Nov 5, 2007

What's with the MMA fighting stance?

I get asked that on a regular basis.

I'm watching a UFC event with someone- "Why do they square up and base out so much?"
It's usually that little gem combined with one of these:

"Yeah, why do that? The Muay Thai stance lets you kick harder and faster."

"Yeah, why do that? The JKD Bai Jong stance lets you move faster and counter with ease."

"Yeah, why do that? The Wrestling stance lets you take people down whenever you want."

Exactly- that's why they don't do that.
Let me start with the most controversial one- The Bai Jong, of Jeet Kune Do/Bruce Lee fame.
It was once my favorite stance to go into, as I could do simple trapping and leg checks with ease, taking advantage of my speed (I do thank my obsession with the lead straight and trapping in my early days in MA in making my hand speed pretty damn fast. Then I discovered clinching and takedowns, and the supposed "neutral" stance kind of became 'useless' for me. "Useless" is in quotes because I still use the strong-side forward.) Very economical in movement, and uses fencing footwork incorporated into boxing and WC offensive and defensive movements. (I know, there's a ton more. I'm f'ing generalizing here.)

If you've read up to this point, and are wondering "yeah, but why is it not used?" let me describe each stance before I do that- it all boils down to the same thing in the end. (Also notice that I'm not including any of the more traditional stances. It should be kind of obvious why I'm not even bothering with something like a Karate Horse stance or a WC triangle stance.)

Next would be the Wrestling stance- palms out, legs bent, top hunched, squared up. It's an exceptional stance to take the legs out, or to get into a clinch. You should always be afraid of anyone using this stance, because there's a higher probability that the person knows what he's doing, and that you're going to get wrecked if you're not careful. Full intention of shooting in and getting close, the focus of the wrestling stance is to get into position to smother an opponent's movements.

Finally, last one I'll talk about is the Muay Thai stance- erect, squared up, majority of weight on the rear leg, legs together. If you get into a striking match with a well-trained MT practitioner, and you have no experience with leg checking, thai blocking, and clinching... I hope you have insurance. Seriously. Medical bills get kind of expensive. The focus is on using boxing strikes for setting up kicks as well as knees and elbows. (Once again, generalizing. Don't send hate mail.)

So, I basically listed the great parts about these three stances. So why exactly are these three generally ditched for the brawler's stance? Well, I said that it all boils down to the same thing. The overwhelming reason why? Because each one of those stances has an obvious intention behind it. (Strong aspect of a stance? Remember that?) Yes, even the "neutral" JKd stance, you Bruce Lee nuthuggers. Heck, all three stances are ones you could win fights in, but at a Professional level, having a specific stance tells your opponent what you're most likely to do, and that's just dangerous.

Wrestling stance? Sprawl n' Brawl.

Muay Thai stance? Wrestling stance.

Bai Jong? Takedown.

Granted, people who are really good at using their particular stances shouldn't change it, but there is an implied risk, and that's something they need to take into account. But what's so good about the usual MMA stance described above? Even if you don't agree with what I'm saying, just keep reading.

-in Punching, lets you use your legs effectively to load up quickly for power shots, (Or, as Quentin "Rampage" Jackson says "put your ass innit.") and your striking defense around your head becomes focused. Opponents are going for KO strikes, not wearing-out body shots.

-in Kicking, lets you quickly transition into a MT stance for striking defense, or lets you easily go in for a sweep w/o switching.

-for Wrestling, lets you stuff the shot much more effectively than a feet-together stance like the MT stance or Chinese short-fist style stances, by either basing out more, or by sprawling. It also, by being low and squared up slightly, allows fairly easily for shoots and clinching.

There are plenty more reasons, but I just thought I'd keep things short and let you figure it out yourselves.

Hope you enjoyed the read



Anonymous said...

Great Post, I give the same explanation when I teach my striking class for MMA.

Anonymous said...

Thank you very much! I have been trying to explain to our (video game) animator, what's "wrong" with our character (who is a brawler) when he stands in a karate stance. Your post is perfect. ;-)