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Sparring>Tactics>Clinching

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Clinching

Intro

A clinch is defined as the position two people are in when they are holding each other tightly in their arms during fighting or when they are expressing love for one another. As martial artists, we are usually more involved with the first part of the definition.

In fighting, a clinch is used to:
  • Tie up the opponent’s arms so he or she cannot use them to strike you. It is used to stop an onslaught or to give you a short opportunity to rest. Is also helps prevent the opponent from using other attacks, such as kicks or with the knees. 
  • Fight for an advantageous grip on the opponent or the opponent’s clothing.
  • Switch from stand-up fighting to ground fighting by using takedowns, throws, or sweeps.
The clinch is used by many martial arts, primarily those that use grappling, such as judo, mixed martial arts, wrestling, and sambo. In competition, different martial arts use it in different ways. Judo allows it when the fighters are fighting for a grip or if it leads to a throw or takedown attempt. Muay Thai uses elbow and knee strikes from the clinch. Other martial arts, such as boxing or taekwondo do not allow it or only allow it briefly. The referee will break the fighters and issue a warning to the clinching fighter. In these arts, if the fighter continues to use clinches, he or she may receive point deductions.

The way a clinch is used depends on the type of uniform the fighters can wear. When the fighters wear heavyweight jackets, such as the judogi, clinches are used to grab the jacket and use it used to gain leverage or unbalance the opponent to set up a throw. When there is no heavy clothing use, clinches may use techniques such as double under-hooks to lead into a throw or to “get the back” of the opponent.

Clinching setup

When clinching is allowed, arms and hand positions are important. You want to keep your arms inside of the opponent's arms so you can press your elbows together and get a tighter grip. Try to keep your hands in a "cupping" position so you have a more powerful grip.

When clinching, your feet and body may be close to the opponent or back from the opponent, depending on what you are trying to accomplish. You may be close in to use knee strikes and you may be far back to avoid strikes or takedowns until you establish your grip.

Striking

Depending on the martial arts and the rules, strikes may be allowed in a clinch. Some arts allow punches, and elbow strikes in a clinch, such as Muay Thai, and some, such as Lethwei allow headbutts. The clinch allows the fighter to pull the opponent in or down into a strike.
Submission techniques

If permitted, some submission holds may be applied effectively from the clinch, such as the guillotine choke, the arm triangle, rear-naked choke, and Ezekiel choke. Judo permits standing chokes and they can be highly effective.

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