Southpaw vs Orthodox Stances: The Impact on Fighting Techniques

The world of combat sports has witnessed a remarkable surge in popularity over recent years. From the precise strikes of Boxing to the mixed martial arts (MMA) fights that combine disciplines like wrestling, Brazilian jiu-jitsu, and Muay Thai, these combat sports have gained mainstream attention, becoming a central element of the global sports scene. Wushu, with its blend of traditional Chinese martial arts and modern combat, and Kickboxing, known for its powerful kicks and punches, have also joined this dynamic array of popular sports.

As evidence of this uptick, recent reports suggest that the global market for combat sports is expected to grow at a CAGR of over 6% from 2022 to 2027. This expansion is fueled by an increasing number of participants and spectators, propelled by live broadcasts and online streaming platforms that reach millions of fans worldwide.

What is Southpaw vs Orthodox in Combat Sports?

In the heart of these riveting combat sports lies a critical aspect—fighting stances. A stance is the way a fighter positions their body while preparing to strike or defend. It’s one of the most fundamental elements of combat sports because it dictates the fighter’s balance, reach, and power.

There are primarily two stances in combat sports: Southpaw and Orthodox. An orthodox stance is where the fighter leads with the left side of their body, meaning the left hand and foot are forward. It’s called “orthodox” because this is the most common stance, usually adopted by right-handed fighters.

On the other hand, a southpaw stance is the opposite. Here, fighters lead with the right hand and foot forward—typically a choice for left-handed individuals. The term “southpaw” originates from baseball and refers to left-handed pitchers, but it’s now commonly used in boxing and other combat sports.

The existence of two fighting stances provides strategic diversity and complexity in the sport. They create a unique dynamic during fights, especially when an orthodox fighter meets a southpaw, creating what is known as an ‘open guard’ situation.

Pros & Cons of Southpaw


  • Southpaws are often at an advantage because their opponents, usually orthodox fighters, are not as accustomed to the angles that Southpaws present. This can give Southpaws a unique element of surprise and a different offensive edge.
  • Southpaws typically have a defensive advantage against orthodox fighters. They can often use their leading right hand to block or deflect the powerful right hand of an orthodox opponent, reducing the threat from an opponent’s most dangerous weapon.
  • Due to the limited number of southpaws, orthodox fighters often find it challenging to find suitable sparring partners to simulate the southpaw style. This scarcity can give southpaws an edge in fights, as their opponents may struggle to adapt to their approach.


  • Despite their advantages, southpaws often face a shortage of resources and training guides, as the majority are catered towards the orthodox fighters. This lack of materials can limit their learning opportunities.
  • Southpaws usually spar and compete against orthodox fighters, which means they often need to adapt their techniques. While this can be an advantage, it also puts pressure on them to be more adaptable and versatile.
  • While southpaws often handle right-handed strikes well, they can be more vulnerable to left hooks, a common and powerful weapon for an orthodox fighter.

Pros & Cons of Orthodox


  • Orthodox fighters benefit from a wealth of resources and training guides due to the prevalence of this stance in combat sports. It makes learning new techniques and strategies more accessible.
  • With a larger number of fighters adopting the orthodox stance, it’s easier for these fighters to find sparring partners. This makes practicing and preparing for fights more convenient.
  • Orthodox fighters have their right hand (usually the stronger hand) at the back, allowing them to deliver a powerful right cross—a significant weapon in their arsenal.


  • The prevalence of the orthodox stance means opponents often have plenty of experience fighting against it, making orthodox fighters’ moves more predictable.
  • Orthodox fighters usually spar with other orthodox fighters, limiting their experience against southpaws. This can put them at a disadvantage when facing a Southpaw opponent.
  • While a strong right cross is an advantage, over-relying on this single weapon makes you predictable, and a skilled opponent can exploit it.

How to Identify the Best Stance

A common strategy is to get familiar with both stances. Switching between orthodox and southpaw during a fight can confuse opponents and provide a tactical advantage. However, the best stance for a fighter largely depends on their comfort, dominant hand, and fighting style. Some fighters naturally gravitate towards a particular stance and feel more comfortable and balanced in that position.


Deciding between a southpaw and an orthodox stance is often a natural process that happens as you start training. You might find yourself naturally favoring one over the other. In terms of prevalence, the orthodox stance is more common due to the majority of the population being right-handed.

However, it’s essential to remember that a fighter’s skill is not determined solely by their stance. Great fighters master their chosen stance, adapt to their opponents, and leverage strategies that best suit their style. Whether southpaw or orthodox, it is the fighter’s heart, dedication, and skill that ultimately leads to victory in the ring.

Categories MMA