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Getting Behind
Southpaw Training Notes for MMA: 3/3/24
© 2024 James LaFond
I am in my final month in the Pacific Northwest and just received a text from an eastern fighter wondering if I could view videos of his opponent. No, I can’t. This computer, which is only set up to write and go to the back end of the main website, refuses to link with YouTube. The other computer, that does everything and does watch videos without sound, cannot find the wyfy. I will try and have some big brained nimbus fix this situation in April. The problem is it has to be fixed in each location.
Until then, here are my thoughts on viewing videos of whoever you are going to fight.
The man in question is a southpaw.
However, in MMA, with leads switching as much as in kick boxing, rather than be stuck as the southpaw, fighting out of the opposite lead as your adversary, think in terms of making and exploiting the southpaw situation. A lot of the kick boxing I see in MMA, is Thai oriented and has more fluid lead orientations then in the kicking arts I dealt with in the 70s and 80s. This makes it better for the southpaw. It is not that you are left handed, so much, as that you have more practice leading with the opposite hand-leg as your opponent than he does—unless he is also an evil lefty.
It is axiomatic that the fighter in any art, from grappling, boxing, kick boxing, stick-fighting, knife-fighting, MMA and in warfare, wants to be BEHIND his opponent. The social context of prize fighting and sports obscures this to the point where only certain boxers seem to understand it. Among combat athletes, boxers are the most stupid and least intelligent. But, the fact that their art is weighted with more fouls and corruption than other arts seems to predispose the more intelligent boxer to make a conscious effort to get behind his opponent.
As a coach, I preach this constantly, and all of you knuckleheads shrug it off because it conflicts with your heroic self image. All elite boxers who do not hit harder than their opponent, try and get behind him. Since Sean has a track record of taking fights with much bigger men, I’m going to assume that the opponent is bigger, and if he drops out, that the next cracker will be much bigger—perhaps the first member of his bloodline to walk upright.
Watch Mayweather and Hopkins in their latter bouts for studies on getting behind a bigger man. The retarded thing about fighters, is that while boxers are best at getting behind the opponent, they are obliged to stall there. MMA men, allowed to work from behind, act like getting behind is beneath them while striking. I want you to keep the grappling attitude about getting behind while you are striking.
Catch Weight
The best example of the importance of hitting the chest is Roy Jones Junior versus John Ruiz.
In catch weight fights, both the small man and big man should try and punch the chest in order to set the other on his heels and gain the movement advantage. This is more important for the small man.
When both work from the same lead, this is best done with the jab.
When from opposite leads, this should be done with the sneaky [thumb up] rear hand.
Target the solar plexus, breast bone and chin to save your thumb and wrist.
Either lead, jab or rear hand, works good when he is squaring up from a spent round kick.
Hitting the gut has a risk of him bending into you. You want him on his heels.
Owning The Wheelhouse
Even non fighter boxing fans know that the southpaw situation makes it an advantage for either player to have his lead foot on the outside of the opponent’s lead foot. This puts him in your wheel house. If you can keep him here, he will have an ugly night at the office.
If he is any good you will need to take one of the following gambits to put him in your wheel house:
… the U-Hustle
… moving to your open side behind the jab. This baits and risks him throwing his rear hand and his rear round kick. If he does not KO you with this, his impulsive power strike should put him in your wheelhouse, with you behind his spent rear hand or foot. Even if you are a runt like me lacking confidence sparring with Beast O’Neal, who beat the piss out of me 10 days ago, you have to move to your open side at some point to get him to shadow you, so you can C-step him into your wheel house.
… the C-step, is not the inside, forward, C-step of traditional karate, but a diagonal side step forward to your right lead, passing his left lead, by keeping the weight on your rear left foot while you describe an outward C with your foot, around his foot, to avoid you spraining your ankle and tripping if he steps in. As your C-step places your right lead outside his left lead, you sneak that straight left rear hand into his chest, solar plexus or chin.
The Open Wheel House
If you manage to sucker this man into throwing his rear hand or leg, instead of trading with him, throwing your rear round kick, how about you swing that ham-hock leg behind him and become his mugger?
This is the least likely way to get him in your wheel house and is more of an MMA than boxing situation, so use your imagination watching him in films. If he has a habit of switching or stalling leads when throwing the rear leg or hand, then lure him into that position and get behind him. I know, the hero in you wants to stand in front of the corn fed mastodonian…
Here is an idea, clip audio of Lou Duva yelling at Evander Holyfield in any number of fights against bigger men, “Don’t be a fuckin’ hero!” and play that on a loop while you train.
The Closed Side Wheelhouse
Once you have U-hustled around this cracker, set him on his heels with a sneaky rear hand, or use the slick C-step to get your lead right foot next to, or behind, but to the outside of his lead left, I have some suggestions.
-Standing side control, two hands on one
-Rear side control, by sliding behind him
-Shovel hook to his hip as you slide further behind or clinch and feed him another rear hand. See Hopkins for punching the hip in the clinch.
-Sweep with the right leg that is behind his left lead leg
-Round kick him in the side of the knee
-The easiest is to throw the right hook to his left ear, temple, eye.
As per the hook. Look at his videos to see how he reacts to the right hook:
… does he shield
… does he shell
… does he duck
He will probably stay on his heels if you have set him there with a straight rear hand. If he does, I suggest you fire another rear straight left to his chin or chest as you slide further behind. Checking with the right hand would assist this.
The Southpaw Jab
I know, I have forgotten the jab, which is all I let you do for six months. Don’t feel cheated, Son. Target his eyes with your jab. Pump the blind jab at his eyes when drifting to your open left side. Pump it at his left eye over his left lead as you you fade, U-hustle, C-step to your right side past and behind his left.
The jab, for you, in a situation when he is bigger, is your smoke screen to blind him to your foot work.
Be prepared to do a lot of shoulder checking with that lead right, by dropping it from worrying his eye to his shoulder. If he is taller and looks over his lead left, then feint the jab at his eyes to get him to pull back his lead and lock his hips, and drop that jab hand to his arm and step behind him while you throw the straight left. If he has a habit of leaning his head back and keeping a low lead, build your tactics around this flaw, so common to tall boxers and kick boxers.
Your goal is to get behind this guy. You want to achieve the suplex position, even, and especially, if he is too big for you to throw.
Develop two drills to your open side and three to your closed lead side, one each of the first 5 days. Introduce no new tools. Use existing punches.
For each drill.
-Do it 10 times in slow motion on the Thai bag
-Do it 10 times slowly on each of the other bags
-Shadow it 100 times in the ring
-Hit each bag 10 times at half speed
-100 times at full speed on Thai bag
-Move to the open mat and do a half hour on that.
Give yourself a day on each drill.
Finish each day with 30 minutes of shadow boxing where you insert each of the five drills into the set, doing only those.
Day 1 is just the one drill, that’s it. Set this drill up behind the blind jab.
Day 2, you are shadowing 2 drills, set up by the blind jab.
After a week of this, just shadow box for 4 hours a day on the weekend.
The day you would fight, and the day after, make them shadowboxing days.
Don’t hit the bag the last 2 days before the fight.
Do, not.
On Monday go back to your regular routine and see where and how these drills pop up in your shadow boxing, bag work and sparring.
After your training, watch him fight.
Don’t watch him in the morning.
In the morning, recall his fights and use them in your training.
Watch him fight every day after you train. If you watch him before training, it will sap your initiative and have him loom too large in your mind’s eye. You are recruiting him as an assistant in the dance of his demise. Don’t let him lead in your mind. Even when he moves first, that needs to be understood as a reaction to your action.
Move first.
Move more.
Move last.
This whole fight needs to be sculpted by you as a dance that gets him to commit his weight and direction when it serves you.
Good Luck.
James, Portland, Oregon.
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