Stance is one of the most basic tools in a combat athlete’s repertoire, but proper stance can be a bit tricky to master.
This blog is going to serve as a bit of a guide for the Open Stance. Myself, I like to stand more wide and open than the majority of the fighters, and I would say that #ChuckLiddell has a very wide stance, as well.
Now, when you mention this to a boxer, they will say: "But, then your body is wide open." Yes, it is, and if you really are that afraid to get hit in the stomach, I wouldn’t even take up fighting if I were you.
Let me see, in boxing, #MikeTyson was wide open when he fought, but how many times did he go down to the body? Not once? But, he is wide open?!
See what I mean? Trust me, once you start fighting like that, your defense to your mid-section will automatically get better. Let’s say that this would be a bad thing, being wide open—it’s not a bad thing—but for the sake of the argument ...
Now, let’s see what will get better for the fighter, especially when kicking is involved:
- Your jab becomes a straight because you can rotate your upper body. Jab is nice, but I “eat” a jab in order to trade it for a straight. With a left STRAIGHT, I won’t eat it. It’s a punch that you HAVE to block, slip or move away from, because otherwise, it might knock you out.
- You can open a combination with a left hook. Yes, you can do that when you “blade” (stand in one line) as well, but the problem is, you have to load up first. Ask Jens Pulver if that’s a smart idea. #DuaneLudwig was fighting him and we knew that Jens would do this, so I told Duane that at the moment Jens loads up, give him a right straight. The first time Jens did it Duane was too late, and he gave me a look like: ‘Damn, was too late,’ but the second connected hard.
- Your right straight will have more reach, and comes in handy when you fight taller guys. You can try this out if you want: Draw a line on the floor, blade, put the toes from your left foot (if you are orthodox) against the line and make a right straight, see how long it is and make sure you measure it. Now, stand wider and keep your toes behind the same line. You will find out you have a LOT more reach—I am talking at least half a foot.
- Blocking low kicks, oh man, when you let the toes from your front leg point to the left a bit (again, orthodox fighter), you only have to lift your leg up. It will be the fastest low-kick check you will ever have.
- Blocking right roundhouse kicks to the body? Well, if you stand in one line, you can turn to the left to block it, but he’s either going to kick your back (kidneys) or your left arm that you use to block. But, using both your arms to block a right kick (thrown with the back leg from your opponent, so it’s powerful) is very hard to do when you blade. However, it’s not when you stand open like I do. Even better, I can block the kick by rotating my upper body to the left. Now, I block with my right AND my left arm. That means my upper body is rotated to the left and that means that a left hook counter, or straight, is super powerful because it’s already fully loaded up.
Lucas Drews is a great Thai boxer who trained at our gym. I sent him to Antoni Hardonk because he has so much talent and I can’t train him every day, but when he was still with us he fought for an amateur title in Vegas.
We drill these defenses a lot; I hold Thai pads for him and am wearing shin pads, so while he is punching and kicking, I try to find spots where his body is open, and I kick those again while he is throwing punches and kicks.
He then has to block those kicks by rotating to the side and countering right away. So, when I throw a left roundhouse kick, whether it’s a low kick, middle or high kick, he rotates to the right, which automatically loads up his right hand, and he counters with a right-straight and left hook. When I kick with the right, he rotates to the left and counters with a left hook and right straight or a “1-2.”
So, Lucas’ fight started, and the guy threw a right roundhouse kick to the body. Lucas missed the first right kick counter, but the second one the opponent threw won him the title, because he knocked him out. It works great and these counters are much easier to do when you stand open.
What about power in your left leg for roundhouse kicks? Now, you can actually use your hips for more power. When you blade, you shut down the power of the roundhouse kicks from your front leg. Sure, you can still make a roundhouse kick, but you can only use your leg muscles, you can’t put your body weight in there. That’s just physics, and it’s impossible.
Can you still knock somebody out with it? Sure, when you hit him at the correct moment and correct spot, you can, but I am talking about making every left kick powerful.
Another great benefit if you stand wider is that most of the time, you stand on the ball of your right foot, which will give you way more explosive power moving forward than when you stand flat.
When you stand on your foot, you use more of your upper leg muscles, but the explosive muscles to push off of are your calves. That’s why when athletes start their 100-meter run, they have the balls of their back foot in the starting blocks, because they want to use all their leg muscles moving forward.
So, with all these great techniques available, you want to forget about them or not use them because you are afraid to get hit in the stomach? Come on now, kids!
Now, you might be thinking to yourself, "Yes, but that style Bas talks about only works with guys like him."
Not true, and I am not saying to only stand like that. Sure, if you want to be like Tyson, be my guest, but I am not trying to change your style. What I am doing is making you’re aware of the crazy power you can generate when you do have this stance.
Meaning, if #TJDillashaw is moving around, switching stances, throwing jabs, fake fast kicks out and suddenly dazes his opponent with one of his strikes, now it’s time to square up and throw your power shots, whether they are kicks, punches or, of course, both!
But, if you have to face a guy like Aldo, whose low kicks are super-fast, I would train you to stand wide, because then, blocking his low kicks is much easier than when you are blading, plus you will be in a perfect stance to counter with power shots, as well.
So, throw jabs and teeps (front kick with your front leg that’s thrown like a jab) as much as you want, but when you feel you need more power or easier counters, now you know what to do.
Godspeed and party on!
Read More of my Blogs:
- Why You Never Start a Fist Fight with an MMA Champion (on Christmas)
- Fighters Looking to Break into Acting: Please Don’t Think You Can Act
- El Guapo's Tips for Safer Training
- Ronda Rousey Should Look into Training with Duane Ludwig
Listen to the Rutten & Ranallo Podcast