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STANCE: South, Orthadox or both

Stance is everything it's your foundation. Basics must be accomplished otherwise you will be building up other strengths onto a weakness: So start as you feel you will go on.

Neutral Stance: Facing forward, feet under shoulders (Slightly wider not too much) for perfect balance. (Your arms or fists can punch the same distance out in front of you.) This stance is wide open for frontal attack but is of great use when you are at someone's side because then you have two fists against one. To get into a front stance of orthodox or south all you have to do from here is turn your shoulders and waist around and adjust your feet slightly to comfort. Now if you turn to the right, Your right fist will be out in front and left fist back in defence. If you turn shoulders to the left then you are in the south stance. Think about all of the above because the positions outlined have strengths and weaknesses depending on where your opponent is and at which stance he is adapting at that moment in time. These are the basics in kung fu, fencing and should be in boxing also. The simplicity of shifting your centerline away from attack yet boosting the power of your counter punches can be derived through the above movements, It's called economy of movement and must be thought about in depth before proceeding to steps and flowing movement. Many fighting arts do not know this secret initial key to foundation footwork. It is what fighters like Kostya do when they pivot on the spot and cut off the ring except they only do it on one side because they are fixed into one stance. Boxers from all around the globe are starting to switch stance and are discovering the pros and cons to it. Once it is fully understood and the fear removed by knowledge, Then the future shape of boxing will evolve into an even more dramatic art form.

EXERCISE: to gain appreciation of basic stance and economy of movement:

Stand on a tiled floor or create a cross on your training floor. + Imagine the top as north and the left as west etc. (then we are talking the same language).

Stand with your feet on the east west line look ahead to north. Now turn your feet slightly at 45% point them at north west yet stay on the line in the same place, you have just slipped a straight punch that came at you from the north. A left straight punch from your opponent could be simultaneously slipped, blocked and attacked using the same movement. As you turn to N>W put out a straight jab with your right. SEE you have sent a right jab over the top of a left jab and you have moved your centerline out of the line of fire simultaneously cocking your right hip and your body weight into your right straight jab. : Total economy. The next move would be to head up the outside of his guard and attack him from his left side, that way you are avoiding his fists because you are on the outside of his left arm. If you launch all your attacks over his elbow then you have control of his balance point as well. Try it with your sparring partner.

BIG NOTE: All of the above should be practiced the opposite way around then you are going to become a switch stance fighter who understands the outcomes, not just a showman. Use the cross and visualize your opponent coming in from all angles. If he launches an extended lunging attack move your leading leg back behind your rear leg and change your leading hands around from natural to south and voila you have moved to his outside again and have your 2 fists against his none. This all works in many different combinations and visualization and practice is the only answer to becoming proficient.

NEUTRAL STANCE WEAKNESS: Never would one be caught in a neutral stance in front of an on coming opponent: I t is from a neutral stance that you begin to form an understanding of things and unless at someone's side it is of little use other than being non committed to one action. From neutral stance you can slip one leg back to put yourself into front stance or the other leg back to gain front stance in the other front stance. Whichever leg retreats so does the rear hand. No fighting art has a left foot back with a left fist out in front guard or the opposite with right foot right fist:" try it out and you will feel open all over".

STEPS: All vary from skips to shuffles with every combination in-between including flying at someone. It's which stance you land in that counts.

PRACTICE: Stepping through with your jabs hooks and crosses. And twisting into the blow flexing every muscle from your toes right up through your legs body shoulder arm and turn wrist into target on impact for finishing shots. Practice a straight jab with your fist in a near vertical position (bottom of fist slightly turned in) and aim at your target as if you are smashing a pole through it, (using from your elbow through to your wrist like a pole (turning your same foot inwards slightly on impact can shift ½ of your body weight into the shot; its fast and devastating as it is fired from in front of you and the fastest point in between to points is a straight line.

PRACTICE: Standing in front of the heavy bag with your fist 1 or 2 inches away put your fist vertical as above cock your wrist down, relax your stance in a neutral setting cock your arm slightly. Start off by placing fist onto bag and thrust bottom 3 knuckles down and into it without any other movement. Now do the same except lift the heel of the same foot that you are punching with and you notice that the bag swung 3 inches to start and 6 inches second. Next tense each muscle in leg and toes, then put your hip into it, back muscles, shoulder, cock arm and snap the wrist into a rigid fixed state just on impact. By putting all this together (which takes a couple of weeks to get down) you have a weapon that can explode at short range and can put your heavy bag floating up near the roof. This 1 inch punch will not cut someone but in a nose-to-nose situation can send your opponent plummeting backwards up to 6 feet away and that is the point you aim for when striking (6 feet away). Or at a Ref J .

NATURAL ABILITY: Remember the first time anyone ever threw something at you and your arms went up automatically. Your elbow went up above your head with your other hand backing up the elbow protecting your face and your chest. In kung fu this is called Bon sao it means wing arm. I have increasingly noticed the use of it in boxing. When someone has another against the ropes and its on nose to nose with the odd step back and hook you notice because of the shortened range, that men start to naturally block with their elbow and when its held up like a wing with the fist down in front of the chest it becomes a runway for the blow to go up and over your head. If you turn and face the shot it becomes a hard full stop and damages the wrist of the incoming blow, to go one step ahead: is to actually attack the incoming hook with your elbow! One step further to this is to walk through it at the same time, opening up your opponent's guard.

PRACTICE: All of the above with your sparring partner pinning you against the ropes and hooking into you. Get comfortable with what comes naturally. Your aim is to get out of his firing line, which in real terms is out to his side so that he has to turn into you and that's where you run or catch him as he turns. With the right elbow block you can duck, straighten the arm and slip out under his heavy left hook pushing his elbow across his center line as you go, first with the right glove then exchanging contact to the left glove as you are out to his side now. As he turns into you, you could hit him with two fists at the one time, one high and one low directing force at two 45% angles up and down through his body! (Nothing in the rules to state you cannot do this). If you do a double strike one over the outside of someone's guard and the other below using vertical fists and stepping into them with your body weight as they are turning into you? That's an instant KO.

NOTE: Some of these techniques only work in certain situations, but in real terms, unless you think it first it's never going to happen. Situations and timing are everything in battle. Same as in life, If one day you walked down the street dressed as an ice cream you'd probably get licked J . Next day people could be throwing money at you! The limits are the limits of your mind set. Champions dare to go beyond the normal acceptable boundaries in their chosen sport. It will happen in boxing soon too. Lateral thought, stretch the rulebook, do the unexpected. If I was starting over again in training I would train my weakest side first (for about a year) one handed pushups fighting in south only until it felt natural, so that when I fought, my mind would be balanced, hands at equal strength, equal speed, footwork balanced. Foundations are everything.

I've seen Iron Mike block some with his forehead! How game and fantastic is that to actually bow your head and refuse to move so that you can set up and view that uppercut!

Muhammad Ali knocked out some one while going backwards under fire! He momentarily stopped for a split second, raised his back heel off the ground while turning his hip into a short right!

When someone does the wind up and is standing in front of you whirling their fist around turn your back on them and walk off!(out the same side as the act) Make them look stupid! Or catch them when that fist is in the air, walk out to the side underneath it and uppercut, as a backup defence from the other arm "nothing to lose at this stage you're in trouble if he's playing with you"!

If you feel a fist in your face follow it back to its source with that arm on the same side its not a threat when its expended or extended just step away from the other one because you can bet its close behind!

What would happen if you lent back on the ropes and bought your knee up to block body shots while your gloves maintained the upper guard? When the attacker had expended his energy you could use the power of your weight coming down to blast him away. Just a thought. And that is where all things start, in your head, so visualize all things and all things are possible. Practice all things and then there are no surprises.

Trust in your natural ability; especially you're natural instinct and train' onto it' not away from it. Hone your skill first before learning to wield another.

Don't think one two one two. Think 12345 more… combinations are next.

By Andre Linnell

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