• Xenforo Cloud server migration is now complete. Thank you for your patience!

Wrestling to Muay Thai Clinch Problems


White Belt
Apr 29, 2004
Reaction score
Hey bros, my background is 5 years wrestling and one year muay thai. Now that I got a good understanding on the basics I am trying to find my niche, and I want it to be clinching. I am very good at muscling my opponent's head down, but my clinch is too similar to a wrestling one. My instructor wants me to stay on my toes with my head up not grinding into my opponent's head, and create distance for the knees with my elbows in my opponents shoulders.

However, after a few Muay Thai fights I plan to take up a little BJJ and compete in MMA. I am afraid I am going to lose my balance to much and be thrown with this style of clinching. Does anyone have any thoughts on how to form a good clinch I can knee, elbow and take people down with?

Also is there any benefit to my wrestling clinch background that I could implement in muay thai.

Thanks (this was also posted in the grappling forum for the grapplers point of view)
No, this clinch that your instructor is telling you will work for MMA.

You're allowed to throw in Muay Thai, too. The only difference is, you're not allowed to do any Judo or Wrestling takedowns. But you're allowed to swing him off balance, throwing him to the floor, or sweep the leg (there are certain ways you're allowed to sweep, I'm not totally sure what's allowed and what's not in that case, but I'm pretty sure it needs to be a kicking motion).

So the clinch in Muay Thai also keeps you balanced and prevents you from being thrown.

Plus, if you have the inside control, I don't see how someone else can throw you. And why would you want to grind your head into his, when you can throw knees to his head?

There are different types of clinches. If you're looking for a takedown, go for a Greco-Roman (overhook-underhook) clinch. If you're looking to dominate with knees, go for a Thai clinch.
You can throw knees from that position, just be careful not to hit the groin. Throw them to the midsection. Aim for the liver (right side of his body), spleen (left side of his body), or solar plexus (right under the sternum).

A cool trick that Bas Rutten would do, is he'd get a front headlock clinch on a guy, standing up. He'd watch his opponent's breathing rhythm. Bas would wait for the guy to breathe IN, then he'd hit him with a hard left knee to the liver. This works awesome. It knocks the wind out of him, and it's a liver shot. You could try it with the Greco clinch.
Thanks iceman, I know Bas has many different books and dvds; do any of these cover this (his clinching method) in them?
eaglewrestler27 said:
Thanks iceman, I know Bas has many different books and dvds; do any of these cover this (his clinching method) in them?

Actually, unfortunately, Bas doesn't show a whole lot about clinching. He focuses more on kickboxing, takedowns, and submissions. Oh, and he has some good stuff on ground and pound.

Honestly, I'd say listen to your Muay Thai coach, and use your wrestling skills. You know a lot more about clinching than you think. And so do your coaches.
in order to be most effective in MMA with your clinch you have to be flexible.

I think the best clinch is taking your underhook and gripping his deltoids isolating that arm. Now bring this arm in tight to your shoulder so he can't pull it out without a fight. Keep your head either close to this grip on his shoulder, and use this arm to manipulate his underhooked arm for techniques, or bring your head across his other arm for blocking it for takedowns or jamming his arm to keep from punching effectively.The other hand should alternate from controlling his head gripping the back of his neck by the traps to blocking his other arm by putting the hand into the crook of his elbow. This is a solid Greco style clinch, and you can really strike well using the trap arm uppercutting to the face and taking shots on his exposed side. Isolating his arm and controlling it with this dominant grip on his shoulder will have his fighting to free that arm to improve his position.

use this to set up takedowns and you can also slip into a full MT clinch from here pretty easy if he fights to get out of this underhook grip.

If you find yourself in trouble and he's pummeling with you, go to a basic 50/50 body-lock with each of you having one underhook. From here you can throw little knees and punch with your underhook hand, but I'd work to get back to that dominant greco single-underhook with head/arm control position again, and pepper your takedown attempts and strikes from here with slipping into a MT clicn and landing knees when you see an opportunity.

Remember though that most time you can get away with getting both arms to inside controll for the MT clinch is also a time you could have probably executed a successfull clicnh throw, so you have to decide what your priority is based on your strengths and that of your oponent. Agaisnt a guy with a dangerous groundgame off his back and less good takedowns then I'd go for the MT clicnh and knees. If he's bad on his back with good striking and stuff then I'd be looking to take him down.

Hopefully this is usefull.
Im not going to give you any specific advice, but I will say this: consider the rules of wrestling...the rules of muay thai....the rules of MMA....youre in a muay thai class, youre going to be doing a different kind of clinch....I would listen to your coach if I were you, but dont get rusty on your wrestling stuff....if you can, try to practice it regularly with other wrestlers, or willing participants in your muay thai class....in time you will be able to blend the two together...it just takes practice.
Iceman knows what he's talking about, that's some good advice there.
Thanks for all the advice guys, very imformative posts by Iceman and I-Shoji.

I plan to dedicate to my thursdays for 2.5 hours to just greco. I'm going to try and explain to my wrestling coaches that my goal is MMA and see if the can help me work the throws into a modifed clinch that allows for knees.
I have a wrestling background too so i know where you're comming from. If you're doing a proper thai clinch I don't see how your head is grinding the other ones down. I can see you starting there while you pummel for inside control but then once you've got it it's explosive. You're cupping the back of his neck and your elbows are in real tight but also a little out and you're doing a snap down or snap side motion using your weight extended through your tight elbows to throw the clinch-ee off balance which you would get most leverage from by keeping your back arched chest out and head up. It's got to be explosive too because once you get that clinch the guy isn't gonna just be chillin there waiting for you to knee him in the face or body.

Think the basic wrestling snap down for body posture and also think russian tie-up for getting position and then being able to stand completely straight up once you feel that control.