When you practise before an upcoming competition or to be able to use your techniques in fighting, you should work with the concept of “five stages”.
From long distance fighting, (where you kick ) to long strikes and hooks, further on to close infighting (elbows, head butts etc) on to throws and sweeps, and finally to the ground to finish the fight.
The competition-systems gives the competitor a wide multitude of techniques to use; techniques that you may not have chosen in a real fight.
Always check beforehand what rules apply to your chosen contest, so that you are perfectly clear on what you can or cannot do.
You don’t have to participate in the worst ”rough-and tumble” contests to notice that size and strength are of great importance. It’s usually enough with facing your normal training buddy who is on level with yourself in his martial arts education, to realise one’s own limitations as a fighter.
Fighting also shows that belt colors have little meaning here. Yes, a vast knowledge might be an advantage, but it is usually better to know a limited number of techniques, and to know them very well!
When fighting, one has to avoid wasting one’s strength in a rush of kicks and strikes that makes you tired after half a minute! Be tactical, and remember “Can’t touch me!”. The idea is to avoid being hit.
First, start to study your opponent. Move around him, maybe block his strikes, to find out his reach, how he moves, what “telegraphing moves” he displays. Let him waste his energy while you are learning. Then start decisively with a feint that clearly says that you intend to win!
Only use an offensive technique when you judge the conditions to be favourable. If the technique fails, try to counter immediately.
Easier said than done…
It is all about learning how to control the game. When you have received the necessary information about your opponent, you have already begun to steer the contest by letting him work himself tired on purpose. He has wasted energy while you have conserved yours, and in the meantime you have gathered vital information about your opponent. You know about what leg he leads with, a little about what style he has trained in etc.
Now is the time to go on the offensive, and there are of course different ways to do that. But if you shall be able to ”hit without being hit”, then you must put the information that you previously gathered to good use.
To “control” the opponent, you might for instance strike towards his lower abdomen in order to make him lower his guard, then follow up with a quick blow to the head. Another way may include a lowering (or a raise, like a classical Thaifighter) of your own guard, inviting the opponent to strike at exposed body parts.
In this way you trick the opponent to do things that you are prepared for, and again you are in control of the contest.
Try not to feel the pressure of ”I have to take some points now! He’s way ahead on points!” in a contest or fighting round. It’s better to take it easy and try to make one decisive move at the right time. A throw and a headlock where the opponent has to “tap the mat” might win the whole game for you.
Amateurs usually just improvise during fighting, hoping for the best. When you engage an opponent, whether in fighting or in a contest, you should already have the game planned in your head. You know what you are going to do, what feint you will open with, and what throw or strike or lock you will finish with.
Remember, practice makes perfect!
Fighting is more important than competing!
Let’s start with a few jabbing-feints (Note: I will in the following assume that you are standing with your right side towards you opponent!).
- First, strike “half a punch” (a jab) with your right fist , then immediately a straight penetrating strike with the same fist.
- First, “half a hook” with your left fist, then a heavy blow with your right fist, for instance a hook or a straight punch.
- Jab at the abdomen with your frontal hand, then strike hard at the head with the same hand.
- Jab at the head with your frontal hand, then strike hard at the abdomen with the same hand.
- Just “whip” your left hand sideways to get the opponent’s attention, then follow up with a straight right fist punch.
That was just a couple of examples. There are of course a multitude of combinations, but practise these while you construct your own.
A few examples of kicking feints
- Start with a very obvious back leg roundhouse kick (keep the knee high), and when the opponent raises his leg to block, whip out your leg in a straight frontal kick to the groin, the abdomen or the opponent’s supporting leg.
- “Twitch” your back leg like you would start a roundhouse kick, then immediately a frontal kick with the frontal leg.
- Perform a low roundhouse kick at your opponent’s knee. When he blocks with his leg, raise your knee and kick high instead. Works beautifully in contests!
- Kick low at his legs, at the same time strike a frontal straight punch at his head.
- Start a roundhouse kick with your back leg, then make a jumping roundhouse kick with the frontal leg instead!
Sometimes your opponents won’t “buy” your elegantly performed feints!
Change then to simple, straightforward attacks instead!
That was the feints which are great to start practising. Now it’s your turn to start putting together your own combinations! Begin by practising the techniques of this fighting style one at the time. Then, be creative!
The main idea is to meet power and audacity with “smarts” and technique, and to make the most of your opponent’s mistakes!
Combined techniques in attacks
- Start with a straight punch, followed by a low frontal kick.
- Start with a straight punch, then a roundhouse kick to the ribs.
- Start with a straight punch, then a roundhouse kick to the outer part of the knee.
- Start with a straight punch, then a roundhouse kick to the outer part of the knee and follow up with a roundhouse kick to the head.
- Start with double straight punch, then a roundhouse kick to the ribs.
- Start with double straight punch, followed by knee.
- Start with double straight punch, followed by double knee.
- Against straight punch = duck back, and when he moves his arm back, follow up with a straight punch with opposite hand.
- Against frontal throw = sit back and make “the counter-throw”.
Examples of good technique series
- Against hook = double block on the inside, your closest hand on his neck, pull towards yourself, meet up with a knee.
- Against straight punch = perform simple boxer’s block, grab his neck and pull, follow up with a knee
- Against roundhouse kick = one step towards him, push him back, use a leg sweep.
- Against frontal kick = block with a sweeping hook on the outside, perform a shin sweep from the back at his supporting leg.
When practising fighting and in particular fighting in competitions, it is crucial to know some strategies in advance. By practising strategies you can more easily adapt a new strategy depending on the opponent’s style, size and way of fighting. Strategies are also a way of preparing for the unexpected. If you are in the ring and you realise that your opponent is a very good boxer you can more easily take away his most dangerous weapon (the hands) by applying a strategy that enables long distance fighting.
Before practising strategies it is important that the practitioner has a basic understanding of the different fighting distances; Long-range, short-range and in-fighting.
The training should be in the form of light sparring starting with long range, moving to short range, then infighting (clinch) and finally all around sparring.
Once you are to fight make sure you have strategies and back-up strategies for your fight, tailored to your opponent. It is also the trainer’s job to give his student instructions at every new round (in the ring corner) with strategies or to yell out a strategy (or a codeword for a strategy) that the student can apply in order to gain a competitive edge and advantage.
By practising distance and strategies together it is easier to get a feeling for which strategy should be used at what distance.
Below are some of the most common strategies.
King of the ring
The aim of this strategy is to control the ring and your opponent by keeping him far from you but still at a disadvantageous position. It is crucial that you are in the centre of the ring and your opponent is moving around, making himself tired, but it is also a good way of showing the judges that you are in charge of the fight. The way to carry out “King of the ring” is to only use your “stop-kick” with your forward leg, to keep away the opponent but also actively working with your jab to keep him on a distance. If the opponent however moves in closer to you, you will in the correct order use the right cross followed by the techniques in the different fighting ranges. All these techniques are in long-range. However if the opponent manages to move further in you continue by using short range techniques and finally knees and other infighting techniques if the opponent reaches that close to you. This is a very useful strategy if you are taller than your opponent. It is important however to try and not to let the opponent past your long range techniques.
Drive derives from the metaphor of driving a car. As a fighter you are assumed to drive through your opponent. That means that you move forward aggressively in one direction forcing your opponent to back off and receive hits. In all drives it is crucial that you get a momentum in your movement which you can capitalise upon so that you move forward and through your opponent.
There are three different types of driving:
Skip and drive
In order to get momentum you skip back with your front leg and shin-kick the opponent with the same leg. This could be followed by a jab and cross and then a mix of striking series depending on your preference. Notable however is that it is the initial skipping step which is crucial to gaining a momentum in your movement forward.
Step and drive
When we want to throw a powerful jab, we usually raise our foot and take a small step forward and throw out the jab just after we have landed the foot. This strategy uses the same technique to start off the drive. And the jab could then be followed up by a series of strikes and kicks.
Across the body drive
When driving across the body we make sure to kick the opponent across the body with either the left leg or the right leg, followed by the other which in turn is followed by strikes and more punches. So basically what we are doing is to fight across the body of the opponent by moving our weight from one leg to another after each hit but also slightly forward so that the target is backing off.
The word raid derives from the Nordic Vikings who went into cities and villages and raided everything and then took off. What it means in fighting strategies is that we use any of the above drives to move into the opponent, and then we angle off when we have finished our techniques in order to avoid any potential counter attack. It also gives us a time to look and see how the opponent is feeling. If he is groggy, obviously that is a perfect moment to further move in again and finish the fight. However if the opponent looks or feels unmoved by the drive it could be an idea to back off and regain strength.
Evading means that you move away from your opponent’s attack, so that it does not hit you. You evade straight punches by moving your head sidewards. You evade roundhouse kicks by leaning backwards. A type of evading practise is “can’t touch me” as described in earlier chapters. Most evades are followed by a counter which is described below.
Counter fighting is pretty much what the name indicates. As your opponent hits you, you respond the attack with an attack. Regardless of how or where he hits you, you respond with an attack of your own choice. Apart from evading and countering you can block and counter and in some cases you take a punch in order to deliver a knocking blow.
You shoot yourself in towards the opponent to take him down in best possible way. Which will open up for a ground fighting position where you are able to take out your opponent through strangulation or arm lock.
Two final words of advice
- No fight is over and determined until it is over and determined!
- Do not try to look “flashy”! Results (a.k.a “winning”) is more important than looks!