Stephen Strotmeyer PhD Seminar at Lanna MMA: 5 Takeaways From The Muay Thai Clinch
By Ryan McKinnon
One of the biggest elements in Muay Thai that separates it from kickboxing is the
use of the ʻmuay thai clinchʼ. Muay Thai Clinching must be developed just like any other weapon in your
arsenal. Some people see the clinch and think it looks easy to figure out. This couldnʼt
be further from the truth. It requires a certain measure of timing, precision and leverage
to sweep, or off balance your opponent. Stephen Strotmeyer of Pittsburgh Muay Thai
visited Lanna MMA last Saturday to share his knowledge of the Muay Thai clinch with us. Here are
a few takeaways from that seminar.
1. Balance: The major goal of the Muay Thai clinch is to off balance your opponent, thereby putting
them in a disadvantageous position where you can either sweep or strike your
opponent. Getting to that place is much harder than it sounds. If you yourself do not
have a strong base, much like a base in BJJ, you will be at the receiving end of a
throw. Finding your center of gravity, and learning to use it against your opponents
requires practice and patience.
2. Hand position: Thereʼs a saying in BJJ, “Position before submission.” The same rule
applies for hand positioning in the clinch. A lot of fighters struggle desperately to
move their opponents with brute strength. While strength is an asset, it is less
important that leverage. Correct hand positioning not only make you appear stronger,
it will make your life so much easier when you need to get your opponent off balance.
3. Variation in hand positioning: You hand position is dependent on what youʼre trying to
accomplish. Do you need to turn your opponent to the left or right? Are you
attempting a sweep? Making space for a knee? Landing an elbow? Turning your
opponent into the ropes? You must practice various hand positions in the Muay Thai clinch, not
just 50/50 control.
4. Timing: Timing is everything in life. In the Muay Thai clinch, you must be patient, and await your
moment to take advantage of your opponentʼs poor hand positioning and balance.
There are ways to get them to that place. Learning proper timing requires lots of
drilling. The more you drill, the more you will become aware of the perfect time to take
advantage of a small window of opportunity.
5. Ringcraft: Stephen brought us into the ring to show how different Muay Thai clinching is against
the ropes versus a wide open space. There are numerous tricks to employ when your
back is against the ropes, or when you have your opponent against the ropes. You
will find yourself in these circumstances often in a fight, so it is important to put
yourself in various situations in the clinch to know how to respond, so that you are not
a fish out of water when the time comes. Just like in BJJ, you should put yourself in
bad positions, not just the easy ones, to figure out how to escape, or turn the tide in
Some of these takeaways may seem vague. You might be reading this and
thinking, “I know how to clinch.” No you donʼt. Learning to clinch in Muay Thai requires daily
cultivation of skill. You must practice all of the hand positions, and partner up with
people of different sizes, experience levels, and strength in order to find out how good
your Muay Thai clinch really is. Stephenʼs seminar taught me a lot about my own awareness of
leverage, timing, stance, and hand positioning. I am excited to take the things I learned
and add them to my game immediately.
A big thank you to Stephen Strotmeyer for sharing his time and knowledge with
those who participated on Saturday. As is the case with any seminar, if you can take
away one thing from the time you spent with Stephen, then you learned something
valuable. Furthermore, you must practice that thing all the time in order to make it a true
weapon in your game. You want it to feel as natural as breathing. Have fun with your