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Countering The Clinch With Liam Harrison

Countering The Clinch With Liam Harrison


If you have spent any time watching Muay Thai or Mixed Martial Arts you have most likely seen a Thai Clinch. Or Thai Plum as it is often referred to. When one fighter controls their opponent with two hands on the back of their opponent’s head.  

This position allows for the controlling fighter to dictate direction and balance. It also creates the shortest pathway for knees, elbows and strikes to the inside. In addition, it creates a barrier so the person getting punched cannot use head movement to get away.

The end of Rich “ACE” Franklin’s reign as middleweight championship came in largely due to the Thai Clinch. Or More importantly his inability to counter or find his way out. No fault to Rich in this as many seasoned fighters has trouble navigating their way out of the dangerous position.

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There are several ways to deal with a Thai Clinch. The obvious is to muscle out or try to throw the other fighter off of you. This method works great early on, but after 3 to 5 minutes of striking, the likelihood a fighter will have that kind of gas tank to shuck the fighter off is slim to nill, even if they do manage now they are gassed and subject to the effects of exhaustion.

Second, a Fighter can choose to engage or re-clinch. Simply put, it is the idea of dog fighting from a disadvantageous position. This method can be effective, but tactically the odds are in favor of the fighter who has established inside position.

Note the idea of inside position is where both arms are inside and connected to the inside of the other fighter’s arms. This can be neck holds, shoulder post, bicep grips. The closer to center line a fighter’s arms are the greater chance to land controlled strikes will be.

This leaves the last and most effective way to exit a Thai Clinch. That is the disengage counter.

The disengage counter is exactly what it’s name implies Disengage from the clinch then immediately re-engage with a strike.

This is done in many ways, circling out and body kick counter, pushing off with the arms then combo to body and head, lifting the arms and a leg kick. The concept is the same in all of these with one key theme, get away first.

If we are fighting in a system where elbows and knees are legal why not counter with the most dangerous weapon we have in close range. The elbow.

Look how Liam Harrison sets up his elbow with a unique way to disengage the clinch!


Look how Liam breaks the grip on his neck; he doesn’t chop down on the elbow. Instead he slides along the forearm back to the wrist then throws his hand down.

The motion is fast as the movement is initiated by a big step back, but Liam stays on his toes,

 As His hand pulls the elbow down clearing it from the centerline, Liam pushes off that same leg to reengage.

Driving his Elbow back into the opponent’s face! Devastating.

Liam is still currently fighting and has lots to offer. Check out his instructional were he goes over more clinch breaks, and tons of great Muay Thai.

Power Muay Thai by Liam Harrison

I enjoy Liam as his style is more Killer than Thriller. You wont see inverted flying kicks out of him, but you will see solid fundamental Muay Thai used to demolish some of the best strikers in the world! See what he has to offer with Power Muay Thai!