Clinching is one of the best tactics to use in sparring and competition fighting whether you are fighting with Wing Chun, Muay Thai, or Boxing. Often in boxing matches you see two fighters clinch and the referee has to break them up. Obviously, clinching in boxing works a little different than in a kickboxing or MMA match where the fighters utilize various styles such as Wing Chun, Muay Thai, Karate, and Judo. Regardless, having a strong clinch game can improve your overall fighting ability tremendously.
Clinching serves various functions including giving you time to rest if you need to, if you have your opponent pressed into the ropes, it will tire him out as well. You can also use the clinch to launch an offense whether punches, knees, or takedowns. The clinch can also be used as means to control the distance. If your opponent wants to avoid clinching with you, then he’ll probably try to keep his distance which could open him up for kicks. If he’s trying to avoid your kicks or long range game, then he may seek the clinch. Knowing this, you can use a long range game to draw him into the clinch if that’s to your advantage. Bottomline is the clinch is an excellent way to play with distance and frustrate your opponent.
Obviously, there are various types of clinches such as the classic Muay Thai clinch, over/under, etc. Learn to fight and work in the clinch. The clinch is nice because from here, there is less worry about getting hit with your opponent’s power shots if he’s a heavy hitter. From this distance you can take advantage of any weakness he may have in his balance and staying on his feet. Lower your hips and sink your weight to take him down. It’s difficult to hurt your opponent in the clinch with boxing gloves. Knees and elbows work best if they are allowed in the match you’re fighting. Obviously, takedowns are ideal because from the takedown you can usually land multiple shots if you get top position. You can also use the clinch to press your opponent against the ropes or cage to tire him out while allowing you to rest. Try not to struggle in the clinch, use your legs and body structure to do the work or you’ll tire yourself out.
There are many ways to train the clinch and make it strong. The best is simply by clinching and getting practice working your strikes and takedowns. Chi Sao is also excellent at improving your ability to enter the clinch and gain a superior position. In fact, Chi Sao may be a more helpful exercise for clinching than for striking. Most Wing Chun practitioners use Chi Sao to improve their striking, but from Chi Sao range, the punches lack power even when using proper structure. However, when applied to clinching and grappling, the concepts and energy used in Chi Sao are highly effective. Forward pressure and connecting the elbow to the rest of the body are essential when working the clinch. Chi Sao will assist you in obtaining the desired hand position in the clinch.
In future articles, I’ll go into more details for types of clinches, strikes, and takedowns from the clinch. For now, understand that the clinch is excellent for controlling the distance, frustrating your opponent, giving you time to rest, take advantage of a possible weakness in your opponent, useful if you don't want to trade blows, and an excellent application of Chi Sao. Thank you for reading.
Wishing you happiness, health, and peace.
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