Advice on clinching please...

Can anyone advise me on the correct hand positioning during clinching?

At my current gym, I've been told to lock my forearms around the neck keeping the elbows tight together to prevent it being broken, and with the hands positioned on the back of the head.

However, I've been taught in the past to lock my forearms around the side of the head/face and to keep my hands slightly higher on the back of the head. The reason for this is because it's much harder for someone to fight against your clinch if you're totally controlling the head - the lower you hold, I've found that people can drag me about using brute force.

I've had no problems using the method that I was first taught but it really freaks out my partners where I am training right now because I can more easily pull their heads into a knee; but they keep telling me to grip lower?!

I don't know whether I was told to do this because I'm shorter and lighter than a lot of people.

What do you guys think?

I've always been taught to clinch higher on the back of the head, NOT the back of the neck. Even with your clinch on the back of someones head, your forearms should still 'pinch' in on the sides of the neck, specifically on the carotids. Even though this doesn't restrict blood flow to the brain enough to make your opponent pass out, it can be enough to make them light-headed.

Even though I never try to say that another gyms methods are wrong, because in Muay Thai, there are different strokes for different folks, I see absolutely no advantage to grasping on the back of your opponents neck. It gives your opponent too much opportunity to fight out of it and escape.

Khun Kao

Khun Kao is definitely correct on this one. Believe it or not, Muay Thai IS based on technique... not just brute power. You do want to grip high on the head (you get much better leverage with your weight here, and it's much more difficult for someone to keep their head up) AND still have your arms positioned around the neck as Khun Kao said. Never mind what the people are telling you. If you get them down, they're essentially KO'd -- or in big trouble.

Holding the head puts your opponent at a mechanical disadvantage as they are forced to rely on the muscles of the neck to dictate how well they resist your clinch.
On the neck they are able to use all the strength of their back muscles. with your hands on their head the are still using the same muscles, but (and here is the key reason) the neck muscles become the weak link.
They cannot use the same force to pull away because they simply overload the weaker neck muscles.
I should add that if your instructor has taught you properly you should know how to circumvent this, and it sounds as though the people you train with have not.

Now having said all this I will tell you there are times to shift your hand positioning while you are clinching to affect your opponent differently and to set yourself up for different things in the clinch.
So I won't say that you would never grasp the neck, there are times you very much need to position there.
But as a general rule for control the base of the skull (occipital) is where you want to be.

Thanks for your insight. It's helped to confirm my feeling on this too.

As well as the info in this thread, you should read the archives. Theres alot of info on the clinch in there!

Hope this helps,


Pat Miletich Instructional says the same thing , grab high on the head not on the neck !!!!