spend time building up this area of my fighting and training, it’s a strength that I’m hoping will continue to serve me well and it’s something that I feel that will help me  continue to develop into a  strong  well rounded fighter and martial artist. I thought I’d leave you this week with a short video on clinching that I hope you find useful. Have a good week, train hard and as always I’ll see you on the road.


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