[PROPOSED] KICK-7: Vote to Modify Clinch Fighting Rule


There exists a gray area in the Karate Combat ruleset that consistently leads to many breaks in action. Currently the ruleset states that you are not allowed to grab or hold any part of your opponent’s body (including head) and strike. You can only pull your opponent’s head or other body part as long as you release before the strike lands. The intention of this rule was to keep fights at a longer range and high paced. But this rule has proven very difficult to execute. It leads to many breaks in the action.

As further explained in this clip from Ariel Helwani’s MMA Hour, we propose allowing fighters to complete their strikes effectively so that they may work their way to a finish with the minimum amount of breakage and maximum engagement.

Clinch Rule Change Proposal:

  1. No clinching, holding, or grabbing your opponent’s head, torso, limbs, or uniform for any reason other than to immediately execute a legal technique.
  2. Continuously striking after the initial technique is allowed so long as the fighter engaging the action is actively attacking with effective strikes.
  3. Inactive or continuous clinching will be split by the referee at their discretion. Repeated passive or continuous clinching will result in a point deduction at the referee’s discretion.

Arguments & Misconceptions

  1. This will make KC too grapple heavy: This is a misconception, the clinch is an area of striking. In Muay Thai for example grappling is not allowed in its rule set but yet striking in the clinch is allowed. If we aspire for Karatekas to be the most complete strikers on the planet, we must allow for the art to evolve in this range of attack.

  2. Clinch Fighting is not Karate: Allowing for strikes in the clinch doesn’t make the sport no longer Karate. There are many cases found in the Bunkai (practical application) of Kata (forms) for clinched strikes. Kata has preserved Karate’s lost art of clinch fighting as well as many grappling techniques. But very few Karatekas can actually execute it in practice. This rule change will help bring Traditional Okinawan Karate back to the modern age.


Should Karate Combat allow for more extensive clinch fighting? Vote YES or NO below.

  • YES
  • NO
0 voters

I really like the trend we are taking to simplify the KC ruleset. The old clinch and ground and pound rules were confusing for the casual fan, and for the refs. Think about how many times you can hear Bas say “well the ref technically wasn’t supposed to break that one up” on a broadcast.

Looking forward to more of these as the league continues to grow.


Karate needs to re-emphasise close quarters inside fighting.

Both being able to get into and use the clinch for throwns, takedowns and close strikes, and to nullify with takedown defense, counter striker, throw reversals and safe and effective disengage from the clinch. It needs to be a place where both in and out fighters can thrive (rafael aghayev’s takedown heavy style is a great example).

But I understand people apprehension of making karate to grapple heavy, even the roots of okinawan karate come from local folk wrestling traditions. Which is why we need a rule set that rewards clinch fighting but also a skilled fighter should be able to nullify it.

I would propose:

To allow body hooks and elbow/forearm strikes in the clinch as well as knees to the body only.

Takedowns can be performed from leg catches, clinches, taking the back with no time limit to clinching as long as the engager is being active in trying perform a technique.

If both fighter attempting clinches and and ore only striking in the clinch referee breaks them up after 10/15 seconds unless a takedown is attempted.

If no action is taking place in the clinch the referee breaks them up immediately


Absolutely logical progression for Karate Combat.

Numerous styles, in using karate styles, having clinch techniques. It’s a common place to be in when in combat. Clinching is a natural and intelligent way to defend yourself, as well as a form of control to attack from. Almost every takedown will transition through some type of clinch.

Forcing a person to release a clinch before they an attack is counterproductive.

Allowing more clinching is a no brainier for me.

I hope to see more judo throws, sweeps and high crotch lifts like judo in the 90s/00s! With more clinch work, this will be inevitable.

Also, I’d like to note that the “no strike in the clinch” rule favors the fighter trying to stall.


100% i think clinches shpuld be allowed. It would allow for some pretty devastating knees, im sure we will see some good KOs. We should also allow kicks and knees to an opponent on the floor :muscle:

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So glad about this proposal! Most professional fighters are trained to hold and pull into a clinch whilst throwing a knee and its hard for them to suddenly override years of muscle memory leading to many many unnecessary stoppages in action! I believe this proposal is akin to K1 rules and makes lots of sense to allow effective knee strikes whilst maintaining the flow of the fight

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Yes I’m OK with that rule

Nice game and very good decision,but now a days karate is not give points :pensive:, please give points like before

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I agree that the current rule is very difficult to enforce from the ref’s perspective and very difficult for the fighters to navigate without getting broken up or commiting an illegal action. The proposal makes total sense.

It is also in no way contradictory to a standard karate curriculum, as most traditional forms include a wide variety of clinching situations and clinch fighting is an important element of many styles of okinawan karate (such as Goju Ryu) as well as mainland styles like Wado Ryu.

Go… Goo… Lgf!
Im verry excited to this KC