As a boxer or Muay Thai fighter, perhaps one of the biggest advantages you could ever have over your opponent is being able to switch stances from orthodox to southpaw or vice versa. In fact, in traditional martial arts, students are expected to be able to execute techniques on both sides.
From the moment you start sparring, or even just learning techniques, you will realize that you prefer a certain side. Whether it’s because you want your dominant hand to carry your power punch or your rear foot to throw your power kick, or simply because you’re more comfortable using your strong hand to jab, the more you train, you’ll eventually see what works best for you and what doesn’t.
Certain fighters such as the legendary Samart Payakaroon, Marvin Hagler, Nong-O Gaiyanghadao, Terence Crawford, Gennady Golovkin, Dominick Cruz, Anthony Pettis, Saenchai PKSaenchaimuaythaigym, and Muangfalek Kiatvichian are known for their ability to switch stances depending on their opponents. They are able to match their opponents’ stances, nullifying their attacks and launching their own. There’s no doubt that their ability to switch stances have helped to establish them as some of the greatest fighters in their martial art.
The Benefits Of Switching Stances
It gives you the option of having your power hand as your lead hand
Any boxer knows that the most important punch is the jab. Although they lack the finishing power of a cross or a hook, the jab plays an important role in creating openings for that power punch. Having your power hand as your lead hand to land that jab ensures that your opponent is disabled long enough for you to execute your next move. If you were to remain in the orthodox stance with your left hand as your lead hand, your jab wouldn’t be as powerful.
Multiple-time boxing World Champion Miguel Cotto is known for this. In his title defense for the WBO Welterweight World title against Joshua Clottey, Cotto was able to knock down Clottey with just a jab alone. A left-hander fighting in the orthodox stance, Cotto became known for his strong jab and hook.
It keeps your opponent guessing
Your opponent will never know what to expect if you are able to switch stances. Having the ability to switch back and forth gives you more opportunities to attack, revealing openings and angles that never would have been available to you as a southpaw/orthodox fighter. Switching stances would also disrupt your opponent’s rhythm, especially if he’s trying to set you up – he won’t know where to go next!
Muay Thai legend Samart Payakaroon was known for this. Perhaps one of the most technical fighters ever to grace the ring, Samart was ambidextrous, allowing him to constantly switch stances in his fights.
It makes you a threat to anyone
As someone with the ability to switch stances, you become a threat to both southpaws and orthodox fighters. In Muay Thai, southpaw fighters, who are used to fighting orthodox fighters, usually design their game plan around fighting them. Certain fighters become so adept at switching stances that they can completely switch according to their opponent’s style. However, this also gives them the capability of switching back to their preferred style when it suits them.
UFC fighter Dominick Cruz is known for his ability to switch stances directly in front of his opponent. Although this is a risky move as it leaves him vulnerable to taking shots while switching, this also makes it difficult for his opponents to set up their attacks.
It helps you stay in position all the time
Being able to switch stances gives you the ability to strike from any footing, regardless of whether you are advancing, retreating, or pivoting. This gives you the opportunity to attack at any time. However, in boxing, switching stances will force you to cross your feet at a certain point, which may put you off balance and make you susceptible to your opponent’s attack. Thus, if you decide to switch stances, you must do it quickly, and mask it with punches. You should also remember to keep your guard up at all times and remain vigilant.
Perhaps one of the most talented boxers today, Gennady Golovkin has received recognition for becoming a fast, hard hitter. However, his strategy of switching stances or shifting, not only allows him to move out of harm’s way but also gives him the opportunity to land a flurry of punches. Golovkin pivots on his lead foot to put himself in the opposite stance, striking with his shifting side’s hand.
How To Switch Stances
Spar with people with different stances
The key to mastering a stance is by constantly sparring using the stance you’d like to work on. Through sparring, you’ll find a way to utilize feints and techniques that will convince your opponent to react and let you land your strikes.
Use the heavy bag to fire moves using both stances
The heavy bag is a great tool for mastering techniques of another stance. Through repetitions, you can work on getting those opposite movements to become second nature and eventually add them to your arsenal of weapons. At the same time, switching back to your preferred stance will help you add power to the techniques that you already know and hone them to perfection.
Padwork with someone of a different stance
Holding pads for someone who fights in a different stance allows you to observe his/her movements and the angles in which he/she launches his attacks. This will make you more aware of your own movements as you try them out for yourself.
Learning how to switch stances is not easy. It takes a lot of hard work and dedication to master to train in a new stance. You will have to learn how to move, defend, and transfer weight in two different ways. Many fighters often get frustrated and end up switching back to their stance of choice. Thus, it is recommended that only experienced students should train switching stances. Also, a beginner student wouldn’t have enough sparring or training experience to identify his/her dominant side yet. Beginners should master their preferred side first. When you are ready to subject your weaker side to your opponent’s best stance, then you are ready to switch stances.