Tuesday, 15 April 2014


Depending on the type of competition or whether it is a real fight or competition it is very important to know what  distance is close enough to touch the opponent and what range is close enough for some real damage.

This fight probably comes to anyone's mind when we think about fighting a taller opponent.

The Legendary Musashi Miyamoto is said to have fought a samurai called Kojiro. Kojiro's advantage in combat lay in his sword, which was longer than what was the norm at the time. Musashi, however, remedied the situation by beating Kojiro to death with a wooden oar which he had modified to fight with.

I am not going to deal with projectile weapons and guns here. Everyone knows that the range of those is far longer than even a 7 foot staff can muster. What I will discuss, however, is what assumptions about range are wrong- and even dangerous- and which approaches deliver the best results. 

First of all-It is not always a good idea to stay out of your opponent's attacking range:
It is a good idea to stay out of his reach, but not always to stay too far away. Let me explain:
Suppose you are fighting an opponent who is taller than you. Sure- all his kicks and punches are missing you, but does he stop chasing you? I bet not. I also bet that he eventually catches up to you. How many blows have you landed, though? 

Now, let's picture this:
Instead of retreating you have slipped past that side kick. That kicking foot is behind you. The opponent's nearest hand is right in front of you while the other is on the other side of his body, safely away from you. And you have both fists primed and ready to strike... Looks a lot better, right?

I think we all have seen basic stick defences showing relying on you to get in close, past the weapon, in order to counter attack. Well- a lot of tall people don't need sticks to improve their reach, but their long limbs eave them vulnerable to those fighters who can get past those fists and feet and deal some damage.

On the other hand- It is a silly idea to try to get inside the attack and defense of a shorter opponent. Really now. You hardly need to move back even... Keep him (or her- ladies can be just as dangerous) too far to hit you, but close enough for you to hit. 

Lastly- competition karate (semi-contact competitions) trains participants to get only close enough for that fist or foot (I know of a case where a point was awarded for someone's big toe brushing against the opponent's nose!) to touch its target. Really good for that type of sport. Really bad idea if you have any UFC aspirations or if you actually have to defend yourself. The best way to find your range is to train against a punching bag. That distance at which you can land nice solid blows and maybe even get that choke or grab in is where you should be working. Train your reflexes to slip, duck and block those blows, but make sure you get there to land those blows. Attacking a real opponent may often feel like running through a jungle- often having to sweep one or more branches out of your way to get where you are going...

Have fun training and feel free to contact me with any questions, tips or stories at boshoffm3@gmail.com.

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