Sunday, October 28, 2007

Fighting from the Clinch

Today I had another private training session with my MMA instructor. Though his primary training was boxing (he's an ex-pro boxer), he has a broad base in other martial arts and is training me to integrate skills from them all. Today's lesson involved fighting from the clinch.

Clinch work appears in a variety of martial arts, including muay thai (Thai boxing) and Brazilian Jiu-jitsu. Both approach the clinch somewhat differently due to the two arts different styles of fighting, but the two methods can be used together, as I experienced today.

To use the main muay thai clinch, you slip your arms around the attacker's neck, connecting them tightly around the back of the neck while keeping the elbows tightly together and close to your body. Once in this position, you can easily drive your knees into your attacker.

There are various kinds of clinches used in Brazilian Jiu-jitsu, they even incorporate the muay thai clinch as previously described. Today, we worked on using the skills that are trained in BJJ's commonly taught pummeling drill in which you slide your hand under your attacker's armpit, keeping your shoulder forward.

After training both skills, we integrated the two approaches and combined them with punches and kicks, which were used to create opportunities to enter the clinch. Using the BJJ skill of sliding your hand under the arm pit, you can create an opportunity to slide into the muay thai clinch so you can use your knees. It's also important to remember that when you finish your sequence of knee kicks to exit on an angle so you are less vulnerable to counterattacks. Even better to throw out a jab while exiting to further discourage retaliation.

I thoroughly enjoyed today's lesson, particularly because it reminds me of the importance of keeping an open mind when it comes to cross training in other martial arts. I'm not a huge fan of the macho attitudes that have arisen as a result of the popularity of MMA (mixed martial arts) competition. That being said, I believe that it has encouraged more sharing between the various arts, leading to innovation. This is one of the ways that the Western mindset has positively influenced martial arts training.

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