Switch hitting is an advanced concept that can revolutionize your MMA game. Beginners are often discouraged from exploring switch hitting primarily due to the added complexity and increased training time required. However, even a basic understanding of switch hitting can help set up knockout blows and increase your defensive ability.
Switching Stance At Long Range
Switching stance at long range is a strategy that can aid you in setting up different angles and deterring certain attacks from your opponent. This first drill will help you circle your opponent in either direction and give you the ability to feint direction changes, useful for baiting your opponent into counters or creating space. Put down a pad or any object that you can use as a reference point for your opponent. You will then be circling around it and switching directions every few repetitions. The actual footwork pattern is two side steps, followed by a small pivot. Start by going towards your lead side and repeat this footwork pattern three times. After the third pivot, you switch your stance in a sudden, explosive motion, then take three steps toward your rear side. You then side step twice and pivot towards your lead side. After two repetitions, you switch stance again, but towards your lead side.
Once you have become comfortable with the basic drill, you can switch stances and directions independently. Watch the video excerpt of Coach Barry Robinson demonstrating this in his own shadowboxing. This type of switching can help prevent your opponent from setting up takedowns off your lead leg, as well as making it difficult for them to land low kicks.
Switching While Moving
Switching stances while moving is a highly effective way to create space between you and your opponent. This technique of switching stance while moving is present in many traditional martial arts and is equally effective in MMA. A specific example of its use is to counter a single leg takedown attempt by your opponent. While stepping backwards with your lead leg, throw an uppercut from your original rear side. This will remove the target of your former lead leg while simultaneously landing an uppercut to your opponent’s chin.
The Fitzsimmons Shift is a technique that combines shifting steps forward while punching. Watch the above video demonstration and explanation on the Fitzsimmons Shift. Popularized by legendary boxer Bob Fitzsimmons, who is on record as the lightest man to win the heavyweight championship in boxing, this technique can be used to close the distance and land devastating punches to the body or head. The technique itself starts by throwing your rear cross at your opponent. As you throw your cross, let the punch and the weight of your body pull you forward into the opposite stance. You should be in range to land a tight uppercut to the body or head after the initial shift. Although this can be used from either stance, it works particularly well for orthodox fighters, as the shift puts them in position to land a hard left hand to an opponent’s liver. Variations on this technique are still in use today by boxers such as Gennady “GGG” Golovkin and Terrance “Bud” Crawford.
The Karate blitz resembles contralateral punches with steps from the Cuban style of boxing. This technique works best with a wider stance and your knees slightly bent. To start, throw your rear straight. You will follow this by throwing a lead straight punch while stepping through with your rear leg. This will put you momentarily in the opposite stance. Throw what is now your lead hand as a straight punch as you step through with your new rear leg. You should now be back to your original stance. Finish the blitz by stepping through with your rear leg once again, but at forty five degree angle instead of straight in front of you. This will place your body in a dominant angle against your opponent. The Karate blitz can cover a large distance very quickly, and is useful for catching opponents off guard. Common ways to counter this technique are shooting for a takedown or covering and then countering with a big punch once the blitz is over. To avoid the takedown, keep your center of gravity low as you blitz. Proper boxing form for punches and keeping your chin tucked behind your shoulders will help avoid a counter punch from your opponent. Watch the above video by Stephen “Wonderboy” Thompson as he explains the use of this technique in an effective manner.
The Superman jab is a technique popularized by the legendary George “Rush” St. Pierre, watch the video demonstration by Ajarn Phil Nurse, GSP’s Muay Thai coach and his explanation on the technique. The mechanics and execution are very similar to the Karate blitz mentioned earlier. To perform a Superman jab, kick your lead leg back and land on your rear leg, as you throw your lead straight punch. Like the Karate blitz, this puts you momentarily in the opposite stance. The beauty of this technique lies in the myriad of options that you have as a follow up. You can go straight into a Karate blitz off of a Superman jab, or you can follow it with a hard leg kick. You can even combine all three techniques: start with the Superman jab, into a Karate blitz, then end with a leg kick. The contralateral movement of the Superman jab will also leave your opponents confused as most fighters tend to use ipsilateral techniques. You can use this to your advantage and set up less common attacks like spinning elbows with a high degree of success. An example of a spinning elbow setup using the Superman jab would look like this: start with a superman jab, into a blitz, fake the rear leg kick and follow through with a lead arm spinning elbow.
This guide only covers the surface of switch hitting for MMA. There are countless ways to incorporate switching stances into your own MMA game. Try the above techniques out and modify them to suit your own personal needs.
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