6 Key Fighting Stances Of Martial Arts (EXPLAINED!)

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Martial arts are interesting because of their variety, they require skill and intelligence, and dedication to learn.

They even improve your health and focus; they teach discipline and many other things. I love martial arts, and I’m passionate about them. 

Of course, one of the main things you learn in martial arts is fighting stances.

A stance is critical because the balance in the body is vital when fighting. Proper form means techniques like punches and kicks hit harder.

It also means that you’re harder to knock off balance. Usually, the solid form makes you safer from attack than you would otherwise (depending on the stance, since there are defensive and offensive fighting styles).

Let’s review and describe some of the martial arts’ best fighting stances.

Boxing stances

I’ll start with one of the most common stances that most normal people would take if they got into a fight on the street: a boxing stance.

There are different variations when it comes to boxing stances.

All of the variations work differently and have different strengths and weaknesses.

Peek-a-Boo, for example, is a more defensive style. In contrast, something like Orthodox is an all-around stance for various situations. 

Something like Southpaw gives the user an advantage because many aren’t used to fighting such an awkwardly battling opponent due to the difference from the left-handed stance.


Boxer using an orthodox fighting stance

Orthodox is arguably one of the most typical stances in boxing. It’s based on placing your left foot first, leaving your right hand further back to deliver your biggest punch.

Orthodox has a few noticeable advantages to it. Training and learning orthodox is easier because it’s popular. Around 90% of boxers fight in the Orthodox stance.

You will learn to deal with opponents who fight the same way, another advantage of focusing on this stance style. It’s possible to learn the basics of this boxing style at home as well.

You’ll develop the prediction and intuition necessary for fighting well.


Finally, the straightforward nature of the stance means it will work well for many people. It’s one of the most essential fighting stances. 


Boxer using a southpaw fighting stance

Southpaw in boxing is a much less common stance than Orthodox.

This is because Southpaw usually relies on being left-handed or left-hand dominant. Only around 1/10 people are born favoring their left hand versus their right.

Southpaw has advantages, such as being awkward to battle in mirror matchups.

Attacks come from strange angles and might be slightly different than what you’re used to.

Southpaw fighters lead with their right foot and sometimes have equal punching power in both hands.

Southpaw fighters can have stronger jabbing overall and generally have an advantage over Orthodox fighters. 

Southpaw is, without a doubt, one of the most troublesome fighting stances to deal with.


Popularized by one of the boxing greats, Mike Tyson, the Peek-a-Boo stance relies on your gloves’ defense by positioning your gloves in front of your face and taking an extremely low defensive stance.

The Peek-a-Boo stance has a few different advantages that stand out about it.

First and foremost is protection. The Peek-a-Boo stance is one of the most defensive boxing stances and can help you avoid taking hits you don’t need to.

But it requires significant skill in predicting strikes and ducking under them.

But it’s not only defensive, believe me. The Peek-a-Boo stance is also powerful because it allows you to jab at the opponent’s face more efficiently.

You can be offensive and defensive simultaneously, and that’s a potent tool.

If these stances are already starting to get confusing, then my recommendation is to find a decent course where you can learn boxing online by expanding your knowledge.

Horse stance (Asian Martial Arts)

Martial artists facing off in a horse stance

Another essential fighting stance would be the Horse stance. This is a fighting stance seen throughout several different Asian martial arts.

It’s not only used in one style of martial arts, either.

Some of the oldest forms of martial arts that actively and regularly use the horse stance include styles like Chaquan and other older Chinese martial arts styles.

The Horse stance is also found in Japan and Korea, not only in China.

Horse stance is used in various types of martial arts, such as Kung Fu, Wushu, and Sumo.

The Horse stance keeps you balanced, grounded, and powerful. It’s great for strength, flexibility, and stability.

The Horse Stance is key for defending yourself from attacks with tons of weight behind them. It’s about lowering your center of gravity and rooting into the ground.

The Horse stance is one of the fundamental fighting stances. It is very beneficial to learn, for both health and self-defense reasons. 

Front stance (Karate)

Karate students performing a front stance punch

The Front stance in karate is another Asian martial arts stance, though it’s found in karate quite a bit specifically and named Zenkutsu Dachi.

The Front stance relies on something similar to an extended lunge and has a specific purpose for high aggression.

The Front stance is meant for an offense. The whole point of the stance is to put as much power as possible behind each hit so that your blows hit hard.

I think the Front stance is strong and reliable, but it’s heavily focused on offense.

If you prefer a more rounded style or if you’re a defensive fighter, there may be better options. It’s a stance that could be easier to be thrown off-balance.

Still, even with that said, the Front stance is a very commonly used fighting stance due to the popularity of karate.

It could be one of the many stances you’d learn if you plan to teach yourself Karate at home, and it’s a good idea to find yourself a suitable online course if you want to learn that way.

The benefits, such as great offense and stronger striking, make it something worth learning.

Muay Thai stance

Our last essential fighting stance is the Muay Thai stance. Muay Thai is a well-known martial art that focuses on striking and clinching. 

Sometimes, this martial art is known as the art of eight limbs due to the use of elbows, shins, and knees.

The Muay Thai stance relies on light feet and agility.

The fighter will either be left or right-handed and Southpaw or Orthodox. The stance is very similar to traditional boxing stances.

The Muay Thai stance is solid and practical because you use brutal blows to dismantle your opponent. It keeps your body light and quick while hitting hard. 

Some moves in Muay Thai are even banned from professional MMA competitions because of their injury risks.

Have you ever felt a Muay Thai leg kick to your thigh or calf muscle? I have and trust me, it hurts like hell.

In my own experiences of a sparring tournament, I took too many kicks to the left leg (and only at 50% power) that I couldn’t walk properly on that leg the next day.

Muay Thai teaches you how to use your limbs as mighty weapons against another person’s body.

Imagine swinging tree trunks at soft muscle tissue. That’s the impact you can make with the stance and moves from this art.

Muay Thai can be combined with other martial arts like Judo to make yourself an extremely effective martial artist on the feet and the ground.

The Muay Thai stance is one of the most essential fighting stances and one of the best ones to learn for physical health benefits, self-defense, discipline, and various other benefits. 

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