The Wonderboy Shuffle with Stephen Thompson
The ultimate goal in a fight is to hit the hardest and to hit the most. While a lot goes into that such as strength and proper technique, in order to achieve that you need to be in the right position. Specifically this means standing in the proper form, and moving swiftly with spot on timing.
In this video Stephen “Wonderboy” Thompson shares some of his pro tips when it comes to the shuffle movement. Check it out below!
When you take a look at Stephen’s career, his success is insurmountable. He began his career at the age of three training under his father, who was a professional kickboxer and owned a karate school. By the age of fifteen Stephen was competing in both kickboxing and karate.
Stephen holds fifteen World Champion and Amateur World Champion titles in kickboxing, and has a 15-4 record in Mixed Martial Arts. He has been fighting in the UFC since 2012 and earned Fight of the Night multiple times along with many wins over the years.
Stephen was undefeated through 37 amateur and 20 professional kickboxing matches. He possesses a black belt in Jiu Jitsu, adding a grappling game to all of his striking experience. He has been widely regarded as one of the most accomplished strikers in UFC history, so let’s take a look at what he has to offer.
Make Movement A Weapon! Click Learn More!
In the video, Wonderboy starts off by explaining that the foundation of all that he does is “covering the distance”. Clarifying that although it can be basic, the shuffle movement is what he uses most often to cover distance.
Stephen begins to break down the concept of fighting, being that you want to be able to hit your opponent before he can hit you. Sounds simple enough, however there are some steps to take to be able to do that. The most important idea being that you are able to quickly close the gap before your opponent sees you.
He explains that many other fighters sort of slowly wade in with half steps towards their opponent, which can be effective but often results in you taking a bunch of damage.The ultimate goal is to quickly explode into the pocket with power and get out before your opponent has a chance to respond.
The first step in beginning the shuffle movement is to be in your fighting stance. An orthadox stance looks like having your right foot forward and left foot back, bending at the knees and having your back heel up with the weight on the ball of your foot to get you ready to launch yourself forward. Additionally covering your face, because the stance is useless if you leave yourself open to take one on the chin.
When moving forward in your fighting stance, you should always be pushing yourself forward off your back leg while lifting your front leg slightly off the ground. Just the opposite for moving backwards, you lift up your back foot and push yourself backwards using your front foot. Doing this allows you to stay in the same stance while moving which is extremely important. Messing up your footwork can easily off balance you and put you in a vulnerable position to get hit or taken down.
Stephen explains that every movement you make can be giving a tell to your opponent. Trained fighters obviously know how to read body movement to predict what is coming next. He uses Anderson Silva as a great example of this, stating he is excellent at not giving away tells and you never know when he is coming because of that.
When moving forward, the lifting of the front leg needs to be subtle because raising it high is an obvious tell that you are attempting to move in to close the gap. As soon as that front foot comes up, you push yourself forward using your back foot and land in the exact same stance. This should all be one swift and balanced movement.
The best way to become proficient in this movement is practice. Stephen suggests practicing this in a mirror so you can incorporate looking forward as you would in a fight, but also so you are able to see yourself moving to make sure your stance doesn’t change while doing it.
Stephen also goes over a common mistake while using the shuffle movement. This being after pushing off with the back leg, people bring that back leg up way closer to their front leg and eliminate the shoulder width apart stance. This allows your opponent to easily time kicking your legs out from underneath you since your weight isn’t distributed properly, or taking you down. On top of the risk of being in a poor position to actively defend yourself, you are also not in a good position to throw any punches or kicks when you are standing with your legs so close together.
Think about some other great, well known fighters such as Conor McGregor and Anderson Silva. Whether it is head movement and slipping punches or footwork, they seem to effortlessly be floating around the ring. In order to win a fight not only do you need to be able to deliver powerful blows, but you need to be able to avoid them as well.
Stephen “Wonderboy” Thompson is one of the most versatile fighters there are. He knows when and how to get in and out of the pocket as effectively as possible. To get more drills and technique to improve your ability to efficiently float around the ring, check out the rest of his instructional here!