In modern MMA circles, the Thai Clinch, or “plumm,” is a term used to describe a single position called the “double-collar”. This is a dominant position with both hands laced in between the top of the opponent’s spine and the base of the skull. Brutal knees to the head and body can be subsequently delivered with extreme force. Simply acquiring the double collar position is a very subtle art in and of itself, but on its own, it is not the traditional “Thai Clinch.”
Traditionally the Thai Clinch is an homogeneous term for the Muay Thai philosophy that embodies the use of the clinch. In MMA it is hard to think of anyone who has represented this philosophy better than the Spider, Anderson Silva. In Muay Thai, the clinch is used to throw opponents, just like wrestling. But the purpose is not always to score a take-down. In Muay Thai, the opponent is either thrown off-balance and hit as he attempts to stay upright and/or thrown hard to the mat. Or even thrown to the mat and hit on the way down. This is a style of clinch fighting geared toward devastation more than toward a take-down and achieving a pinning position. The overall philosophy is to inflict as much pain and discomfort upon the opponent as to take away his/her will to fight.
This is truly the difference between fighters who flail to grab a hold of their opponents head and try to knee, and someone like Silva who will set up his grips scientifically. In MMA, it is not just possible to catch the opponent with a hard strike while they are off balance on the way down, but also when they are regaining their balance on the way up. Using the Thai Clinch to control and steer the opponent into elbows, punches and even into crisp, low kicks while still holding the opponent’s head is why the Thai Clinch has transformed stand-up techniques in Mixed Martial Arts.
The Thai Clinch, from a striker’s perspective is becoming more and more prominent in MMA. Silva has shown how effective the clinch can be as a platform for striking. It has become an overwhelming success when used defending a grappler in the clinch. The future will show how much more effective striking from the clinch in MMA can be. And the Thai Clinch and the Muay Thai philosophy are transforming the sport of Mixed Martial arts.
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