Three laws of business: location, location and location! In regard to fighting, positioning makes all the difference to your success! The area where your opponent attacks is where you should not be, and if that isn’t possible you should be looking to restrict his or her options by tactically altering the distance! Often when beginners start sparring the instinct is to move the head as far from the punch as possible; unfortunately when moving back (another beginner trait) instead of creating angles the head moves directly where the punch would have ‘optimal velocity’… Ouch! Get the distance wrong and your opponent will track you like a guided missile.
Getting out of the way is important, but it’s crucial to understand the distance and positioning between you and your opponent!
Counter-intuitively try to “eat the punch” by coming closer, this will balance the power and turn the hunted into the hunter. Think about the velocity of the punch, coming closer diminishes the force. Sure you might get hit, but nowhere near the level of force experienced on the end of the punch. Twist at the hips, while moving forward. Remember evading is not passive! Meaning, it can only be the movement to start your attack. Not only will you be harder to hit with the right placement but you should find yourself in the right position to strike back!
Consider instructor Bob Breen: “There are four basic directions of movement possible. If you always retreat when your opponent attacks, he will factor this in and attack longer and deeper. Do this a couple of times and then, when he’s going to attack, move forward. He has no attack! What you’ll find is that he’s in the launch phase of his attack. There’s no sharp end; no warhead, so to speak.”
Be Aware of your Centre Line and Footwork!
It’s essential that you are aware of the centre line. Remember doing your basics? If you’re not conscious of your centre line while executing your basics, you’ll struggle to hit the target during pad-work and lose track of your footwork during sparring. You can either attack the centre or the edge of your opponent. To maintain control of your centre line, being conscious of your footwork will allow you the positioning to execute your attack accurately and create angles.
Quick tip: If by chance your opponent likes to move erratically. Be efficient. Imagine fighting in a ring, control the centre and coerce your opponent into over exerting himself by constantly moving around the “outside”. Like runners in a race, you’ll lose less energy because you dominate the inner lane; or the centre in this case! He will have two opponents to fight: you and his increasing lack of oxygen!
Don’t neglect your footwork! “The quality of a man’s technique depends on his footwork, for one cannot use his hands or kicks efficiently until his feet have put him in the desired position. If a man is slow on his feet, he will be slow with his punches and kicks. Mobility and speed of footwork precede speed of kicks and punches.” Bruce Lee, Tao of Jeet Kune Do
The fastest way for your opponent to attack you is in a straight line, and that’s key to know. Because with right timing, creating angles or moving in a “curved” fashion will impede attacks and frustrate your opponent. The attack may still come, but the power will be severely reduced and allow you to strike back in a stronger position!
Don’t forget, relax! Often you’ll see people tense up before sparring. Take your time and pay attention to your footwork and form. There’s always something new to learn!