Today, we will be taking a look at one of the more important and prominent positions in fighting (let alone mixed martial arts) – the clinch hold. Also known as “clinching hold,” it is a grappling position in which both opponents are standing, looking for a certain lock which will eventually lead to a takedown of sorts.
The clinch hold is also noted to be one of the main strategies to keep the opponent close enough to avoid hard strikes.
Entering the clinch, or “closing the gap,” is not an easy task, as the opponent can quickly throw some hard blows that could connect and do some heavy damage on the aggressor. However, it can be noted that achieving a low center of gravity and protecting the face with the forearms crossed over are the two best strategies to get inside for a clinch.
Once the aggressor has charged in, he will want to remain low, and use his legs to dig his dominant shoulder into the chest of the opponent. At that point, a number of holds can be applied, so long as the grab is performed correctly.
The first hold that a clinch can achieve is the bear hug. Most people understand that a bear hug is a tight grip around a person in which their arms are trapped beneath the aggressor. The arms can be wrapped around the chest or midsection from this position.
From here, one can almost always take the opponent down with either a throw, or a transition into an inverted bear hug, which shows the aggressor’s hands locked around the back of the opponent, and the aggressor’s head pushing firmly into the sternum.
Another clinch hold is the collar tie. This is one of the simpler grabs upon entering the clinch, where the aggressor wraps his arm up the back of the opponent, grabbing either the back of the neck or the trapezius.
The double-handed version is most prominent in Muay Thai fighting, and is much easier to take an opponent down, as a number of throws can be done from here. Knee strikes can also be done from the double-handed collar tie.
A variation of closing the gap for a collar-tie-into-knee-strikes would be to throw punches in bunches (left-right-left hook-uppercuts). This catches the opponent off-guard, and the collar tie can be applied from here.
Much like the bear hug, the overhook is another clinch hold that controls the opponent in the standing game. This is simply done by putting an arm over the opponent’s arm and locking (or encircling) that arm around the opponent’s arm. This can be done with one or both arms, and it is a fairly nice counter to an opponent’s underhook, and a great preventative tactic to avoid a bear hug.
Finally, a pinch tie grip is the gateway to any of the above holds, in which the arms are wrapped around the opponent’s back and locked via hand-to-wrist, finger-locked, or palm-to-palm. It is fairly easy to transition into underhooks or a double collar tie, but it can also lead to a throw or a variation to over-under position. Either way, the goal is to take the opponent out of his guard and into the defensive.
From any of these positions, the aggressor would like to end the fight, as is with most grappling techniques.
As seen with the double collar tie, strikes with the knees can be applied, but “dirty boxing” techniques have been effectively used, as well.
The guillotine chokehold is a great submission to apply from the collar tie; however, the advantage is always in favor of a taller fighter to achieve this type of lock.
Check out this video for more great tips on clinch fighting!