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Clinch Drills By The lumberjack

Clinch Drills By The lumberjack

There are three generally accepted ranges that a fighter can be in during a match. Long distance is at the very end of a kick, mid range which is where long jabs and crosses are landed, then close range where short uppercuts and clinchwork happens in kickboxing. 

The problem with the ladder of the ranges is, if you want to clinch you have to safely get into close range. Then you have to maintain that position. If you are dealing with any elite striker they will punish you on the way into the clinch. 

So how do you get into close range safely? And what do you do once you are there? How do you maintain the position?

That is what three time K-1 Grand Prix Champion Peter Aerts is here to show you! 


The Dutch Lumberjack jokingly tells you, that if you walk forward with your hands open you are going to get punched in the face. No one would do this but his point is, there must be some form of defensive hand postures to prevent punches from making their way through. 

Peter shows that he likes to advance for a clinch with his lead arm forward and bent at the elbow. Leading with the Elbow can both prove to be a weapon but also leaves your hand spring loaded to grab for the head/neck once in range. 

This may arm position may appear strange but go watch journeymen MMA fighters or kickboxers, they will often lead with their arms straight forward, reaching out for the clinch and as Peter warned about, they get punched in the face...A lot.

For Peters trailing arm he has his palm forward anticipating a strike from the front hand but can also cover the side of his head if his opponent lunges for a check hook. 

Once Peter is in range, that spring loaded front hand grabs the neck, and his trailing arm snakes its way to the inside position of his opponent's lead arm. Both arms grabbing the neck and beginning to pull down to establish a controlling position by breaking the posture of his partner. 

Get Peter's complete striking manual here! Click Learn More!



Once this position is established Peter can throw Elbows and knees or choose to drive their head off center line to create an unbalancing effect and attack with sweeps. 

Maintaining this position is a skill that needs to be mastered. Recovering from being put in a clinch is also a valuable skill. 

As with most combat related techniques, Clinchwork is a perishable skill. Athletes must drill and practice clinch work if they wish to be truly effective with it. 

Peter shows that a quick drill will help maintain sharp clinch mechanics. The overall theme Peter is trying to get across is to maintain inside control. 

To start the drill, have one hand on the neck of your partner and one hand on the elbow or wrist (same side arm) 

Take the outside arm and and work it to the inside of  your partners arm and onto the back of their neck. At this point both of your hands should be locked in a Thai Clinch behind your partner's neck. 

Your partner will now work one arm at a time to the inside of your arms until they have established a strong clinch.

Start with low resistance and increase resistance as time goes on. This will help create good neural pathways so you will quickly react in clinching situations when going live. 

To many this drill seems rudimentary and basic. It very well might be but the phrase “it's all about the basics” and “Get back to the basics” seems to ring true here. Not to mention that the person teaching the drill is one of the most technical Heavyweight kickboxers in History. 

Given the name the Dutch Lumberjack for both his size and ability to chop down the competition, Peter Aerts has been competing at the highest level of kickboxing since 1985. Winning his first kickboxing championship during the early height of the sport in 1990 when he won the IKBF Heavyweight title. 

Before MMA and Muay Thai were present on the international stage, Kickboxing was on the rise as the next big thing in combat sports. Starting in the early 1980’s people like Bill “Superfoot” Wallace and Benny “The Jet” were traveling the world taking on everything from Pro-boxers to Karate champions under kickboxing rules. 

This was the world Peter Aerts stepped into, a highly competitive sport, and the Dutch had both a love and knack for kickboxing eventually creating a style all their own. 

Peter has become a living legend in the world of combat sports. At 49 years old he is still competing at the highest level. Some fighters wait too long before they retire, racking up embarrassing losses and articles come out about being “past their prime”. 

This cannot be said about Peter, The Dutch Lumberjack had a fight earlier this year (1-19-20) and another 7 months before that (5-4-19) against stiff competition. In Germany he faced Christian Muller, at Just under the two minute mark of the first round Peter hit Muller with a devastating right and followed with an immediate knee to the body. Muller was able to stand but the ground was not stable beneath him. KO Victory at 48 years old for Aerts. 

The more recent fight was with the Japanese kickboxing promotion Heat. Their Champion Kusunoki Jairo who stood a foot shorter than Aerts but had all the weight to equalize the field. Jairo had the love of the locals as the Japanese adored David vs Goliath type fights.

Jairo was reminiscent of Eric Esch (Butterbean) walking forward taking damage then throwing huge punches once in range. Jairo Also threw some kicks but it was Aerts who showed his defensive prowess and at 49 years old threw thunderous kicks to both legs and body. 

Midway through the first round Jairo began to taunt Aerts, inviting him to stand and slug it out. This was probably not a wise choice. A man that holds a nickname like “The Dutch Lumberjack” with over 100 pro wins, one as recently as 7 months prior is not a man you wish to anger.

When the second round started Peter threw a leg kick followed by a one, two combination that landed clean. Much like in Germany months previous his opponent fell to his knees. Jairo rose to his feet but after taking another leg kick, he fell to the ground. The power Peter holds broke the will of a man half his age and allowed him to continue his winning legacy. 

Knowing his skills are valuable and his passion for fighting continues to be as strong as ever, Peter trains new fighters at his Gym in The Netherlands. For those of us who cannot travel to Europe to train with the great Aerts we have to settle for his instructional series with Dynamic Striking.. 

The Lumberjack Manual is  Peters Detailed approach to fighting and training. Filled with expert level information and tips. The two part series goes over how to throw and when to utilize low kicks, High kicks. How to properly block punches and kicks from both sides in a way that will let you counter with shots of your own. 

Peter Aerts has really taken his time to outline what it takes to win the kickboxing game. He details ways to build power on the bag, and how to properly work pads to improve technical prowess. 

The Lumberjack Manual by Peter Aerts
This is great information for any Kickboxer, Karate/TKD Competition and MMA Fighters who need both a training program and solid kickboxing fundamentals. It is only available here!