Article:    Southpaw=JKD basics

For the last three weeks we’ve been working on changing leads and on understanding the southpaw or unmatched lead where you are in the right stance and your opponent in the left. Bruce Lee’s JKD was in many respects just a southpaw style. As I remember too well, most of the fighters back then were Karate and Taekwondo fighters so favoured hard hits from the rear leg or hand.

Being in a southpaw lead you’ve go all the advantages of the closer tool set, and as Bruce put it your strongest tool to the front and his strongest far away on the other side of his body. Bruce of course added to this advantage with hard training a quick mind and devastating timing. Plus he was playing out of the box, not conforming like the others he fought. It was great being there and fighting in that time as you understand the mindset of fighters at that time. Of course if he’s also in a southpaw lead then you’re back to matched leads.

So far we’ve studied how to counter this JKD setup and also methods to change stance. Many of the traditional styles like karate and silat and kung fu work both stances both for the wholeness of combat and also as its good for the body. However all the Filipino masters I trained with who did lots of fighting didn’t seem to change stance. It’s an 80/20 thing you’re never going to be equally good in both leads. Have your main stance and then a restricted game in the other side. In real combat you’ll have to fight opponents coming form all sides so it pays to have some game on both leads.

There are a number of ways to change lead. Firstly we change at distance just like the circling the pad drill we do for beginners. You retreat a little and then circle the other way hiding behind your jab. This is highly effective. Second is to kick and step through or just step through much like Oi-tsuki in Karate. I remember seeing Oishi do this in the 69 all Japan championships and he smashed everyone. In Kali you can crash through with a stance change hiding behind your elbow or by manipulating his head off line or just extend your cross by stepping through. As you’re hitting or crashing it’s very hard for them to counter. My friend Andy Norman has utilized this Kali concept a lot in his Keysi style. Once your in unmatched leads there’s a limited amount of options but there are certain rules. Keep your foot outside his if possible and keep your hand higher than his. Then you’ve got leverage advantages and dominate his hand. Simple beats on the lead hand or jerks (jut sao) give you a host of options from hook kicks to simple hand traps. Kicks and punches from the rear are easily countered and this is a great place to throw if you attempts to round kick you. We’ll be working on this for a further three weeks then rotate onto something else and come back to it later. The thing is to mix and match training methods from all the arts and pick the best. You just have to understand the conceptual framework. Good training.