Time is relative
For the attacker, it seems like a minute between the beginning and end of an attack. However, for the defender, it seems only an instant.
- Where the head goes, the body will follow. So use all the available handles to your benefit, such as ears, hair, piercing, etc.
- If you lose your head, you lose the fight. If you lose it emotionally, you will lose the fight. If you lose it due to injury, you will lose the fight.
- Keep your mouth shut. Thinking about talking means you are not thinking about fighting. Also, it prevents biting your tongue.
- Keep your eyes open, even if it means watching the punch hit you.
- For a midsection kick, trap it or spike it with your elbow.
- In a clinch, keep your gloves over the opponent's face so he or she has difficulty breathing.
- In a clinch or on the mat, dig your chin to dig into your opponent's face or body. A few days growth of beard makes the dig more effective. The growth also helps attacks slide off the face.
- In a clinch or on the mat, keep the forearm across and rubbing on the opponent's face.
- While being clinched, hook kick to the side and back around the opponent, digging the heel into the back of the head or neck.
- Throw a hook punch, but hit with the bony part of the wrist rather than the fist, since this area is not protected by gloves.
- It is usually illegal to punch or kick an opponent who is down, so get the hits in quickly before the opponent get to the mat.
Winning means knowing when to attack and seize the initiative. Opponents are vulnerable to a successful attack when:
- They are thinking of attacking. This is the best time to take control. This is the time to suppress the opponent's desire to engage in a fight. This may be achieved by displaying superior skills and humble confidence.
- They decide to attack. At this moment, the opponent's mind is preoccupied in sending orders to the muscles.
- They begin the attack. This is the realm of the counter fighter. While the opponent is attacking, he or she is thinking about defending.
Do not just throw techniques haphazardly. Use the combinations you practice in class. Use a combination once or twice, then use it again but change the last technique. Many fighters repeat certain combinations, so look for them, and use counters to score when they are used. Try using several hard body techniques then fake to the body followed by an immediate kick to the head. Look for openings when they occur or make openings. The best fighters dance around, make quick combination attacks, counter any attack, and look for telegraphing movements or openings and react instinctually.
If you cannot avoid, then block
It is usually more desirable to avoid a kick than to block it. If you must block, you are definitely in your opponent's kicking range.
- If you block a kick, make sure it stays blocked.
- Block with power so the kicker feels the block. People tend to avoid pain so if you make kicking painful for your opponent, it will probably discourage kicks.
- If you are effective at avoiding and blocking, you may frustrate your opponent and cause openings for you own attacks
Do not show weakness
Do not act frustrated, injured, or get angry. It gives your opponent confidence and may cause the judges to give him or her the "superiority" point.
Anticipation is dangerous; it has much to do with guesswork. You are trying to presume or guess what an opponent will do. You may get it right and a pre-planned attack could work, but you could just as easily get it wrong. Anticipation is not mindset. It is not about what is happening "here and now."
Perception is not just about visual assessment and guesswork. With perception, we feel as well as see. It allows us to do as little as possible or cut out unnecessary movement. If our perception is good, it will always be right. Perception is seeing, feeling in the "here and now."
One of the biggest errors of novice fighters is to get close to an opponent and then wait for an attack, try to read it, block it, and then counter. This approach only works with novice opponents. Experienced fighters attack with combinations so even if your block and counter works, you will still get hit by numerous other attacks.
Do not whine
If you are merely in pain, deal with it and keep fighting. Do not show pain to opponents. It gives them confidence and shows them where to strike next. It also lets the judges know your opponent got in with the technique. If you are injured, it up to you and your instructor/coach as to whether you should continue. For an obvious injury, the referee may make the decision for you. You do not see animals whining during a fight, they finish the fight and lick their wounds once it is over.
Stick to basics unless you are overwhelmingly better than the opponent. Tournament sparring is not the place to impress spectators with your expertise. Your only goal is to score more points on your opponents than they may score on you.
In Olympic style sparring, you must have power. If you do not have power, then you might as well forget about scoring. You have to strike your opponent with enough force to "move" them. Without power, you cannot score even with a technique that makes contact. To conserve energy, save kicks for the ones you want to score with. Add power to kicks by pivoting and using the hips. Do not stop kicks at the chest protector. This will probably make a loud sound but it will not score a point, since it is not a "shuttering" blow. Kick through your opponent.
Do not try to hit "hard" when you punch. You will tense your shoulders and back, and exhaust yourself quickly. Hit with relaxed speed using body snap. People who hit with tension tend to punch with just their arms, which do not have much mass. Use the entire body to punch. Tense fighters also tend to telegraph their punches.
In Olympic style sparring, you must move your opponent to score a point. The head is easier to move than the body, so head kicks are more effective than body kicks. They are also more noticeable to the corner judges. However, your kicks must be controlled and the contact has to be light or you might be penalized, especially if you are a color belt. In no-contact sparring, you receive more points for kicks to the head but you must exercise good control since excessive contract will result in a penalty.
In Olympic style sparring, do not so caught up in whether or not you get touched that you miss opportunities. Take a weak shot to the abdomen and counter with a knockout shot to the head. Never throw weak shots yourself.
Fighters get excited and nervous and hold their breath. It is important to maintain breathing and breath control to remain relaxed and in control of the match. One excellent way to do this is to kiai frequently and loudly. It forces you to take deep breaths, demonstrates a fighting spirit, and may demoralize an opponent.
Just as in other sports, such as golf and baseball, you must continue with the motion after contact (point) is made. Do not stop attacking after you score a point. You may think you scored an obvious point, but the judges may not have seen it, so keep attacking until told to stop. Likewise, when you are scored upon, do not stop your action; instead, quickly respond with counterattacks. The judges may not have had a clear view of the technique, but if you react as if it was a point, they may call it a point for the opponent.
Many fighters new to tournament competition focus on abdomen targets too much. First, because it is a low, many times exposed target, and then, since they are unsure of their control, they do not want to excessively strike the head. Also, many junior belts who try to go to the head too early in competition are too restrained for fear of hitting their opponent. The abdomen is always a good target, but do not get caught up in the competition and let it become your primary target in all situations. Learn to attack all legal targets.
Ensure physical (power), breath, and mental (kiai) focus with each attack to instill fear in the opponent by showing a commitment “to kill with one blow.” Since there is no formal warm up before competition, this also ensures that adrenalin be released for power and endurance.
Know opponent's style
Do your homework. Know your opponent’s style, strengths, favorite techniques, and weaknesses. Your strategy should be to become proficient in all areas so you will be prepared to act instinctively to the opponent’s favorite techniques. Your size compared to the opponent will be an important factor in your choice of offensive and defensive actions.
If hand techniques to the head are not permitted, aim for the front of the shoulders since the center of the chest is usually well guarded.
Do not telegraph
When fighters stand relatively still in the ring before they attack, they telegraph the attack. When fighters, without changing the rhythm or tempo of their movement, initiate their attack on cue with the beat they have established, they do not telegraph the attack. Attacks should be similar to way a fencer quickly and non-telegraphically closes the distance on the opponent. The attack should take the shortest route to the target without any preparatory or telegraphic, set-up movements. As Bruce Lee said, "Use the longest weapon to the nearest target!"
Do not concentrate on techniques or combinations
If you are thinking about a technique or combination to use, it may be wrong one to use by the time you use it. Instead, concentrate on reading the opponent, watching for openings, and creating openings. When an opening appears, fire your nearest weapon into the opening and follow up with combinations that are appropriate against the opponent's blocks. Trying random techniques and combinations are a waste of time and energy unless there is an opening for them to score.
Do not think. During the fight, do not try to analyze your performance. Analyze your performance during the breaks between rounds (with your coach if permitted) and then put it into practice.
Most fighting stances are too exposed. They are either facing to the front so you may fire with both guns or they are tucked away where it is difficult to use rear hand or leg techniques. When you give too much front exposure, the trade-off for being able to throw more angles is that you are more open to being hit. On the other hand, when you are too closed off, it is just a short step for your opponent to get around the outside of your lead foot, leaving you exposed. The solution is a compromise. Draw a line from your rear heel through your lead big toe to the opponent's centerline (as in a back stance). Now you are in a position where with a small adjustment you may open up and fire away, or, with a small adjustment, you may close up.
Concentrate on few kicks
There are countless kicks and combinations in Taekwondo but you only need few of them to be successful in tournaments, such as the basic front, side, round house, hook, and axe kicks. They are simple and more effective and efficient than other more "aesthetic" kicks, such as butterfly, tornado, 540 side, etc. The most frequently used kicks are the roundhouse (most used), back, and axe. Side kicks are used mostly by traditional fighters, but successful competitors may effectively counter these kicks. Kicks to the torso score points more frequently than kicks to the head score. Spin kicks are the least likely to score.
Do not get into foot fight with an opponent. A foot fight is similar to a sword fight where swords are swinging around banging into each other with no injury to either fighter. In a foot fight, both fighters are trading kicks, wasting energy, and getting nowhere. Only kick when you see an opening, not in response to an opponent's kick.
To pick your pocket, a pickpocket will bump into you hard enough that you feel a slight pain and are distracted enough that you do not notice that the pickpocket has picked your pocket. Therefore, to distract and confuse your sparring opponent, use a painful but quick less effective attack to one area while striking to another area with the finishing blow. A hard block to an opponent's attack may also distract enough so a finishing blow may be delivered.
Do not step into an incoming attack
Do not mistakenly step into an attack. It hurts. You may step inside or outside an attack if you have an effective counterattack planned.
Fakes and combinations
Use fakes to set up other attacks but make the fake realistic enough that the opponent must react to it. In fact, if the opponent does not react, the fake should be effective enough that it may score. Always attack in combinations of kicks and punches, high and low, left and right, up and down. Always keep you opponent off-guard and confused. Fakes should be used sparsely and only when there is an intention to attack.
Fakes that do not work
Do not be concerned if most fakes do not work. Smart fighters move when you move. If you fake one technique to set up another, they will attack over your fake, catching you off guard. Or, when you fake, they may shuffle back extending the range so they are not there for your follow-up technique.
Be aggressive from the first moment
Do not wait to feel out your opponent, come out fighting and keep the pressure on. In the event of a tie, the first criteria for determining a winner is "Which one of the fighters demonstrated technical dominance?"
Use your footwork to prevent your opponent for using his or her specialty attacks. Moving into your technique from a stationary position allows your opponent to predict your movement. If you are moving, you may move smoothly into your technique without losing any valuable time. Therefore, it is important to develop footwork that works for you. Footwork requires strong leg muscles and stability.
Never miss an opportunity to take advantage of your opponent's error. Maintain constant vigilance for mistakes. Even a well-trained opponent makes one or two mistakes in a match. If you create a situation that makes your opponent blunder, it is even better. As related to opportunity, use a Take—Wait—Create strategy. Take an existing opportunity, wait for one to appear, or create one.
Endurance is paramount. A highly conditioned fighter with lesser fighting skills may defeat a more skilled fighter that has poor endurance by over powering him or her with a multitude of techniques until he or she is exhausted and unable to block effectively or mount an attack. It is common to see participants who start aggressively and then tire during the last half of the match. You must have enough stamina to move with full power during the entire match.
Time is important. You must end the fight as quickly as possible. Every technique must be executed smoothly and quickly. In a self-defense situation, if you are fighting more than one opponent, you must finish each one very quickly.
Do not stop to admire your work
This happens when you focus on what your just did. A lapse in concentration, even for a slit second, may cost you a win. Do not pause to admire your work or wonder why your last technique did not score. Develop a mindset that your task is to win, setbacks during the quest are not important, just focus on winning. Keep sparring until the referee calls break.
Be friendly but aloof before your match
Do not give away your strategy and do not let other fighters "psyche you out" before you even enter the ring. The most dangerous fighters are those that sit by themselves and mentally compose themselves before the fight. In general, the fighters who brag about their wins in the last tournament do not make it to the finals. Do not allow yourself to be "psyched out" by the guy in the corner kicking the hand target paddle hard and fast. There is a big difference between hitting a paddle and being a good fighter
- Do not judge an opponent's ability by his or her appearance. You may be in for a rude wakening.
- Every time you get hit, you learn something, even when you accidentally hit yourself.
- The stronger you are, the harder you will hit. The bigger you are, within limits, the harder you will hit.
Do not be distracted by extraneous movements
The primary movement that should concern you is movement toward you, since it decreases range and may be an attack. Secondary is movement away from you, since it increases range and may affect your attacks.
Taekwondo is known as a kicking art, but it is actually a kick/punch art. Blazingly fast hands can score, intimidate, and set up kicks. Half the observed speed of a punch is not related to motion, but to the absence of motion. A punch may occur with no warning, pre-movement, or telegraphing.
Memorized combinations versus free-form
When sparring, you may use memorized attacking combinations or you may just go with the flow. If you practice a few attack combinations until they occur spontaneously, they may be effective against many different types of opponents. If you learn to "read" your opponent and react accordingly, you will become a much better fighter.
When within range, if you move so that the opponent loses the ability to use one or both of his or her arms or legs freely, it is called disconnection. If the opponent's weapons are disconnected, you are free to score with less chance of being scored upon. For example, if you constantly move toward your opponent's weak side, your opponent must constantly turn to keep properly guarded. The opponent's front foot constantly has to be picked up and moved while pivoting on the rear foot. This movement disconnects the opponent's rear foot and partially disconnects the front foot. If you coordinate your movements properly, all your weapons will be free to attack.
Always keep your balance. Never allow yourself to get into an off balance situation. All blocks and attacks are ineffective if you are off balance. Always keep feet at least a shoulder width apart. We are earth bound beings, so keep both feet on the ground as much as possible. We cannot fly, so do not take to the air except for the finishing touch to an injured, ineffective opponent.
- Balance is critical for power and speed.
- Must keep proper body alignment.
- Keep weight centered between feet.
- Keep heels light on ground, with rear heel slightly raised.
- Keep knees bent at all times.
- Keep center of gravity steady.
- Do not over-commit balance into an attack.
- Balance comes from subtle body movements, do not use arms for balance, they are for protection and attack.
- Do not have too wide a base; it is too slow.
- Make a sharp exhale during the technique with a momentary stopping of breath at impact. Inhaling tends to relax muscles, while exhaling contracts them.
- Do not hold breath during a technique.
- Do not inhale during a technique. It impedes movement and results in a loss of power.
- Breath through abdomen, it keeps the center of gravity low.
- Use disguised breathing. Disguised breathing is a psychological strategy used to conceal signs of fatigue or to feign fatigue to deceive an opponent into attacking too soon.
- Be aware of the opponent’s breathing, watch for habits such as taking in a short quick breath before attacking and try to attack when the opponent is inhaling
- Breathe deeply, fully, and slowly in through your nose and out through your mouth to help you remain calm and help you focus your attack.
Empty the mind
Be natural, instinctive, and detached from intellectual processes and free of distracting thoughts. Maintain full alertness at all times, concentrate the mind, and show no weakness under stress. Free-sparing is not only a physical battle, it is also a psychological duel between two opponents.
When the match begins, be ready to abort any strategy you have in mind in favor of an instinctive response. Avoid being too rigid, have a flexible and receptive mind and be patient to see what happens. When the opportunity arises, react without hesitation and with conviction. If you are defeated, you have no cause for regret. If successful, remain calm and prepare yourself for the next round.
A good kicker is hard to score on with kicks and a good puncher seldom loses by being out punched. This is because each fighter has a deep understanding of his specialty and, therefore, knows all the tricks that may be used against him or her. For example, after having practiced thousands of repetitions of, say a back fist, a puncher knows what an opponent looks like when he or she is setting up to attack with a back fist. Whatever your specialty, you should train hard to develop every facet of it.
Mental preparation prior to competing is a vital link between the physical and the psychological side of free-sparring. Remove all thoughts of self-doubt, but be realistic within your capabilities. Visualize scoring on a superior fighter using your favorite technique; this is the first step to actually achieving the desired result. If you do not believe that you can do it, there is little chance of it ever happening. Use this strategy as often as possible; raising your objectives as each success is achieved. The positive images will be self-fulfilling and the mental conditioning will become an integral part of your training. Cultivate a strong, determined attitude prior to competing. Do not concentrate on using a specific technique or think about the outcome of the match, this distracts the mind. Respond intuitively and simply aim to do your best.
Avoid preliminary movements or actions that may be read by opponent, such as a big breath prior to attack or tugging on pants leg before a kick. This contradicts fundamental bio-mechanics (human movement) that dictate that basic techniques require preparatory movements. There is no time to “prepare” in free-sparring, develop an explosive start to all techniques. Learn to interpret the opponent’s intentions, such as feet in line may indicate a sliding side kick is coming. Learn to read the hips. Whenever a hip comes toward you, that is advance notice to you that something is coming from that side. Some also telegraph with their shoulders, but this is overt and amateurish. Also, try to read loading up in the hips in preparation for an attack. You can use telegraphing yourself to make your opponent think you are going to attack one way while you actually attack another way.
When using more than one technique in sequence, you must allow time for the opponent to react. For instance, when using a double jab, the opponent will pull his or her head back from the first jab. You must wait for the opponent's head to return to its normal position or the second jab will also miss its target. You may miss-time your step and punch, so that they are not simultaneous, by punching early or late to confuse the opponent. Timing, like range, cannot be improved by practicing basics. Good timing requires anticipation, total awareness, and intuition; otherwise you will become a victim of the opponent’s feints. Good timing can compensate for lack of speed. Develop timing by lots of free-sparring.
- Be courteous and humble.
- Be courageous and confident, but maintain self-control.
- Be alert and accurate.
- Fighting requires brains. Out think your opponent.
- Victory goes to the one:
- With more accuracy and speed in attack and defense.
- With more stamina.
- With more power.
- With the most contacting techniques.
- That gets off first.
- Who has better knowledge.
- With a correct attitude.
- With the will to win.
- Analyze opponent:
- Is center of balance high, low, or changing?
- What types of attacks does he or she use?
- Is he or she fast or slow, strong or weak, or hard or soft?
- Is he or she experienced?
- Is he or she stationary or constantly moving?
- Think many moves ahead, similar to playing chess.
- Maintain a high level of fitness, so you may tire out your opponent. Accuracy and speed are reduced when muscles are fatigued.
- Appear confident at all times.
- Never underestimate an opponent and never allow yourself to be too impressed with the opposition.
- Avoid showing any discomfort or tiredness.
- The safest place is in close with head tucked in behind high hands with elbows tucked in.
- Control the opponent and the fight.
- Do not drop your guard hand as you punch; stay guarded.
- Fight your own fight.
- Do not cock your punches or follow-through with punches. Most punches should move straight to target and straight back to guard.
- Do not cross your legs; stay in a fighting stance as you shuffle.
- Do not dance on the backs of your heels - stay light on your toes. It hides your intended movements from your opponent.
- Keep your eyes open.
- Do not lock out your arm as you punch, it may lead to elbow injuries.
- For any technique that is not a fake, any movement, offensive or defensive, that is not toward the target is wasted movement, which makes the technique slower than that of a direct movement toward the target.
- Point your feet in the direction of the power.
- Some prefer to not look at the scores and just fight their best fight, but the scores are important to your fighting style. If you are ahead and time is running out, you may want to use a defensive strategy. If you are behind, you may want to go for higher scoring techniques
- Do not stick out your tongue or mouth guard. Do not chew your mouth guard.
- Vary your angles of attack.
- Return to your fighting stance after every strike.
- Do not be a headhunter; vary your targets.
- Attack only when you see an opening. Do not just attack to appear busy.
- Once inside, keep both hands punching.
- Do not make the same mistake twice.
- A straight punch will usually beat a hook.
- Carry hands high and watch your opponent through your eyebrows, thus keeping your chin down and protected.
- Fear is restricting. Use it to your advantage.
- Never underestimate opponent.
- Any time there is an opening, attack, do not wait.
- Use a variety of techniques.
- You are most vulnerable when moving into your attack or moving away from an opponent's attack
- Keep opponent in scoring position where judges may see your techniques.
- Do not panic when you receive a warning.
- Avoid set patterns of fighting; learn to react to each attack.
- Kick your way out of clashes.
- A direct counterattack demoralizes opponents because it stops an opponent's attack before it even gets off.
- Counterattack as opponent begins approach footwork. For example, counter just as opponent steps behind lead foot for a sliding side kick.
- Opponent's high attack mean a low target is open and vice-versa.
- Counter attack kickers when they are on one foot because their balance is weak and they cannot retreat from the attack.
- Do not acknowledge a point against you.
- Vary your moves. Never use the same move more than twice in succession.
- Keep moving. Move in a circle, in both directions.
- If you do not have time to counter or block an attack, either step into the attack, to jam or smother it, or quickly sidestep and execute a circular kick before there is a counter.
- Keep the trailing guard arm up at all times because you cannot bend over to roll under an attack coming from that side.
- When an unblocked attack is directed at the face, lean away or pull your lead shoulder and head together to protect your jaw to prevent getting knocked out.
- Do not emphasize speed at the expense of form.
- It is dangerous to lead with the trailing hand.
- Use full movement when practicing and when sparring.
- When opponent moves, you move, either with a defensive technique, an offensive technique, or to maintain your fighting range.
- Never stand flat-footed with your knees straight. Always keep your knees slightly bent, coiled like springs, so that you may move in any direction easily and keep moving, or jump without having to squat first
- Never score a point or throw a technique and then turn your back and lose your superiority over your opponent. Stay "in their face" until break is called.
- When sidestepping an attack, wait until the last split second to move. If you move too early, the opponent may follow you with the attack. If you move too late, it is too late to move. It is a fine line.
- Never take your eyes off your opponent. Never turn your back to an opponent. Avoid turning your back to judges, because they cannot see your points.
- Develop a "poker face" when fighting, that way you never telegraph your intentions through facial expressions. Never show fear, its builds your opponent's confidence. Try to look relaxed and confident, it makes your opponents nervous, which will affect their fighting ability.
- If it worked once, it will probably work again, but do not over use it.
- Do not hesitate to back up when required.
- A calm mind is built through meditation and a lot of sparring. Maintain a calm mind, because it:
- Builds a strong spirit.
- Keeps you loose.
- Causes you not to be easily distracted.
- Gives you confidence that you can beat opponent.
- Maintain proper form at all times, even when fatigued.
- Perform techniques correctly, smoothly, gracefully, and forcefully. Basic moves performed well are the secret of success.
- Use your eyes
- Defocus eyes so as not to concentrate on any one thing. Slightly crossing eyes may defocus them so you see the whole picture.
- Keep eyes open and the opponent in view.
- Look through the opponent with a piercing vision.
- Learn not to blink when attacked, use feints to opponent’s eyes to make him or her blink.
- Keep your eyes on your opponent's upper chest. Do not watch your opponent's eyes or head. It is easy to fake with eye movements and head bobs. A common technique is for the attacker to look in one direction and move in another. The upper chest controls the arm muscles of your opponent's punches and is crucial for balance as he or she attempts to kick. By watching your opponent's upper chest, you will "see" punches and kicks before they begin.
- Keep teeth tight to prevent injury to jaw when it is hit.
- Opponents respect pain, so block hard.
- Hands are your most dangerous weapon, so use them.
- Use lead hand as a measure for distance.
- Be aware of your surroundings and use them, such as edges of the fighting ring, walls, pillars, bright sun, etc.
- Novices may not follow your lead, as would a more experienced opponent.
- To win, it is not how much you may hurt the opponent, but how much pain you can endure to stop him or her.
- Always look at the intended target, except when using a feint.
- Maintain balance throughout execution of techniques.
- Use feints infrequently; only us them when you have an intention to attack.
- Blend forces skillfully.
- In a close match, attack continuously. Now is not the time for counterattacks.
- Conserve energy, useless kicks waste energy. Jumping kicks uses lots of energy.
- Do not walk into a kick. It happens all the time.
- Kicks to body score more often than kicks to head.
- Do not cheer yourself. Never show disrespect towards your opponent.
- Relax. Tension slows reaction time.
- Read opponent, but do not be trapped by feints and false movements.
- Tactics and experience may be better than speed.
- Never stop trying if things are not going well. It only takes one well placed technique to turn the contest your way.
- Attack fiercely to "psych out" your opponent and intimidate them. Use glare and flare. Glare as if you were angry and flare the nostrils. You may look angry without actually being angry. Anger has no place in the ring but angry looks are okay. Another form of intimidation is to look competent and confident.
- Do not practice in slow motion, practice as in a real fight. You cannot become a fast sprinter by jogging every day.
- Spin with an attack to defect it.
- Join with an attack to increase the force of your counter technique.
- Unite with the body and spirit of the opponent. Go with the flow. Do not oppose opponent's power; instead, harmonize with it.
- Lead opponent in a circle; never receive his force directly. Lead opponent in a continuous spiral motion to unbalance him or her.
- Apply all actions sequentially for a smooth force that culminates at the point of impact. Like an axe swing.
- Conserve energy. Maintain direction of motion until all techniques are used up.
- If you can pin point a specific weakness in your opponent’s defense, attack it over and over.
- Even if you have the lead, do not back off. Do not worry about making your opponent look bad. If you really want to help your opponent, wait until after the match and discuss the match with him or her.
- After completing your full attack, make sure you have a disengaging technique that will help create a gap between you and your opponent, such as jumping backward with a pushing front kick.
- Quick reflex fighters do not move much when sparring because they do not need to move. Many opponents do not realize the quickness or are too impatient so they keep walking into range.
- Do not do a lot of impressive stretches or practice kicks to impress the crowd; your opponents are watching. You are merely showing your weapons to the enemy.
- Never take your eyes off of your opponent, even if a punch is coming directly at your face. Try to slip it and while keeping your focus on the opponent.
- Use double attacks, kick and punch at the same time to different areas, such as punch to head while front kicking to mid section. Do not look at an incoming attack. An off-road motorcycling trick is never to look at a rock in front of you. If you look at it, you will hit it. Just be aware of the rack and take evasive action.
- When you see a punch coming, block or slip it while firing a counter over or under it. There is always an opening behind an attack.
- When your opponent over-reacts to all of your movements, you have to calm him or her down. Attack a little slower, only use single attacks, or focus attacks much too short so the person starts to calm down. Then use the same technique in combination with a quick counter that catches him or her off guard.
- Sometimes you lead (be the aggressor), sometimes you follow (be the counter attacker). Switch from one mode to the other as needed. If opponent is stronger or more aggressive, then you should be a counter fighter. If opponent is passive, then you want to dominate by being aggressive.
- Sometimes you have to switch fighting styles in midstream.
- When sparring in class, concentrate on a particular technique. Develop that technique until you become proficient with it. Do not be afraid to try something new. Do not worry about “losing” a sparring match in class; this is learning time, not fighting time.
- Do not fall into the trap of trying to fight the same as your opponent. Do not always move in the same direction as your opponent. See what type of reaction you draw if you back up when your opponent backs up. If facing a good kicker, do not get into a kicking contest. Fight your fight, changing it as necessary.
- Use footwork to avoid attacks and set up for your attacks. It is difficult for your opponent to hit a moving target and, when you are constantly moving, it is more difficult for your opponent to detect the initial movement or your attack.
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