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Thomas V

Looking for advice on stance switching

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Short version

I am a natural southpaw and starting to work on striking in both southpaw and orthodox stances.
Work schedule does not line up with class schedules of local gyms, so working on this solo at home. Allready watched Karuhat, Samart & sifu mcInnes patreon sessions.
Looking for advice on switching between stances in a fight, specifically: solo drills, possible pitfalls and which fighters to watch.

Long version

I am a natural southpaw, and have been casually training (1 class / week for a year) + 1-3 Heavy bag sessions / week at home (1-2hours at low - medium intensity). Not in shape (when going for a run, after 2-3 km I'm done). For the past few months I haven't been able to go to classes due to a new work schedule, but I still do heavy bag sessions by myself.

In these heavy bag sessions, i'll do sets of about a 100 of single strikes & simple combos (e.g. 100 teeps, 100 1-2's, 100 knees, 100 midkicks, 100 elbows, ... ). I aim to do about 2000 strikes per session, with a couple hundred of each type of strike and about a 1000 teeps. For the last few weeks I've been dividing these sets evenly between Orthodox and southpaw stance. There's still a huge gap between the effectiveness of my strikes in southpaw and orthodox, but I'm definitely making progress.

Since I plan to continue working on striking out of both stances, it seems like a good idea to carve out some extra time to work on actually switching between both stances. Usually I'd turn to Youtube for guides at this point, but I've found surprisingly little information on switching stances effectively. Most video's on this subject fall in 1 of 2 categories:

  • The video explains "The stance switch". Which is basically the movement you'd make when throwing a switch-kick. (Which seems a little limited, if your goal is to develop a switching style)
  • Videos like Sylvie's Patreon content, specifically the Karuhat videos. In these, you can see the way Karuhat is moving, which in itself is very helpful.
    However, these videos lack specific drills or exercises you can work on if you don't have a switching master to correct you.

Rather than rambling on and turning this post into a long wall of text, at this point I'll simply list a number of questions, which could help me and hopefully others who want to work on stance switching:

1. What are some good fighters to watch for switching footwork?
Already looking into:

  • Karuhat

2. Are there any specific videos you would recommend (Patreon or otherwise)?
Already looking at:

  • On the forum: Tim's sessions with general Tunwakom (specifically the movement drill in day 1 vid 1)
  • On patreon: all Karuhat sessions
  • On patreon: session with Sifu McInnes
  • On patreon: session with Samart

3. Do you know of any specific drills I can work on?
I am Mostly looking for drills without a partner. However, drills with a partner will probably be useful for other readers, so please post those as well.

4. What are some pitfalls of stance switching, I should look out for?
The answer that's all over the internet, is: Your defense will suffer. However, people never seem to feel the need to go into details here. I would appreciate any answers with specifics.

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Jaroentong is also a switching fighter. I'm not sure what you mean by drills for practicing the switch, as it seems you're trying to learn how to switch in the moment, rather than fighting out of both stances. I haven't been taught "how to switch," but rather Karuhat literally reversed my stance and I had to learn how to fight in Southpaw. When literally going from right handed to left handed or vice versa, in general it's just like walking into the opposite stance. Namsaknoi has a really nice galloping switch on a punch, but he doesn't stay in the opposite stance. He just switches on that punch. But I reckon you could use it as your switch and just stay in that other stance. Karuhat does the same thing, but from the opposite stance, which is meaningful because he's going from his "unnatural" stance into his natural stance for a power cross, whereas Namsaknoi's is the inverse of that, so you're landing into the non-dominant position.

Sifu's "when to switch" drills and philosophies are the only time switching is talked about conceptually by a teacher in the Library. Otherwise it's my own take on what the switches feel like or mean. The dangers of switching are being off-guard for a moment as you're switching and landing into a position where your "open side" is vulnerable. But you just have to be aware of that and guard or set up the switch by off-balancing your opponent first. In general, don't switch stance in kicking range. Either closer or farther out. I'd choose closer. Karuhat often uses a simple step back (again, same as walking) when reversing his stance and then his attack just flows directly out of that. Almost nobody switches and does nothing. They switch on an attack or on a defensive step that becomes an attack.

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As for a drill (I'm only a beginner myself, so take that as you will), I tried letting the heavybag swing (with a teep for example) and then evade by taking a step back into southpaw (I'm orthodox), directly followed by a left kick. The idea was to keep a distance on an incoming opponent and counterattack. Seemed a good thing to practice since most of my sparring partners are much better punchers than I am.

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To me a super key to switching is getting the footwork down. Here's a public clip of Yodkhupon's galloping footwork. He's a southpaw fighter, but his gallop contains the element of being able to just switch in the cut off. It's part of his strike from any position. You can find his sessions in the Muay Thai Library, or watch detailed sessions with him in the Intensive Studies (I think 6 hours are up there).


Yodkhunpon told Sylvie to practice this footwork 20 minutes a day. I think that it is core to a flexibility in switching. Ideally you don't want to be "now I'm orthodox, now I'm southpaw", you want to be fluid, and access the advantages in each, when appropriate. You need a basic footwork, and Yodkhunpon's is pretty damn beautiful.

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21 hours ago, Sylvie von Duuglas-Ittu said:

Karuhat often uses a simple step back (again, same as walking) when reversing his stance and then his attack just flows directly out of that.

This is what I came to recommend. I am just starting stance switching as well, and just all the practice walking with General Tunwakom really helped. Figure out your movement first, then start striking once you are comfortable with that (that's what I feel like is working for me anyway).

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On 7/29/2019 at 9:05 AM, Sylvie von Duuglas-Ittu said:

Jaroentong is also a switching fighter.

I watched Jaroentong's session a few months back, and completely forgot about it. After watching the session again last night, I am definitely going to go over some of his and Karuhat's switches in slow motion to see how they time their switches with the opponent's movement.

As for the drills:

I started thinking about drills for switching stance when watching some of the footage of general Tunwakom training Tim and Tyler. It seems like the very first thing he works on, is switching stance while keeping protected at all times: simply walking up and down, while staying guarded and balanced. 

I'm going to try the Tunwakom walk, as well as working on stepping back and countering on the heavy bag, like Xestaro suggests. These seem like some solid options to get started.

As for Kevin's footwork suggestion, footwork is something I've probably been neglecting too much. At the moment my footwork is good enough that I don't fall over my own feet, but there's definitely a lot of room for improvement. Yodkhunpon's footwork really is something special. In my mind, when working on footwork you should focus on being light on your feet, and never being unbalanced. However I'm not certain if there's better things to aim for. What do you think the focus should be when working on footwork?

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