Combatting a Muay Thai southpaw fighter is both tricky and very dangerous. There aren’t as many southpaw fighters as orthodox fighters in Muay Thai, and because they’re scarce, it’s hard to practice fighting them.
An opponent with the opposite stance will stand awkwardly in front of you, and you will have to find a way to time his rhythm. While you have difficulty dealing with that unique stance, a southpaw opponent, on the other hand, has trained his entire career mostly facing orthodox fighters, which puts you at a great disadvantage. That’s what makes fighting southpaws difficult.
If you’re looking to improve your game, especially against southpaws, read on to find out three ways and useful drills to combat southpaws in Muay Thai.
1) Moving back and countering against a southpaw
The most basic way to counter is while moving backward. Against a southpaw fighter, it’s crucial that you know how to attack off the back foot.
Put a lot of pressure on the back leg, keeping the front leg very light off the ground. This is so that the lead leg is ready to pick up the leg to check a kick or to use the cross block. Also, keeping the lead foot light means you can teep an opponent’s front leg effectively as well, to push him off balance and stop his effectiveness.
In the heat of battle, you have to make reads on your opponent, especially if he’s a southpaw. Sometimes you need to block, sometimes you need to teep the leg, and sometimes you need to evade.
· One option is for you to lean back and sweep the leg. Sweeping an opponent off balance is a very high-scoring Muay Thai technique; it looks very good to the judges, and it’s crowd-friendly as well.
· When you’re moving backward, be heavy on the back foot so you can maintain balance, especially when you’re checking a kick. That will give you a nice stand and a nice base. If it’s not strong and sturdy enough, you’re going to get kicked off balance.
· Use more of a clever Muay Thai style. You don’t have to always be coming forward, rushing and trying to come at your opponent. You can win fights on the back foot as well, and still be very effective. Sometimes, a Muay Thai fighter will take the back foot and counter his opponent, just to make him look less effective.
· The teep to the leg is also a great option. Just keep your front leg nice and light on the floor, and you can teep your opponent’s leg. Just time it as he’s about to kick. Don’t time it too late, or you’re getting hit.
· The final counter is the leaning back kick. Step back onto your back leg and lean back with your torso. If you don’t step and lean back at the same time, you’re going to get hit with a kick. Evade the opponent’s kick then come back with a high-scoring sweep.
2) Moving forward and countering against a southpaw with a sweep
The next method to combat a southpaw is countering while moving forward and pressuring your opponent. You’ll be kicking and attacking more than you would while on the back foot, and your opponent will be on the defensive. This means you have to be careful of counters.
Sometimes two Muay Thai fighters who stay in close range like to exchange kicks. You’re both waiting for each other’s counters all the time. Watch your opponent’s hips, because as soon as he blocks, he puts his leg back up and will reload with a counter.
From this position, the best way to score points is to execute a sweep.
· Pay attention to your opponent’s upper body to see where his shoulders are moving, and scan his upper body to his hips. From there, you’ll be able to see where and when a kick is coming.
· You see a lot of Muay Thai fighters, especially two good kickers go kick for kick, trying to up the points on the scorecards. This is where you can really change the game and get ahead on the scorecards really well.
· The sweep will change the pace of this exchange significantly, and you’ll establish a level of dominance.
· Step across your opponent, moving your lead leg outward so you are at a good angle to sweep with your rear kick and take out your opponent’s support leg.
· When you’re doing this sweep counter, the point of contact you want to be hitting is just above the ankle. You can wrap your foot around that support leg and then take his feet away from him.
3) Defending and countering against a knee fighter with a sweep
In the final scenario, you’ll be defending against a southpaw Muay Khao, otherwise referred to as a “knee fighter.”
Because he’s a southpaw, you’re going to get into this tapping exchange of the hands. That means your front hand and his front hand. And this will help to gauge the range as well, so as soon as you’re tapping his hands, you know he can attack you and you can attack him.
This is the perfect time to, again, go to the sweep.
· Wait for your opponent to step forward. As soon as he steps forward with the right leg, he’s going to throw the left knee.
· Control your opponent’s hands, as it gives you more control of when to sweep.
· Another way to achieve control is by using the long guard. With the long guard out, it keeps you covered.
· With the long guard in place, you can come into his leg with a low kick to the thigh. Do this enough times, and it will give your opponent a dead leg.
· Be careful of the knees, and you’re going to want to cross block it. Once you’ve cross blocked the knee, it’s time to sweep the support leg.
· The perfect time to sweep is when you’re on your tiptoes. In the video, Sam-A executes the technique perfectly.
· Again, the point of contact when sweeping is you want to go above the ankle just slightly, to take out the floor beneath your opponent and get him to the ground.
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