Are You An Orthodox or Southpaw Fighter?

In the first lesson, we talked about your boxing stance and you may have noticed some talk of orthodox and southpaw fighters. Before you go any further, you need to understand the difference and decide which way you will train.


When you were born, or very close after, you started developing a dominant hand. It may even have been wired into you genetically - I don't know and it really doesn't matter. What matters is that you learned to like to use one hand more than the other to do things like hit your brother or sister, write, or grab at things. That favored hand is known as your dominant hand and is the reason people are called right or left handed. Seems trivial, but stick with me.

The majority of the population ended up being right handed while about 7-10% of the world is left handed. Those that are left handed also tend to have a bit of ambidexterity in them - meaning they can use either hand. Don't consider this a hard and fast rule. These are just generalizations, there are also plenty of right handed ambidexterous people out there as well.

Boxers will generally train either orthodox or southpaw. Sometimes, they will do both for reasons I'll cover in a minute. An orthodox boxer is one who has a dominant right hand (right handed people). A southpaw boxer is a boxer with a dominant left hand (left handed people). I'd hazard to guess that close to 95% of the available boxing courses and books you'll find are dedicated to the orthodox boxer - simply because there are naturally a lot more of them.

Here at How to Box, we understand that there aren't just right handed boxers, so we attempt to enlighten the southpaw at the same time as the orthodox boxer. That said, basic techniques are just mirror images. If the right handed boxer stands with left arm forward, the southpaw stands with right arm forward. It's only when you get into boxing strategy, targeting, and so on, that things become specific to the type of stance you use. If you don't see a technique demonstrated specifically for the southpaw, it's not because we're ignoring you, it's because it's the same, just mirrored. If it is specific to the southpaw, it will be clarified.

The concept and theory behind choosing to train orthodox or southpaw is related to what your dominant hand is and which hand you carry the most power in. Those that hit harder and are more coordinated with the right hand should train orthodox. Those carrying their power in the left hand should consider a southpaw stance. For most, the weaker arm should be towards your opponent with the stronger arm cocked to the rear to deliver the power punches when the openings appear.


Is an orthodox boxer better than a southpaw? Or is learning to box southpaw better than learning to box orthodox?

Both stances have their advantages and disadvantages. For instance, the southpaw stands so that their liver is more exposed than an orthodox boxer, but since there are fewer southpaws in the boxing world, a lot of orthodox boxers have no idea how to deal with them when they encounter them in the ring. Because the majority of boxers are orthodox, there are plenty of trainers, training techniques, drills, and strategy to aid in your development, while southpaws have a more difficult time finding a trainer that can cater to their needs (although any good trainer can train both).

Whether you are right handed or left handed, if you adopt your natural stance, you're initially going to find it very awkward. This is because you lead with your non-dominant and weaker arm. Think about it. If you're right handed, you've been hitting, throwing, writing, your entire life with your right hand. The orthodox stance requires you to lead with your left arm and jab with your left arm. Until you get used to it and practice a lot, trying to jab with your left is going to make you think twice about training orthodox. You may think it more natural to switch to southpaw and start jabbing with your right. This is a mistake. Stick to the orthodox stance (or southpaw if you're left handed) and learn the techniques that will suit your natural tendencies.

As you progress, like a lot of boxers, you may decide to learn the alternate stance as well. This is a good idea as it gives you more tools in your tool chest, but remember it is far better to master one stance rather than be mediocre at two. You may confuse your opponent by switching it up mid-fight, but if you can't punch or move in either stance, it's not going to matter all that much.


Now that you understand the difference between an orthodox and a southpaw, you need to decide which way you are going to train. As you move through these lessons, you will imitate the techniques designed for your chosen stance. As I said previously, at this point, you shouldn't be concerned with trying to force your body to do things it isn't used to. If you're right handed and feel as though your right hand has more power than the left, then train orthodox. If you're left handed and feel as though your left hand has more power than your right, train southpaw. If you're ambidexterous with equal amounts of power in both hands - flip a coin.


Try this:

  1. Hit something out of the blue - which hand did you use?
  2. Write something - which hand did you use?
  3. Reach for something - which arm did you use?
  4. Throw something - which hand did you use?
  5. Pick something up - which arm did you use?

The hand/arm you used most often goes to the rear - so if you used your left arm you're a southpaw. If you used your right - you're orthodox.

Now that you know which way you're going to train, tell the rest of us. Go edit your profile and enter your stance where it asks for "Stance".


In this lesson you learned the difference between an orthodox and a southpaw stance. You determined which stance you should train with. You were introduced to some of the differences and vulnerabilities of each stance. If you are new to boxing, then I highly recommend you stick with learning one stance and that one stance should be your most natural stance. Learn the basic techniques, become a master for your chosen stance, and then, and only then, work on implementing the other. Neither stance is completely superior to the other. Southpaws can beat orthodox boxers and vice versa, so no matter which you choose, you are not disadvantaging yourself. It just means taking into account the subtle nuances of that particular stance.

In the next lesson, we're going to go over how to properly form a fist. Last thing you want to do is break your thumb or something else in your hand because you didn't know how to make a fist, where to hit with it, and how to position your wrist. Your boxing career will be short lived and highly unenjoyable. Until then, Boxon.


How can i stop making it feel so awkward using my weaker hand in front?

Practice. There is no shortcut or magic solution - you just need to use that weaker hand until it becomes normal - some will find it easier and faster than others - it all depends on you. The more you use it, the faster you'll get used to it and the less awkward it will feel - eventually.

Why do i stay southpaw when i spar, but, when it comes to a real match i switch alot? is it normal for me to keep switching stances?

From my experience playing soccer my right foot is my strongest kick but I feel very mobile with me left foot... in boxing I feel more mobile with my right foot forward I feel more balanced.. . My right hand is more powerful and dominant but I feel southpaw is for me because of this footwork issue...something to think about

What about right handed S'Paws? People who actually feel better and more natural footwork wise in the S'Paw stance but who are still stronger with their right hands? I ask because I am one ...

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