How Your Fighting Stance Can Help or Hurt Your Fight Game Part 4 of 4- MMA, Muay Thai, and Boxing Fighting Stances
The title of this last part is the MMA stance with some references to the Muay Thai and Boxing fighting stances. This title can be deceiving because there is no standard MMA, Muay Thai, or Boxing stances. What we’re talking about here is a generic stance you’ll see most often among MMA fighters. Although it’s primarily seen in MMA fights, it is actually well suited for many styles of fighting including Wing Chun. Let’s take a look at it and how to use Wing Chun from a MMA stance and some drawback of using Wing Chun from a Muay Thai or Boxing stance.
First, in describing the MMA stance, it’s similar to the JKD stance in that the feet are on either side of the centerline pointed at a 45 degree angle. The feet are a bit more than shoulder width apart with the weight distributed about 50/50. The feet are not flat; one or both heels are slightly raised. The knees have a slight bend. The hips and shoulders are bladed and angled to create a smaller target for straight line attacks. The shoulders are up and the chin is tucked. The hands are both up high in front of the face and head. Usually, palms are facing out to parry, grab, or punch. Some fighters keep the hand closed in a fist. The elbows are down protecting the ribs.
As stated in the previous articles, stance is very reliant upon the range from which you fight. The generic MMA stance is great for all ranges of combat. At least one heel raised on the feet provides support for mobility and footwork at long range. The high guard provides protection at close range. From this stance you can apply most Wing Chun techniques with ease and without letting your opponent know what style you’re using. The feet being point inward help to bring the knee inward to protect the groin. While the groin can still be kicked, having the knee pointed inward aids in covering the groin quicker when a kick is inbound. With the feet on either side of the centerline, the stance is balanced. It becomes more difficult for an opponent to take your back as compared with a side stance. Also, this foot position allows the fighter to defend against force from any side of the body. The 50/50 weight distribution allows the fighter to move easily in any direction, sideways, forward, and backward.
The slight bend in the knee support springiness in the footwork so you can launch your defensive maneuver and offensive attacks with speed. Also, a bent knee helps protect it from knee kicks which can hyperextend the knee, break the leg, and end the fight. The bladed hips and shoulder do make for a smaller target when dealing with straight line attacks. However, from a Wing Chun perspective, it really doesn’t matter if your hips and shoulders are bladed or square. It depends on your strategy. Square hips and shoulders make it easy to triangle step and move to the side taking an angle. You can do this from a bladed stance as well, but will create a bit more motion and energy usage on the hip turn. To triangle step or side step, the squaring of the hips aids in the movement. If they are already square, then this is one less step. However, from long range, triangle stepping is less effective unless the opponent charges in. A bladed stance may be better at long range.
Keeping the chin tucked is just a good practice. There is no reason not to tuck the chin down. Keeping the shoulders up is a great defensive posture if that is your strategy. From a Wing Chun perspective, we prefer an aggressive defense combining Wing Chun trapping and covering with an attack. However, keeping the shoulder high in a defensive posture may be a helpful strategy to get your opponent to come in and then apply the aggressive Wing Chun attack/defense. Keeping the hand up high and palms out supports the use of Pak Sao and Lop Sao in particular. Offensively, it helps when using the Bil Jee. Closed fists in your stance are really only helpful really for punching and work well with boxing gloves where you can’t grab or use your hands as effectively.
I decided not to dedicate an entire article to the boxing or Mauy Thai stances, but wanted to touch on them here since they are similar to the MMA stance. The general boxing stance is narrower than the MMA stance since they do not have to worry about takedowns. This stance is not ideal for Wing Chun as it is too bladed and exposes the lead leg to leg kicks. The classic Muay Thai stance is also not recommended for Wing Chun because the legs are also narrow, but open. This allows the Thai fighter to kick with either leg and switch kick relatively easily. However, it leaves the groin exposed which is not a problem in rules-based combat sports, but real combat has no rules.
I recommend you try to apply your Wing Chun from a variety of stances. Don’t take anything you read as the absolute truth. The ideal is to be versatile in your application. Of course, you will have your favorite stances or the stance that will be your best for using Wing Chun. You may have a different stance depending on your opponent. When first starting out, it’s best to stick with one stance and maybe find variations of that one stance. If you like a MMA stance, perhaps, experiment with a different hand placement, weight distribution, or a wider base. I hope this has been helpful in your understanding and application of Wing Chun. This concludes the final part of this series on the fighting stances. Thank you for reading.
Wishing you happiness and peace of mind.