Boxing Tip #11: Clinching
Why do boxers clinch?The biggest reason boxers clinch is because they are tired. Clinching is a defensive technique, but one that really shouldn't be used if possible. Most boxers use it at a time when they can't afford to, and that is when they are already tired. Tying yourself up in a clinch will expend a lot more effort and energy than it would to simply punch and move. However, it does give you the chance to break your opponent's momentum and stop him from hitting you for a few seconds.
What is the goal of the clinch in boxing?
The goal of clinching in boxing is to tie up your opponent. Basically you want to capture both of his arms under yours - much like giving him a big bear hug that effectively prevents him from lifting his arms and punching. Don't think you are going to be able to do this for long. In boxing, you can't tie up your opponent and the referee will break you apart, but it can be enough of a break if you are getting pummelled and need to stop the onslaught.
How to ClinchLike I mentioned above, to clinch you need to capture both of your opponent's arms under yours. In addition, you will want to put your head on his shoulder, hold him in tight and put as much weight as you can on him. This serves two purposes - first, it gives you a bit of rest and second, it makes him work harder. To get into a clinch, move towards your opponent with your guard high and elbows close together. Shoot your arms forward hooking both arms of your opponent just above the elbows and immediately pull him in close -- rub sweat. (this reason alone is a good one to do this sparingly :) Then lean on him and do not let him open the distance. Keep his lead leg between your legs and then use his movement to balance yourself. Conciously rest and control your energy output and breathing.
How to keep the referee from breaking your clinch.Clinching in a boxing match is never allowed for long, but you can prolong it by looking busy in the clinch. If one of the boxers has an arm free and is fighting, the referee may not break it up. This takes a tremendous amount of energy and nullifies the short rest break you are attempting to achieve in the clinch, but if you are facing an opponent that likes to tie you up, then feed it to him. Get one arm free and slam it into his liver and side as he clinches you. Occasionally push back a bit and get a hook into the head. If you want to get illegal about it, the clinch gives you a clear shot of your opponent's kidneys and a rabbit punch or two is always available as well. I don't suggest you resort to illegal tactics, but a warning shot can signal a clinchy opponent to back off.
How to safely exit a clinch.Getting out of a clinch can be dangerous because your arms are tied up and your guard is lowered. The first one to free his arms in the clinch can easily land a punch on exit which can lead to a full fledged combination and suddenly one fighter has the initiative. There are two methods of getting out of a boxing clinch: spin out or shove out.
- Spinning Out: Decide which side you are going to spin out on. Usually it is done on the lead hand. So, if you are orthodox, you want to use your left hand/palm and grip your opponent's arm just above the elbow. Control it and push it across your chest and down at about 45 degrees as you step left and around your opponent. This effectively spins him away and you around. If the referree didn't break you up, then this is an excellent time to throw a left hook or straight right. I like to practice the push and followed immediately by a left hook.
- Shove Out: In the clinch, quickly bring your hands in and give your opponent a strong decisive shove in the middle of his chest while simultaneously stepping back. You may find it better to even use the shove as a starting point for a quick hop backwards, but at any rate, ensure you shove is sufficient enough to throw your opponent off balance for a moment. You are trying to ensure he is not in position to throw a jab or other punch as you break the clinch. A safer method of doing this is to leave your lead hand tying up your opponent's lead arm and using your rear hand to initiate the shove. You can then guide your opponent's lead as you shove off ensuring a successful and safe exit from the clinch.