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Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Getting Sinister

A month or two ago, Kru Mark gave me an interesting assignment. He had me start boxing from a southpaw stance (i.e., with my left foot forward), instead of a regular one. Two weeks ago, he made me start working my Muay Thai out of a southpaw lead as well. It has been an interesting experiment, thus far.

From a biomechanical perspective, I’ve been forced to reexamine, in great detail, the basic movements of Muay Thai. While many of them are ingrained in my normal (orthodox) fighting posture, when I go southpaw, my body and mind sometimes get confused. I have to slow myself down and make sure I’m doing things correctly. That confusing seems to be passing faster than I would have expected, but it is still there.

From a strategic perspective, what I’ve noticed (and Kru Mark has commented on this as well) is that when I go to a southpaw stance, I become much more aggressive. For the last several years, I’ve developed a counter-punching style, based more off of trying to control distance and exploit my opponent’s mistakes. But when I go southpaw, I find that I want to move forward more aggressively, and play more of a “Muay Ba” or “Power” style than the “Muay Chalat” (tricky) style I’m used to playing. I’m not entirely sure why this is true, though I’m starting to work out a theory about it.

In my normal, orthodox stance, my power side is back, and my weak side is forward. That means that most of my power tools are set back (with the exception of things like the left hook), while my lead tools are primarily used for setups, counters, and other tricks that aren’t power based.

But when I go southpaw, now my weak side has more space and distance to generate force, so those tools feel stronger. At the same time, my strong side has become my lead, so it feels more powerful than I’m used too. As a result, I feel like all of my tools are set up to generate a lot of force, which means I’m more inclined to drive forward. I also find that my southpaw stance tends to be more forward-weighted (a fact which may get me into trouble), which reinforces that psychological imperative to go forward.

I will be interested to see how this affects the development of my overall game. At some point, I suspect I will be able to comfortable transition between both stances with ease, but for now, it takes some getting used to.

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