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Unexpected Defensive Sweeps with Jean Charles Skarbowsky

Unexpected Defensive Sweeps with Jean Charles Skarbowsky


Attack options from the clinch position can sometimes feel minimal. Though there is a larger option of attacks in mixed martial arts as opposed to strictly Jiu-Jitsu, wrestling, or boxing, it is still difficult to find angles and level change from the clinch.

With both opponents having collar ties in a clinch position, the most accessible attacks typically come from the knees. There are many strategies to land knees from this position, and because of that it is important to train to defend the knees as well.

In the video below, Jean Charles Skarbowsky demonstrates a sweep from defending the knees while in clinch. Check it out!


Jean Charles begins the video by offering some explanation on what to expect in the clinch. He shares that rather than an opponent sending a knee straight up the middle, often they will go to the outside striking either the leg or the torso. While breaking down an opponent's leg is definitely successful, if you can make it up to their ribs it will hurt much worse.

Often for your opponent to be able to get their knee  up to your ribs, they are going to have to jump. This is where you get to take advantage of their lack of balance.

It is important to be able to judge what your opponent is coming at you with so you can begin to anticipate what is coming next. In this example, Jean Charles states that maybe your opponent has attacked one outside knee to the leg and then a jumping knee to your ribs successfully. Chances are if it was effective and you are in the same position, he is going to go for that jumping knee again.

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This is the perfect scenario to set up a sweep. First off, when in a clinch you are going to have one arm occupied in a collar tie, and the other on the inside of your opponent's elbow if possible. When your opponent jumps, you are going to kick the leg he is jumping off of to the inside while using your collar tie and elbow grip to pull him to the outside. Kicking the leg and pulling the upper half of their body in opposite directions literally sweeps them off of their feet. From here you have endless attack options now that they are on the ground and you are standing.

Timing in this move is imperative. Any good fighter and particularly one who trains Muay Thai and understands Muay Thai sweeps is going to know that they are at risk when they are in the air. Hence why it is probably wise not to go for this as soon as your opponent goes for their first knee in the clinch. 

They are going to want to see what they will be able to get away with. Maybe they are successful once, then twice, and they start thinking this is their opportunity to really jump ahead in the fight. When they think they have it and they commit to it in perhaps their third attempt, this is the perfect time for the sweep. Now this is not saying to sit there and take two excruciating knees before you go for the sweep, but keep that general idea of timing in the back of your head while training or fighting.

Jean Charles Skarbowsky has made quite the name for himself over the years. With over 100 professional fights on his record, this French former kickboxer and 3 time European Muay Thai Champion has a dense resume of training and fighting all over the world.

After a two year hiatus from breaking his right hand while defending his title in Europe in 1997, he made a stunning come back and his career took off.  In 2010 he made an appearance on the television show The Ultimate Fighter where he was a Muay Thai coach for George St. Pierre’s team. A highlight of that season was the amazement in the eyes of his students when they saw the skill and technique that he brought to the table.

This four part instructional has a seemingly infinite amount of technique packed into it. From stance, eye contact, feints, and timing to a huge assortment of blocks, sweeps, and counters, he covers it all. This instructional offers insight from one of the best Muay Thai coaches in the world, and teaches techniques from the most basic to the most advanced levels.

Intermediate Edition: Muay Thai Masterclass by Jean-Charles Skarbowsky

To get your hands on material that will add to your repertoire of striking knowledge from one of the most sought after coaches in the world, check out his instructional here!