How To Fight A Southpaw – Principles, Moves & Stances

October 2, 2018

Have you ever wondered how to fight a southpaw? His jab and left cross are generally very difficult for right-handed fighters.

Southpaw fighting is a true nightmare for right-handed Muay Thai fighters. Especially if their everyday routine is performed with their right hand!

Openings and defense simply have to be different, just as the movement. The mechanics of movement is completely different when you fight left-handed fighter. You can be stronger physically, but you need a technique to win. Successful blocking is the key when you fight a southpaw. Actually, southpaw fighting style has similarities to fighting yourself in the mirror.

Left cross is usually more dangerous because you mostly stay away from the right hand. This tutorial will help you understand the best solutions against southpaw muay thai fighters. Right leg is the leading leg of southpaw fighters. Left leg is their rear leg. The Muay Thai stance is mirrored. Their left hand is used for knockout power and strong strikes, while right hand creates the space or comes as the second or third punch of the combo.

How to Fight a Southpaw - Saenchai, A Great Southpaw

Here is a tutorial that describes how to counter a southpaw fighter.

How to fight a southpaw - blocking

You must understand the most important principle if you want to know how to fight a southpaw technically – T-position or 4-1 position. Southpaw fighter can simply make a step forward and he can throw almost every strike with his left knee or leg, while his right hand or leg may also look for openings. An orthodox fighter has limited options with his leading leg, leading punch, or a low kick. It means more angles are opened during the fight. It makes blocking a nightmare, especially if your opponent knows to perform fake moves.

Seven basic blocking techniques can be successfully applied here.

Three things are needed to block southpaw’s attacks – anticipation, reaction time, and theoretical knowledge. The third one is described below. It is easier to block jab and left cross when you know all the possibilities.

#1 - Right Jab

The first thing you mustn’t neglect when you want to fight a southpaw is the most important one. His right hand opens the space up, while his left hand is a more dangerous weapon. There is one good advice for everybody who tries to fight a southpaw – if you are able to intercept and stop his jab, he will not go that offensive. His right hand is his front hand, so pay attention to the text!


Do it with the close guard helps. For the safest block, lift your left hand up, keeping the elbow near the level of your chin.


There are two options to parry this attack – slap the lateral part of his right hand with your left hand, or slap the upper part of his right hand, putting it down.


A bit tricky since you must lean to the opposite side. Lean your head to the left. To leave the space for counters open, lean your body too. Optionally, you can lean back, but for the safety, lean to the back and left at the same time.


The best strikes for disruption are rear teep kick or front kick. The front side kick is useful, but there is a danger your leg could slide down the opponent’s hip. You can disrupt with a right low kick, but your head must move to the left.


You can catch the hand by grabbing the lateral part of the wrist with your left hand. However, if you miss, you will surely get a punch to the head.


Leaves many options opened. If you lean to the left, you can attack with a right cross, right uppercut, or right hook, both to the body and head. Right overhand is a great option, just as a left uppercut and a left hook to the face and body.

Right diagonal kick is good for a counter but keep your hands up. Right spinning back kick is one more option, but you need to be extremely fast.

#2 - Left Cross

The second lesson when you learn how to fight a southpaw – stay away from the left cross! No matter how stronger or faster you are, you will always remain open for this technique. Even if your reflexes and movement are world-class, one wrong move can send you to the ground!

This is the most dangerous weapon of many southpaw fighters. It is the trademark of Lyoto Machida, an amazing UFC fighter.

How To Fight A Southpaw - Left Cross


When it comes to blocking, a closing guard is a good and the safest option. However, you have two more options. Open your right hand and let it receive the punch, or lift your right elbow to the level of your chin.


This is a very difficult task. When you fight right-handed fighter, this attack is not that strong. Southpaw usually has a big left, so you have to push it to your left side by slapping the lateral side of opponent’s left hand with your right arm. You can push it to the right with your left hand if your defense is late, but this is very risky. The safest way is to push his hand down with your right hand.


To avoid the strike, move to the right. It is unnatural to you, but it is definitively better than a knockout. A side step is a good option too. If you decide to lean back, you will have to lean to your right too.


Disruption strikes, in this case, are karate front kick (the most effective one), front teep kick, and front low kick (your head must move to the right at the same time).


Catching this strike is extremely risky, but possible. You need to grab the lateral part of the opponent’s hand with your right hand. One advice – make the step back when trying to catch it to decrease the power of the incoming strike.


You don’t have many options to counter. When you lean your head and body to the right, try to knock him down with a strong right cross. Good options are a right uppercut, or right cross if you are not too close.

When it comes to kicks, right spinning back kick and right spinning heel kick are the best way to neutralize the attack. If you fight in a Muay Thai fight, perform these counters and fall down intentionally. This will prevent you from the opponent’s barrage in the case you miss.

#3 - Right Jab To The Body

You mustn’t neglect body attacks when you are learning how to fight a southpaw. If he opens you up with the body punch, the neural receptors in your brain will send the signal to put your hands down and try to prevent your mid-section. This will leave your head open for a brutal left cross, hook, or an overhead!


You can close guard for blocking, and make sure to lower your elbows. Another option is putting your left hand inside. Make sure to rotate left foot clockwise to close the angles.


Do you want to parry the attack? Slap the opponent’s hand down with your left hand.


When you want to avoid the incoming strike, you can move your feet backward. Move your glutes and stomach backward if the distance is bigger, keeping your feet steady.


Rear teep kick is good to disrupt the attack, just as a front side kick. Karate front kick is one more great option.


Catching is easy – simply grab the upper part of the opponent’s arm with your right hand. Make sure to move to the left to minimize the chance of receiving the left cross.


Countering requires you to block a punch and deliver right hook, right cross, or right uppercut to the head.

When it comes to leg counters, right spinning back kick is a good option, but a bit risky. Right diagonal kick might hit the target.

#4 - Left cross to the body

Don’t forget stunning left cross to the body when you think of how to fight a southpaw. This attack can be followed by a strong uppercut, hook, or a devastating low kick. And yes, left body punch can end up the fight with ease!


Close your guard and lower the fist to the level of your chin for a successful block. You can also rotate your right hand, body, and right foot counterclockwise.


The safest way of parrying the strike is slapping opponent’s hand on the upper side with your right hand.


You can avoid the strike in two ways – move your feet backward, or create the space by moving your stomach and glutes.


Teep kicks are excellent ways to disrupt the attack.


Catching is very risky, but you can try to catch the upper part of his hand with your right hand. But don’t get rocked!


Countering is difficult. You should block the attack and try any technique with your right hand. You can also throw a left uppercut or a left hook to the head. It depends on the arms of your opponent.

The most dangerous counter is a right knee. Spinning back kick can pass easily, just as spinning heel kick. You can test your luck with a left diagonal kick too.

Wrapping it up

Congratulations, you have the basic knowledge of how to fight a southpaw! The successful block is the key to the successful attack. You will learn to use their weapon against them as the time goes by.

Train hard and never give up. The famous sentence practice makes perfect certainly applies here! There is no unbeatable southpaw fighter.

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