I thought I would offer some advice to help you improve your fighting ability. These tips can be used whether you are training for stickfighting or empty hand fighting, point or full contact.
#1: Develop a set of no more than 10 attacks and specialize in them
I would say you should make it even less than 10–perhaps 6–strikes, punches, kicks. Most fighters would rather have a more vast arsenal, which is fine if you have the time to develop them. Either way, these skills should be the focal point of your training time, and you should work your reps in the hundreds when training. This doesn’t mean to shun everything else you know, but every fighter should have something he does exceptionally well.
It can be something you are already good at, or it can be something that you don’t see many fighters doing.
The reason I say this is that opponents vary in skill and experience, and when you have skills that trouble 90% of them, you have an advantage most fighters are not prepared for. The better you are at these skills, the greater success you will have in fighting. At a minimum, you should have the most common attacks (jab, cross, round kick, front kick) and then at least 2 other attacks.
Notice that I am referring to single, simple attacks and not combinations.
#2: Develop 10 Attack Combinations
Every fighter needs an arsenal of methods of attack. Too many martial artists
train without having a good plan in training, and just make their personal training sessions miniature versions of their regular martial arts classes. Identify (or devise) 8 – 10 combination attacks that will be another focus of your training. These should be well thought-out combinations that have specific fighter types and situations in mind. When you have a good plan of attack, you eliminate wasted time and movement in sparring–which too many fighters are guilty of doing in fighting.
This is important, because fighters, tend to probe and paw, probe and paw (jabbing, mainly) which leaves them open to a sudden attack. When you are thoughtlessly jabbing and/or throwing out random strikes, your reflexes are on ice and you can be caught unprepared. Rather, you want to paw and probe just for a few moments to lull your opponent’s reflexes to sleep, and then attack with a fierce, multiple onslaught. This is a better way of attacking than simply throwing strikes and kicks, hoping one lands. It is also a more focused way of finishing a fight. Too many Eskrimadors spend too much time on defensive practice, and not enough time planning how to attack and opponent. This is one of the secrets of the Filipino fighting arts: old school Eskrima is attack-oriented, not defensive.
#3: Develop 10 Counter-attack strategies
At my school, we don’t work defense; rather, we train to counter attack. There is a huge difference. In defense, one assumes role of prey. In counter attack, think of yourself as a lion who has been provoked into attacking. As a fighter, you should have an answer for your opponent’s attempts to finish you. With this in mind, an attacking opponent should run into an unseen ambush from below (a trap) instead of a shield (a block), which is what most martial artists practice for.
Use a block if you’d like, but have the follow-up to that block as a part of that technique. It should be aggressive, it should be surprising, and unseen. I would advise against having too many up your sleeve, since having less time to practice and develop them would hurt your effectiveness. These counters can be developed to answer several attacks or varied to answer attacks to the various targets. The idea is to have good, strong attacks that only need to be prompted by something your opponent does in order to pull the trigger.
So, how do you get your counters to this point? Train the counters. hundreds, thousands of times. It’s just that simple.
Avoid having every training session become all-purpose. If you are training for fighting, these three elements must be present–otherwise you are not training for fighting. Notice, that I did not mention drills, calisthenics, even sparring. What we are doing in this session is to drill the tools, as-is, for fighting ability without having to “translate” anything. Consider revising your training plans to be more focused and purposeful.
Thanks for reading my blog!