Clinch - Cro-bar escape???

Attn Khun Kao or anyone else who can assist:
In a recent thread Khun Kao went into detail regarding
clinching, which I read and enjoyed (Thanks Khun).

Can someone expand on his "Cro - bar" escape from the
clinch when opponent gains head control? He mentioned
sliding an arm over the opponents arm, then under the other arm & levering out of the clinch.

I have played around with it in sparring but found it
to be not very effective - I need some further advice
on this technique please. I'm sure I'm doing it wrong.


Damn Brett, I couldn't have put it any better. =)

Khun Kao

Say your opponent has inside head control with both his hands behind your head. Take your right arm and go over his left arm and under his right arm. Take your left hand and grab your right hand and push up thereby creating space under his right arm. Take your left hand and slide it where space was created by the push. Work your left hand back up behind your opponents neck and try to get belly to belly. Thats essentially how Khun Kao taught me. Hope I could help.



Now that's an interesting variation. I'll have to try it out in class...

Khun Kao

Khun Kao - That is the only way Jeff has showed us to escape from a tight clinch in which your head is down. Could you describe your techniques?

I escape from the clinch by posting on his hip with my left arm. This keeps distance and keeps his momentum moving back so knees aren't a huge threat as you escape. Slide your right arm under his left and grab his right bicep. Your right elbow should be under his left elbow. You now have a fulcrum and a lever. Shoot your elbow straight up. The clinch is broken.


I'm with you; I don't like that variation of the cro-bar escape very much. In fact, over the years I have removed it and added back into my clinch curriculum several times.

Currently I teach eight basic escapes for the neck tie-up:

1. Swimming

2. Chin lift/press

3. Two varieties of the crowbar

a. Near arm

b. Far arm

4. The pinch

5. Elbow fold

6. Head tilt

7. Head press

8. Elbow lift

From these eight basic defenses I have students progress to more complicated variations and combinations of the above.



Could you describe each of those in more detail? Some of them are self explanatory, but others aren't...


Khun Kao

Ok Kao I'm game, but it's gonna take a bunch of posts.

Before beginning any of the basic defenses below it is best to partially control the opponent's body in some way. I always emphasize the importance of keeping at least one hand on your opponent at all times (which is one of the reasons I don't prefer the far arm crowbar). When you have at least one hand on your opponent you maximize your ability to push or pull him off balance when he attempts to knee or elbow you; and you reduce the chance that he can quickly disengage and punch/kick you while your still thinking about his arms. How you attach yourself to your opponent depends on what control tie-up he's using and where your positioned. For the neck tie-up typically you'll do one of the following:

1.Hug over the top of his shoulders and grab behind his neck.

2.One hand over the shoulders the other controlling his hip(s).

3.One hand across his neck monitoring his shoulder (ex: right hand on right shoulder).

4.Hugging the body

5.Variations and fluid combinations of the above.

continued below.....

continued from above...

Now for the basic counters. The first three are for when there is some space and the last five are more for when it's tight.

1.Swimming: this is just the basic arm weaving motion that everyone teaches. I break it down as follows:

A.Clear your elbow.

A common mistake is to simply slip your hand inside and reach for the neck. This becomes difficult because your forearm is trying to force his elbow out the way. Of course he feels that and braces his elbow against the center of your chest making it next to impossible to complete the basic swim (unless your trickyJ). To avoid that, move your hand and elbow inside before you reach for the neck.

B.Confirm your grip on the back of his head with a short abrupt tug and....

C.Push your shoulder into the center.
Think of trying smash his nose with your shoulder. If you do it right it will feel like your shoulder just pops out from under his forearm. If you don't do this, the fact that you got your hand onto the back of his neck doesn't mean a whole lot because he's still controlling both of your shoulder with his forearms.

D.Repeat above with opposite arm.

2.Chin lift/press: Reach diagonally over and across your opponent's arms and cup the top of his shoulder. Lever his chin upward with your forearm and push him away to create space. Next, swim the other arm in and grab the back of his neck. Finally, swim inside with the arm that was levering his chin. The press is exactly the same movement but his chin is down making it hard to slide your forearm under it. When this occurs push your hand/forearm across his face/chin turning his head to the side and cup over top his shoulder. Finish as before.

3. Two variations on the crowbar:

A.Near arm: I usually move to this when my opponent moves his elbow inward to block the basic swim but you could also just go directly into it. Reach inside with your right hand and as he blocks by turning the elbow inward, reach across his body and cup over top of his right bicep. As you do this it is important to shrug your shoulders up so you partially trap his left arm between your neck and right shoulder. Now lever his left arm upward by lifting your right elbow up and rotate your right shoulder forward. If you do it right your opponent will feel a slight shoulder wrench on the left side. Finalize by swimming the left hand in and then the right.

B.The far arm: Brett already described this one. The only thing I would add is to shrug your shoulders up to control the arm more.

I'll post the rest later...

The next five escapes work well when your opponent has pulled you tight with the neck tie-up.

4.The pinch:

In this escape your opponent has pulled your head down against his chest. Assuming his head is on your left side, grab the back of his head with your left hand and shrug your right shoulder to control his hand. With your right hand (palm up) push inward and up on his left tricep/elbow while driving his head down. The movement feels like your trying to pinch his head and elbow together and is very uncomfortable for your opponent. If you get this position he cannot effectively knee you while you can knee freely or transfer to another control tie-up position.

5. Elbow Fold:

From a tight neck tie-up reach under both arms with your right hand and cup the outside of his right arm near the bend of his elbow. Pull his elbow inward and rotate your left shoulder forward pressing your chest against his arm. At the same time wrap your left arm around his shoulders (like your trying to headlock him). At this point his right arm is pretty much useless as it bent at an awkward angle and smashed up against his chest. Knee or transition to another control position.

More to come....


Is anyone still interested in this stuff? Looks like the thread just kinda died.


Please keep them coming, I am definately interested! I just have not had much time to reply myself. Plus, the OG/UG keeps losing connectivity or something...

Khun Kao


Hey, for the clinch escapes that I teach, check out the archive. Find the article titled "Exiting Clinch". I have all the major clinch breaks and escapes listed there. Let me know if you want any more info about it...

Khun Kao


ttt, I'm still interested, I just don't have anything to add, I don't end up on the bad end of a clinch with the guys I train with, I think it's becuase I'm taller than all of them so they don't like to reach that high to clinch, if I'm on the bad end of one, I usually do the crowbar or tie up till a break when I'm doing standup striking only, or shoot if I'm on the bad end of a clinch for NHB.

continued from above....

The next three all begin with the same motion and footwork.

6.Head tilt:

In this escape your opponent has pulled your head down against his chest. For this description, assume his head is on the right side of yours. Place your left foot between his legs and move hips as close as possible to his. With your right hand reach over top of his head (your right hand and fingers should be draped over his head with the your fingers extending downward toward his right ear). Swing your right leg around behind you and pull down hard on your opponent's head with your right hand to pivot his body to your right. The motion of your pull should be a wide arc from the position of his head toward your right hip. The sideward pull of his head combined with the pivot generally causes his right elbow to flare outward just enough that you can swim your left arm inside.

7. Elbow lift:

This is the same as the last one but as you pivot the opponent around you place the heel of your left hand under his right elbow and lever it out and up. Knee or transition to another control position. Commonly this movement is used to transition into the head and arm tie-up.

8. Head press:

Similar to the previous two only as you pivot you feel that he's not as stable as he should be. Continue the arc of his head and push it down between his arms with both hands as you step backward (pulling him toward you). When you finish his head should lower than yours. Even though he still has his hands in the neck tie-up position because his head is being pressed down he doesn't have any leverage to control you. Upward knee to the face is the most common follow up.

After students have a good grasp of the basic movements I start to teach variations and combinations of the eight basic techniques. Some of the variations seem different than the basic escapes but they are based on the concepts/principles that are learned through the basics. Remember that nothing works well by itself. If your playing around with these movements in sparring think about attacking with them in combinations while adding various knee attacks, your basic movement skills (pushing, pulling, turning), and takedowns. If you can do that you will find all of these techniques open to you and your clinch skills will soar.

Also, keep in mind that the neck tie-up is not the end all and be all of the Thai clinch. There are many other control tie-up positions available and other areas of interest as well - such as takedowns.

Happy training!!


Im Interested. Its always good to hear other peoples thoughts on escaping the clinch.


This is a great thread, it should be archived.