How useful is it? In what situation would I use it? And what can I do to break the habbit of going straight back when someone's coming at me?
I'll preface this by saying that I'm not a competitive fighter, but I'd say it's extremely useful. Any time you can throw an angle at your opponent it's better than simply retreating. This is because it can be thought of as sort of a "counter-in-waiting"...it affords you an opportunity to take advantage of any slip-up in your opponent better than simply going straight backwards.
Let's say as an example there's an opponent backing you up, and he throws a right cross. If you back straight up you are still in his crosshairs. Sure the punch misses you, but he's still got all his weapons available to him. Now lets say when he throws the punch you back and cut to your left. In the instant before he recovers, you can see that he basically has no "weapons" available to hit you with---they're all pointed at where you were, not you now. This and the fact that it will take him a split second to turn and face you help you out in a fight. It's not advisable to swing across your body as you know, no power there, and it takes a split moment longer to recover from than just recoiling your fist.
Are you talking about finishing a double leg or striking off angles?
I've never really heard that term before. What exactly does it mean?
I think he's talking about cutting off the ring...controlling the ring,etc.
Cutting of the ring is one of the most important skills to learn....after all,you want to be able to hit your opponent,right? This is all about footwork. We already know how important footwork is. If you're just constantly circling,you're going to spend all your energy trying to chase the guy...and frustrate yourself because you can't get off any kind of attacks that are worth anything. That's when you start reaching with bad technique and making yourself vulnerable to counter attacks.
Picture a circle with a dot in the middle...you being the dot. Your opponent is forming the line circling around the dot. You're trying to reach him. Think about the fastest path from point A to point B being a straight line. Your movement is going to be a straight line....but that straight line could be laterally...diagonal..etc. So your opponent keeps circling....let him. Remember,that you represent the center of the ring. Say he's circling to stay on your outside shoulder....circle a little bit with him to bait him...and bam immediately shift LATERALLY to your left to "cut off corner."
If this exact scenario does happen....try throwing a jab as you're shifting to your left and follow with right middle kick or low kick. OR a straight right to left kick. Play with this when moving to your right as well. Learn to shuffle-step from moving left to going back to your right and vice-versa...BUT keep in mind that this is Muay Thai/MMA and not boxing...don't get caught in off-balance posture.
Now for this moving backwards non-sense....I hope you're not putting your head down when do this. Keep your chin down and defenses up to par...relax...JAB...JAB...JAB to infinity. JAB as you circle out to give yourself some space. Don't stand there and try to jab...move your damn feet. Re-establish control of ring space. Attack from the angles that he has given you. If he's still on your ass....engage him and clinch him up. I see guys all the time who are getting overwhelmed and would rather eat shots with their head down...learn to properly initiate clinch.
Also,try..well,not try....YOU MUST...concentrate on your footwork more through shadowboxing and skipping rope. Get proficient at moving laterally/diagonally...learn to throw jabs...straight rights...jab/straight combos while moving laterally. Lead hooks are handy for catching guys circling as well.
Keep all of this stuff in mind....I'm sure others can add to this or maybe even explain it better than me. I'm no Xen,but I hope this helps you out some.
Sorry I was speaking of cutting the corner as it pertains to muay thai/boxing... more muay thai.
Thanks for the advice. I don't lower the head when I back up. But I still don't like just backing up as I take volley after volley of hits. Sometimes I plant the feet and body check (bad habbit from hockey) and I know I'm not doing things right, just didn't know what to do instead. I saw a boxing training video about cutting the corner and I wondered how it worked, and why I don't see it used in MMA. What you're saying makes sense and I'll start working on using angles, and clenching more. We don't throw knees in the gym because too many people would get hurt, but I see how it negates what they can throw, and allows me to control the situation.
I suck at jump rope, and will work on it.
Thanks for the advice.
If you're not clinching, retreating at an angle instead of straight out can really reduce the number of volleys you take without a break in addition to giving you an attack angle to put him on the defensive.