“Secrets” of the Filipino Fighting Arts
Words from a Modern-Day Warrior

Use of Lateral Movement in Countering/Defense

I have a kickboxing class with young people, that I teach 2 days a week. Right now, I only have four students aged 13 and 14 (one 14 year old and three 13 year olds). We will work until January, when I will put them in continuous fighting in point tournaments and eventually the Muay Thai circuit.

Out of the four kids, only one is shorter than me–the 14 year old and three of the 13 year olds (two are girls) are all taller than 5’7″. But one of the 13 year olds is about 5 feet even. He is an agressive boy, but despite that, one of my girls was killing him with the jab. He uses a Mike Tyson-style of fighting, by weaving side to side and trying to go under the girl’s punches, but was target practice for her quick, accurate jab. So last night, we spent twenty minutes moving with our #2 and #4 footwork–the inside step and the outside step. I am going to have the kids spend at least three more sessions with the lateral movement before having them spar again. I am hoping my little guy is able to find a way to beat that jab.

And at the same time, I want the young lady to learn how to counter it.

Without going too much into detail about it (remember, I am not interested in teaching by blog), I would like to suggest that you work frequently with the side-to-side movement in both your attacking and your defense. For shorter fighters, such as myself, lateral movement is a good way to shorten the distance between you and your opponent. It is also ideal in eliminating the need to have faster hands to stop or catch an opponent. When an opponent is attacking you, your side to side movement will drastically lower his connect percentage–as trying to shoot straight at a laterally-moving target is very difficult.

A good example of this, is the shooting gallery at the carnival. Remember the duck you can’t seem to hit? Although they are moving much slower than the bbs coming out of the gun, and the fact that you know the only direction they are going, you just can’t seem to get any accuracy! It is because when the opponent is directly in front of us we have the ability to choose our target, aim and then fire on it. But when it is moving, we are forced to aim and shoot simultaneously. Depending on our ability to aim while in motion, the target is often repositioned by the time our attack has been released.

We also want to learn to counter while moving laterally. Side to side movement is good for evading. However, it is very difficult to strike back at the opponent while we are in motion. And what better time to counter the opponent, than immediately after he has missed an attack on you? One thing to remember is that since the opponent has attacked you, he has placed himself within the range to land a strike. By moving, you are now beside the spot he was aiming for and in the perfection position to capitalize on the newly created opportunity. Moving and then countering while moving is a must-have for any effective countering or defensive strategy.

In practicing your attacking skills, remember to practice attacking a laterally-moving opponent also. This is one skill I hope my countryman Manny Pacquiao has honed in preparation for the big payday fight with Floyd Mayweather. Floyd’s style is a very effective lateral style of moving, which has made him stand out as one of the most difficult fighters to hit. Many people focus on his slipping and bobbing skills; yet what is more pronounced is his movement. Floyd does not move forward and backward (called the “Caballo” style of footwork–why, I don’t know because horses don’t move backward)–he moves side to side, and then he stops when he wants to fire back. By getting the opponent to move laterally with him and then stopping, he is controlling the opponent and confusing the opponent–who has not had a chance to adjust to the change. This awkwardness causes the opponent to be off balance and allows him to exploit the side-to-side/in place change confusion. In short, the opponent is now going side to side, while Mayweather is now firmly planted and ready to hit. There is a lot to this style of fighting, but by training to hit a laterally moving opponent, you will learn a lot about how to catch one.

I hope this article is not too confusing, as it would be very difficult for me to teach this style of fighting in an article. One could write a book on fighting laterally; there is so much to it. But just by training with the movement, you will find many doors open to you that were not there when you only trained the linear style. Learn to counter with lateral movement, and learn to attack a lateral-moving opponent. Very simple change to your training and it will give you many advantages over most opponents. Thanks for visiting my blog.

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