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Basic Striking Defense Theorem

Posted 09-05-2009 at 05:58 AM by

An earlier instructional post from a while back. I heard a few posters would like to have all my instructional posts in one easy to find section. Well here it is...

As is usually the case in the Training Section of the forum, it is very common that posts tend to be of the “Offensive-mindset.” But what of those times where one is on the defensive side of the Stand up battle? While it is true that the “best defense is a great offense” in most accounts, one cannot expect that the live, resisting and trained opponent in front of them will willingly allow them to attack unabated and uninterrupted. The most competitive fights are always between two trained opponent’s steeped in the proverbial “human chess match;” wherein the participants take turns imposing their wills upon one another. This in turn continues until one hits that critical attack, or reversal, or hooks that critical hold that brings upon the end of the match. It is in those moments that fighters usually figure out why they fight. As taken many times from Chuck Palahniuk’s novel “Fight Club,” it is when you’re fighting that you feel most alive. “When it’s on… It’s on… And nothing else matters.”

But I digress… I’m not here to provide reviews on literature that I haven’t fully read. I am here to talk about defense. The reason why defense is a key component to fighting can be summarized very succinctly:

If you have dynamite in each fist, or swing kicks that mow down humanity like the reaper's blade, it will not matter in a fight if you are struck down first by your opponent.

Likewise, if you are carrying on through a fight where you are taking two for every one shot you throw, you are most likely (unless you are grossly more powerful or tougher in comparison to your opponent) going to lose that fight. Let’s face it: It is unrealistic to expect to fight against trained opponents never to find out what it is like to get hit. MMA is a sport/competition based in reality. Unlike the movies, none of the competitors in MMA prescribe to the “Black Ninja” school of Martial Arts. If you choose to get into a fight, you can expect to get hit.

Just as Sugar Ray Leonard would say, “Fighters get hit. Good fighters don’t get hit as much.” As plain as that is, its merit in truth cannot be denied. In that end, what seems as a given in the eyes of many seems to go understated by many MMA competitors and Fans. I would think that many fighters would like to train their defensive acumen and fall into the “Good fighter” category.

Before I get too far, let me state that I do not prescribe to the “tough guy” mentality of taking one and returning in kind. Why test your chin when it will lend itself better to test the chin of your opponent? If you take that into perspective, testing your chin and losing in the ring can be bad. However, testing your chin and losing in a self-defense situation on the street can be fatal. It is bad enough to lose in a match, at least you can gain experience and return better trained and prepared. However, the world outside the ring or cage tends to be a lot less forgiving. That is why I think it is worth while to post this up.

Before I get too preachy, let’s get into the basic methodology of stand-up/striking defense. I will not get into specific techniques at this time, but rather let me state what I’ve found through research and application as to what works. For the sake of those who have not had any training in striking arts, I will keep everything as simple as possible.

In the training of defense, it is found that training defensive techniques with the fewest steps work best and are the most reliable. Many striking schools may teach multi-step defensive techniques that might possibly be effective in an actual fight. However, I don’t prescribe to them because of two reasons: 1) What if the fighter doesn’t attack exactly as the technique describes? 2) In stressful situations, you cannot reliably expect that longer, drawn-out technique sequences will be recognized by the fighter trying to utilize it. On that end the techniques that I will post here follow a very simple, 1-2, “Defend and then counter” pattern. These are the easiest to learn, and usually the easiest to utilize. Besides, why wait for the 5th or 6th punch or kick thrown by your opponent when you can stop them after (or even before) the first attack is thrown?

All defensive technique should be followed with a counter attack. If you are against an aggressive opponent, or any opponent who is trying to win, you cannot realistically expect them to finish their attack and politely allow you your own salvo afterwards. With an aggressive opponent, they will simply continue to attack until they are stopped or they have completely overwhelmed and finished you. So every defense should be followed with a counter.

In my research, Striking defense can be broken down into four (4) different methods. This is what they are, and this is how they differ:

Interrupt/Faster/Pre-Emptive Attack:
This is simply hitting the opponent with a faster attack while they are in the midst of attacking you. This can be a straight punch as your opponent winds up their overhand right, a pushing kick as your opponent chambers their own kick, or a knee to the opponent’s head as they try to shoot. This is the “Intercepting fist” of Jeet Kune Do. In this method, you strike the opponent when you first recognize that they are attacking. In this method, the counter attack is already included as it occurs at the moment of defense.

Dodging/Evasion: As Mr. Miyagi would say, “Best defense… You no be there!” This requires trained body movement (both upper body and foot work) to stymie your opponent’s attack by causing it to miss. Now, this is not any intricate or acrobatic type movement. Nope, no Matrix bridges here. Rather these are economic movements that will cause your opponents to miss while you move into a position to attack them while they are out of position to defend. Ducking, slipping, side-stepping, back-pedaling and retreating all fall into this type of defense.

Deflect/Catch: Not a true block, but a simple push, pull or cutting into the strike angle of the attacking limb while moving into an angle that gives you an advantage for countering with strikes. Likewise, catching the limb of the attacker in order to control them as you counter with a strike or grapple also falls into this category of defense. This method of defense is usually the hardest to master, but can make a competitor dangerous to aggressive opponents. By using the energy of an opponent’s attack to pull them into position for a counter, or to create an opening for attack, more effective counter attacks can be made.

Cover Up/Blocking:
Many times attacks can be so sudden, or occur in such close quarters that dodging or catching them are not possible. In that case, one may only be able to defend themselves by bring up a barrier to block the attack. This may be your arm, your legs, your shoulders, knees or elbows. As long as the attacking limb does not effectively hit a vital point, the block goes a long way to mitigate the force of your opponent’s attacks. This is the simplest type of defense to learn, as it is the most instinctive. However, as a rule one should always implement the other defensive methods first. With a block, you always end up absorbing the brunt of your opponent’s attack which can result in cumulative damage to your fighting limbs.

With that in mind, I’ll post up your standard punch defense in my next post. Hopefully that won’t be too long in coming.

• Muay Thai Basics by, Christoph Delp
• Savage Strikes by, Mark Hatmaker
• Tao of Jeet Kune Do by, Bruce Lee
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