Being a southpaw in Muay Thai can give you an edge over orthodox fighters. This southpaw advantage is powerful, but can only be utilized if the fighter has trained and prepared. The southpaw advantage is a multifaceted and nuanced element that can take years to fully develop. Today, Evolve University will share a beginner’s guide to being a southpaw in Muay Thai.
To understand the southpaw advantage, you must also understand how to fight out of an open stance and a closed stance. A closed stance is where both you and your opponent have the same stance, meaning that both fighters have the same leg and arm forward. In contrast, an open stance is where both fighters have the opposite stance, with the opposite side forward. This creates a mirror situation and has completely different angles than a closed stance.
Closed stance matchups are far more common, simply because the majority of fighters are right-handed. This being the case, most fighters and coaches train for situations that would occur during a fight in a closed stance. These techniques and maneuvers do not always work when facing an opponent in an open stance.
For example, slipping to the right to avoid a jab is a common technique taught by many gyms. This makes sense in a closed stance context because you are moving your head to the outside of the power side. However, the exact opposite is true when doing the same slip in an open stance. An orthodox fighter that slips to their right to avoid a southpaw jab moves their head in line with the southpaw fighter’s rear/power hand. This is one of many adjustments that need to be made in order to have success in an open stance.
This unfamiliarity with open stance situations is a primary component of the southpaw advantage. Southpaw fighters go up against orthodox fighters the majority of the time, due to the majority of fighters being orthodox. This leads to many southpaw fighters becoming intimately familiar with open stance engagements.
As a southpaw, you will spend most of your time fighting your opponent in an open stance. This makes it harder for both you and your opponent to land your rear side strikes, but increases the knockout power, due to the increased travel distance of your rear side attacks. The most basic way to line your power side up is to step your right foot to the outside of your opponent’s lead (left) foot. This is called the outside angle and is a staple for any southpaw. It is the easiest and most basic way to land your left cross or left kick.
Many orthodox fighters will also be vying for the outside angle, creating a battle between both fighters’ lead sides. If you are unable to achieve the outside foot position, try going to the inside angle. The inside angle is when your lead foot is inside of their lead foot and between both of their legs. This angle lines you up for a jab, lead hook, or lead uppercut.
Basically, the outside angle lines up the left side for power strikes, while the inside angle aligns your right/lead side with your opponent’s centerline. To better understand the mechanics and give you a visual aid, we will break down unique southpaw techniques used by Muay Thai legends such as Saenchai and Samart Payakaroon.
Samart Payakaroon has arguably the best teep in the history of Muay Thai. His side teep is a valuable tool for any southpaw to add to their arsenal. In an open stance, it can be difficult to land the lead teep. This is because the angle created by an open stance makes it very easy to parry a lead teep, especially compared to a teep in a closed stance. The side teep is thrown with your foot turned forty-five degrees towards your opponent’s centerline, making contact with the ball of your foot. To add power and increase stability, plant your left heel on the ground as you throw the side teep.
Use your side teep to set up other strikes, much like a boxer would use their jab. If you are aiming to land a left kick, step to the outside angle after landing your side teep. This will put you in a dominant position to land a left kick to the head, body, or legs of your opponent.
Left Power Kick
As a southpaw, your left kick is one of your most devastating weapons. You can of course go up top and aim for a head kick, but there are many other options as well. The open stance makes it more difficult to land leg kicks. However, a seasoned veteran can target spots that would not be as available in an open stance.
One spot is the inside of your opponent’s lead leg. This is home to the inguinal nerve and is also a spot that is not trained to take as much punishment, compared to the outside of the leg. Because of this, you don’t have to blast this spot with that much power in order to have a great effect. Quick snapping leg kicks to the inside of the thigh will render your opponent immobile, slowly, but surely.
If the body is your target, there is no better spot to aim than the liver. A clean liver blow will send a signal up the vagus nerve and temporarily shut down a fighter’s legs. This can give you the opening to land your knockout blow, or even end a fight entirely.
A powerful left kick can even keep aggressive opponents with heavy hands at bay. Samkor Kiatmontep was a prime example of this in his fight with Satoshi Kobayashi. Samkor’s constant left kicks disrupted Kobayashi’s rhythm and prevented him from being able to plant his feet for power.
Although basic in nature, the side teep and left kick should be a staple of any southpaw Nak Muay. As you train, you will develop your own style, but these techniques will always be of use. Drill these, try them with a partner, and let us know how it works for you!
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