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When it comes to combat sports, the foundation of every movement, whether that be an attack, some kind of defensive movement or even just moving around the ring or mat, starts with having a proper stance. 

Having a proper stance will make sure that you can hit as hard as possible move as quickly as possible and be able to defend and even take strikes as well as possible. In combat sports, there are many stances with most being optimized for their specific style, sport and/or ruleset. 

What this article covers:

In side some sports there are even different kinds of stances so that the competitors can optimize their stances to fit their style perfectly. That being said if you take a look at different combat sports you can see obvious differences between the stances.

When it comes to freestyle wrestling, the stance is very low so they can shoot in, as well as sprawl effectively and quickly. 

However, even among different martial arts that purely focus on stand-up and striking, there can still be radical differences between the different disciplines' stances. Let’s take two of the most popular striking arts in the world, boxing and muay thai, and compare their stances. 

Start your Muay Thai journey with combat legend Duane "Bang" Ludwig and DynamicStriking.com!

muay thai stance vs. boxing stance

If you take a look at the traditional muay thai and boxing stances you will immediately notice some differences but what separates these stances is way more than skin deep. So let’s go over the muay thai stance vs boxing stance. 

This is different from the conversation of the MMA stance vs Boxing stance which is another conversation. 

Thai vs Boxing

When it comes to the Thai vs. Boxing positions, there are a few things that you can immediately notice right off the bat, the first being the general posture of the two stances. The boxing stance is much lower with more of a pronounced rounding of the shoulders forward with the knees bent fairly deep.

Boxers also tend to stand with a fairly standard high guard having the hands generally around the temples or at least the chin with the palms of their hands facing each other. When it comes to the feet they are kept about shoulder length apart with the rear foot pointing to the side and the lead slightly turned in to make the fighter bladed. Doing this hides more of their body from their opponent. 

Having a stance like this allows for a boxer to maximize the reach of their jab, as well as easily be able to get low to make full use of head movements like slips and weaves. This stance also maximizes the power of punches thanks to its bladed nature. This means that punches can put more rotational force into them and therefore hit even harder. 

The muay thai stance on the other hand is much more upright with little to no bend in the knees. Fighters also tend to not lean over from the upper body and generally have less rounded shoulders. The feet are generally less than shoulder width apart and the feet are either both facing forward or with the rear pointed to the side with the lead facing front. This makes the fighters stand more square with their center mass facing their opponent. 

Muay Thai fighters also tend to be very light on their front leg with it usually bouncing when they are stationary or stepping in a kind of march even if they are just standing in place. This allows them to fire off kicks and knees faster, as well as use their legs to check kicks. This also makes it harder to guess the fighter's next move. 

Muay Thai fighters also tend to keep their hands very high with the palms facing their opponent so that they can enter the clinch and catch punches better. 

Both these stances are called southpaw boxing stances or orthodox boxing stances depending on which foot is in front. Some fighters in both styles even switch stances

Muay Thai Attacks vs Boxing Attacks

Obviously, there are going to be differences in the way that both stances attack, given the rule set of both sports. However, there are comparisons that we can make. 

The first is that since boxers rely totally on punches, their stance is optimized for that. Boxers use their stance to throw both power shots and punches in fast multiple punch combinations. A boxer's stance also allows for more mobility, so that boxers can use fast footwork to evade from their opponent and dance around the ring. 

The boxer's stance also allows for quick dips, bobs and slips, which help to set up counter shots and create better angles that fighters can capitalize on. 

Boxers also tend to attack in combinations, starting with their lead hand to set up the rear and then following up from there.

To contrast the boxing stance, fighters in the Muay Thai stance have much more weapons to deal with and also throw. The upright posture of this stance lends itself to using more long-range weapons, which is why Muay Thai fighters tend to have a heavy reliance on kicks. The upright stance allows for fighters to quickly throw their kicks, especially off of the lead leg where there is less weight put on and might also be bouncing. 

This upright stance also helps with fighting in the clinch, which under Muay Thai rules is completely legal. In the clinch, fighters tend to favour standing up tall with an upright posture and neck to prevent their head from being pulled downwards toward knees and elbows. 

The placement of the fighter's palms facing the opponent also helps fighters reach for and establish the clinch quickly because the hands are already in place to grab onto their opponent. This position of the hands also allows for the quicker use of elbow strikes which are also legal in Muay Thai. 

The more squared stance also allows for the use of more straight shots, especially push kicks, also known as teeps, and spearing knees. 

The square stance and multiple weapons of Muay Thai also lends to those fighters using less combinations, especially longer ones, with many fighters sticking to single shots or two-shot combinations, usually starting with punches to set up a kick, knee, elbow or entrance into the clinch. 

Defense from a Thai Stance vs Boxing Stance

When it comes to defense from the boxing stance, a big part of boxing is making your opponent miss, so that means that the first defense a lot of fighters tend to go with is simply not being there. A large number of boxers both at the amateur and pro level will use their footwork as their first line of defense. 

Other than that boxers can rely on their tight guards to block punches to both the body and the head. Because boxers only have to deal with punches they can slip bob and roll freely without the risk of getting hit with a kick or knee like Muay Thai or MMA fighters do. 

This means that those kinds of head movements are viable and even maybe preferable for some fighters to use head movement to make their opponent miss them so that they don’t have to get hit at all. Slipping and bobbing also opens up counters and allows fighters to create new angles that they can get big attacks from. 

When it comes to the Muay Thai stance, fighters in this stance focus more on blocking to as their primary focus of defense. This is because of the square and tight stance with the feet closer together, which makes it harder to be as mobile as someone in the boxing stance. The upright posture also makes fancy head movement harder than it is in boxing. On top of that Muay Thai fighters have to think about knees and kicks, so getting low to dodge a punch is a very risky move, especially if you do it frequently to the point where your opponent can pick up on it. 

Muay Thai fighters will use both their arms and legs to block since they are getting attacked with both arms and legs. When it comes to defending against punches, Muay Thai fighters will use many of the same blocks to punches that boxers would. When it comes to kicks, Thai boxers will use their shin to check low kicks and body kicks and use a double block to defend against high kicks and also body kicks, as well as parries for straight kicks and knees. 

Muay Thai fighters will also catch kicks to set up attacks and even dump their opponent onto the ring or mat. 

When ti comes to head movement the most you will see is fighters leaning away from head kicks. To dodge leg kicks some Muay Thai fighters will also drag their lead leg back to make their opponent miss and hopefully spin around. 

Some Muay Thai fighters will also use the clinch defensively to stop a fighter from attacking. This is especially the case for more physical Muay Thai fighters who are fighting against more outfighting-based fighters to take away their opponent’s primary weapons. 

Weaknesses of Both Stances

When it comes to the boxing stance, the weaknesses tend to get exposed when weapons other than just punching are introduced. The way that the legs are positioned leaves them open to low kicks, as well as takedowns. Head movement can also be dangerous as getting low against an opponent who is capable of throwing knees or kicks or snapping you down to the floor is a very bad idea.

When it comes to the weaknesses of the Muay Thai stance are somewhat similar. The lack of mobility due to the small distance between the feet means that avoiding power shots and takedowns by moving out of the way is much harder. The upright stance also leaves fighters open to takedowns as sprawling will take longer and might be too late. 

The more square hips with the fighter's chest facing towards their opponent also gives your opponent more surface area to land their power shots on. It also exposes the liver, which is a critical point in the human body that if hit will likely drop pretty much any opponent. 

Comparison of the Two Stances for MMA

When it comes to these two different stances and how they are integrated in MMA, it truly depends on what you want to prioritize more. There are fighters that have brought both stances into the world of MMA and have had great success. 

Start your Muay Thai journey with combat legend Duane "Bang" Ludwig and DynamicStriking.com!

muay thai vs boxing stance

When it comes to the boxing stance, you will be able to use your footwork more readily avoid your opponent, even when it comes to attacks that aren’t punches like kicks and takedowns. However, these stances' more bladed nature means that if those kinds of attacks do land, they will be much more devastating. It is very hard to check or block kicks from this stance, especially when they are to your lead side. Sprawling to defend against low takedown attempts like single legs and double legs, meaning that if your opponent manages to get in on you, you are going to have a very tough time sprawling to defend.

When it comes to the Muay Thai stance for MMA, the advantage is a more well-rounded defense as all the strikes that are legal in MMA are the ones that are also legal in Muay Thai./ This means that Muay Thai fighters will have an easier time dealing with the striking offense of their opponents. The stance that Muay Thai fighters take, as well as their experience, will help Muay Thai fighters deal with upper body takedown attempts, as well as help get into a dominating position to score there own takedowns or sweeps, or just throw some attacks. 

However, the squared-off nature of this stance means that the legs are open to shots, similar to the boxing stance. A wrestler seeing a square stance sees an instant opening for the legs. The squared stance also makes it hard to move, with footwork and movement being the primary form of defense in MMA, this is determinantal. 

Really it comes to your preference,  each stance has their ups and downs and you should play around with both to see which one gives you more success.

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