The stance or ‘shell’ is the foundation of Muay Thai. If your feet are in the wrong place, you could be totally off balance and be left wide open and vulnerable to attacks.
The first thing you should learn when starting out in thai boxing is your stance.
It is instantly recognisable across the board when you have various martial artists together, as you can imagine a karate stance or a tae kwon do stance is totally different to the others. If you stand with your lead foot and have your back food with your toe against your heel and then take a step out and very slightly back then you should have the stance there.
When you have the stance down it is work then finding your rhythm. Bouncing your shoulders, hips and fists in a rhythmic motion is again strongly relating to the art and can easily be identified. There are various rhythms that people prefer to use at any given point during training/fighting. The two most commonly used is a faster paced ‘bounce’ and the slower paced ‘plod.’ Both of these have their advantages for different people. I have been training myself, as a bigger guy, to get used to the faster paced bounce to try and be a bit more agile and mobile.
This links in very well to footwork as your footwork will have to be on point to be able to do this. The advantages of being able to do both means that you can use the slower paced ‘plod’ to corner off the ring and use the space to hunt your opponent down. Whereas the faster paced ‘bounce’ can be used to evade and avoid potentially dangerous situations. Both have their places in certain situations so it is good to be clued up on how to use them. You will need to be able to maintain a solid base and be strong in it while you are moving which means that you can then concentrate on your attacks and defence.
Footwork is so important, you can see in the gym when you are shadow boxing, the more experienced students are concentrating where their feet are and what they are doing. Where each foot is being placed and each movement having a purpose. This is because maintaining a strong stance and base and having effective footwork is imperative to being stable on your feet. If you cross your legs over while moving, or have them too far apart or too close then you leave yourself vulnerable to potential attacks. Especially at a higher level where mistakes can cost you the fight, it is very important to have the basics down in terms of footwork and stance to ensure that that you are the strongest you can be.
Wrapping it up, you can practice your stance anywhere, at home waiting for the kettle to boil, in the staff room at work, in the elevator while you are going up/down a few floors. It is probably more comfortable to do it in the gym but something I will be covering in a later article will be being comfortable with being uncomfortable. So if you can practice pretty much anywhere then you will be going through the necessary motions in your head for when you do get into the gym and put it into practice you will be that much better.
When you start training, or walk into a gym for the first time, before wanting to dive in and begin throwing haymakers on your training partner, get the basics down first. Practice practice practice. It will pay dividends in the future.
How did you find working on your footwork?
Did it take you a while to find your own ‘style’ or ‘stance?’
Let us know what your thoughts are! Tune back in next week for ‘Basic Attacks: Punches and Kicks’
A fantastic tutorial from Andy Thrasher who did this with the Warrior Collective. It sums up perfectly to what I have been trying to say but in a shorter video!