Mothers and fathers often complain to me about their son’s/daughter’s lack of coordination and difficulty being a left-hander or “southpaw” in our classes. I always comfort them by explaining that it is not a disadvantage, and maybe even an advantage. I tell them I am a left-hander as well, which is true. For me, it has been an advantage for the whole of my martial arts career. Is it an
advantage or disadvantage? Let’s explore it from both sides.
Right-handers will have a hard time fighting you. Plain and simple, most fighters lack experience against lefties, since they are such a small percentage of the population. You will be coming at them from unusual angles, which they are not used to seeing. You, on the other hand, will be used to fighting right-handers as you spar against them all the time.
You will become ambidextrous fast because you are usually doing the moves right-handed. Left handed people learn to do things with their right hand due to them being in a right handed world so they have almost equal strength in both hands. In most martial arts classes the whole group practices in the right-handed stance. There will be instances when they switch it over to the other side.
It will take you longer to learn things since in many cases the movements are not as natural. You will develop power and speed in your weak hand though, with repetition.
People often don’t know how to hold pads during training for lefties, and in some gyms they will force you to be a right-hander. I would switch gyms if that is the case.
Train on both sides. This will develop speed, power and coordination in your weak side. But against other fighters favour your left-handed stance as it will give right-handers fits.
Keep in mind, if he is a left-hander fighting in an orthodox stance, his jab and his front leg kicks will usually be better than the right-handers in the class. In fact, Bruce Lee, a natural right-hander, fought in a southpaw stance so he could have his power hand and foot closer to his opponent. This is especially true in point sparring, as your front hand and foot will score the vast majority of your points.
Some great left-handed martial artists
Lastly, the following great boxers/martial artists were left-handed, so that should tell you something:
Marvin Hagler (boxing)
Oscar de la Hoya (boxing)
Manny Pacquiao (boxing)
Chael Sonnen (MMA)
Rich Franklin (MMA)
Nick Diaz (MMA)
Lyoto Machida (MMA)
Vitor Belfort (MMA)
Anderson Silva (MMA)
Yushin Okami (MMA)
Takanori Gomi (MMA)
Mirko Cro Cop (MMA and K1 Kickboxing)
Note, some of these guys were born lefties and some are “deliberate southpaws.” They taught themselves to fight as southpaws because they found it to be an advantage to their fighting careers. Others may fight in a southpaw stance to have better jabs and hooks, which are thrown off the front hand.
Any other lefties out there in the martial arts? What is your experience?