My Muay Thai Training Diary: Switching Stances

Welcome back to my online diary documenting my very amateur experience training in Muay Thai. If you missed the previous entries on Bloody Elbow, read them here.

I've mentioned in this diary before that one area in need of improvement for me is balance. When throwing a series of kicks, I tend to lose my center and get my feet out of position. I've never thought of myself as a particularly athletic guy, and this is where that sort of shortcoming comes in. So, it should come as no surprise that throwing kicks from southpaw stance is not an easy task for me. But it's something I am focusing on, and worked hard at this week.

Watching fights, I have a lot of appreciation for fighters who are able to switch stances easily. Some are stiff on the switch, and some switch too much, but those that really flow nicely between orthodox and southpaw can be very effective. Carlos Condit and Dominick Cruz are both good examples of this in MMA. But making that smooth transition is hard, as I am learning.

When in southpaw, my body just doesn't respond quite right. Putting together combos feels off, the hands don't naturally go where they are supposed to, and finding both my balance and rhythm on kicks can be difficult. But I think it's a needed skill. Variety of attack is key, and right now, that's not something I have. When I spar at the moment, I have the feeling that I must be set in my perfect position before I can throw. However, that leads to me freezing up. And I know I'm not always going to be able to throw from the perfect position. What I need is to be more comfortable and ready to attack or defend from different positions, and for now, that starts with southpaw stance.

So how to do it? The obvious answer - practice, practice, practice. When working the bag, I'm trying things in both stances, working to get those opposite movements into my body. One other thing that really worked for me this week - for pad work my partner is himself a southpaw. So when holding pads for him, I kept myself in southpaw stance. And I have to say, it worked quite well. On a practical level, it kept my feet clear of his as he came in. But it also helped me get more comfortable with my body in that position, while at the same time helping me to more clearly see how he fought from that stance.

Now it's possible that this is not something to focus on at the moment - that I'm getting ahead of myself. But as I work on my balance and my ability to string combos together, it's helping me loosen up and feel more set in my stance - no matter how I am positioned. And that is clearly a good thing.

Question for the week: In your opinion, how important is the ability to switch stances and attack/defend comfortably from both sides?

I train Muay Thai under Andre Madiz at Conviction Martial Arts, 4430 N. Western Ave., Chicago, IL. www.convictionfitness.com. If you are in the Chicago area, come join us, and be sure to say hello.

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