*This gets really long. I'm gonna post the whole article here, but if you prefer to read it as an article instead of a series of posts you can just read it here: http://www.bloodyelbow.com/2013/10/7/4812984/positioning-the-key-to-everything-part-1 * Position before submission. Everyone's heard that phrase before and it's a wonderfully apt reference to the core of most grappling arts. Striking, unfortunately, lacks the same type of concise and universally understood slogan. Instead, it has tragically misunderstood cliches such as "work the jab", "move your feet" and "hands up!" Part of that may be a problem with terminology. Position before punches? That obviously just doesn't have the same poetic beauty to it. I've never been good at titles so maybe someone better at words than me can give the essence of this article a nice little catch phrase. In grappling, everyone knows what positioning is. You have the various guards, side mount, mount, back-control, all that good stuff. They are very clear, well-defined positions containing further positions within them. It is generally well-understood who is winning and what each person wants to do from these positions. In striking, positioning is infinitely more subtle and often barely visible. Especially to those who have simply never been taught what to look for. Thus, here is a basic guide to positioning while on the feet that may enhance both your training and viewing experiences of striking sports. Positioning Within One's Stance: The easiest aspect of positioning to grasp initially is that relative to one's own body. Simply put, this is how you stand. There are three main factors to consider when evaluating a stance: weight distribution, elevation and foot position. Weight Distribution: This is usually the easiest thing to see when looking at a stance. It is simply which hip carries the majority of a fighter's weight. It may be concentrated to varying degrees on the lead hip, the rear hip or centered between the two. When looking at weight distribution, it is vital to look at posture as well, since that will be the main determining factor in whether this aspect of positioning is being approached properly. Good posture means the back is straight, the shoulders are not hunched forward or shrugged in any way and all bending is done at the hips and knees. Forward Weight Distrubution: In the above image, you see three fighters using front foot heavy stances for three different reasons. On the left, Pettis stands with his weight loaded onto the front hip. Notice that his back is straight and there is a distinct fold in the front of his body where the leg connects to the torso. He is not bent forward at the spine and his shoulders are not hunched or curled forward. This is a correct utilization of front foot heavy weight distribution. All the way on the right, Weidman's stance is pretty similar. You can see that his head is closest to his lead foot but he is also standing with good posture. Both of these stand in contrast to Munoz, who is hunched forward and in a much worse anatomical position. While his posture isn't terrible, it also isn't ideal so he shows worse positioning than Pettis and Weidman. As mentioned earlier, each fighter uses this weight distribution for distinct reasons, with some overlap. Pettis distributes his weight forward to facilitate the use of his explosive rear leg kicks. By keeping his rear leg light, he is able to fire it with zero warning once his feinting and pawing creates an opening. There is no preparatory motion for his kicks; they are always free to smash the opponent. Munoz stands with his weight forward to wrestle, plain and simple. He is far from a technical striker and his best chance is always to win with his brutal strikes from the ground. As a result, he positions himself so that his wrestling is always supported by his stance. Weidman also keeps his weight forward as a result of his wrestling background but he actually uses it to enhance his striking. With the weight forward, he is free to throw kicks like Pettis, which was a huge part of his victory against Munoz. His main use for this stance though is the left hook, which is made very powerful by this weight distribution and has become a dangerous weapon for him. Put simply, the advantages of a front foot heavy stance are: 1. Wrestling. The fighter can push forward quickly and explosively off that lead leg to shoot or move forward quickly. With the weight forward, shooting is essentially as simple as bending the knees and stepping forward with significantly less movement needed than from a different stance. The fighter is also more ready to sprawl and keep the hips away from the opponent. Munoz and Weidman exemplify this. 2. Strikes from the lead hand: By loading the lead hip, one is naturally increasing the power of all strikes coming from that side. Hard lead hand strikes (in general for simplicity, this isn't always true) require the weight to be transferred from the front hip to the rear hip as they are thrown. By standing with the weight already forward, a fighter is always ready to unload powerful punches from that side, such as Weidman's left hook. 3. Kicks from the rear leg: These come much faster if the weight is already on the supporting leg. This is a huge reason why a classic "Muay Thai stance" is typically considered one where much of the weight is kept forward. This advantage is a huge part of Pettis' success as the best kicker in MMA. 4. Forward movement: It is generally easier to move forward quickly with the weight on the front foot. Think of a sprinter on the starting block. Consequently, the only fighter from the examples above who is competent at fighting when being moved backwards is Pettis, as discussed in my article analyzing him (http://www.bloodyelbow.com/2013/9/8/4708300/the-genius-of-anthony-pettis). 5. Pull back counters: the head is a very appealing target in this type of stance. As a result, it is possible to bait punches and pull the weight back as you counter, which relates to the increased power of lead hand strikes mentioned above. Thus, you move your head out of range while throwing a powerful counter that the opponent is likely leaning into. Disadvantages: 1. Striking defense: Putting your head closer to the opponent decreases the amount of time you have to react to strikes. It also makes you more vulnerable to upwards strikes such as the now infamous front kicks and the still underutilized uppercuts, especially if your posture is not excellent. Leg kicks become harder to check and defense overall tends to become more reactive.To mitigate this weakness, fighters often rely on ducking to use their wrestling or worse, using what Connor calls a "universal defense" (http://www.bloodyelbow.com/2013/8/2...hogun-sonnen-technique-recap-judo-chop-ko-gif). 2. Rear hand punches: A huge problem that fighters who stand with their weight forward tend to encounter is losing their balance and posture when trying to throw the rear hand. Since rear hand punches require the weight to transfer forward at some point during execution (though not as far as most believe), fighters who already have their weight forward tend to compensate for the lack of power in the hips by leaning forward more, bending at the spine and punching with the shoulders and upper body instead of the legs. Pettis and Weidman are actually very good at avoiding this pitfall in most cases, but Munoz got knocked out by Weidman specifically because of it. 3. Lead leg kicks: Kicks from the lead leg come much slower from this stance. Even a fast kick such as a teep requires the fighter to transfer weight to the supporting (rear) leg before throwing it. While this can be done relatively easily with a small step or even a slipping motion, it is often much easier to see when not disguised by punches. For that reason, Pettis kicks almost exclusively with whichever leg he keeps in the rear, despite the fact that he switches stances depending on the opponent and can kick with either leg.