To a Man the Weaker Fighter Can Beat
The title was a little long, and I couldn’t think of a shorter one that conveyed the main idea of the article. Hope you don’t mind.
A few nights ago, I was talking to a young Muay Thai fighter with MMA aspirations from another gym. He really came into my gym out of curiosity, and had not been taught to say, “Sir I was curious and would like to see what it is that you guys do.” No harm done. I just can’t stand it when a martial arts teacher does it. As with many martial arts students in the Muay Thai/BJJ/MMA gyms, he was told that his art beats all others. As if all you needed to do was learn it, and you’d be unbeatable.
You know, we have lots of people in the FMAs who think this way…
He was watching my Kung Fu Intermediate students training–which I almost never allow, but I’d left the door open and didn’t want to kick the guy out–and he noticed that one of my students, Norman Wong, had a very fast and powerful wheel punch. He commented on how he would love to be so quick and pack as much power. Thank you for the compliment. Then he goes on to say that no one at his gym had that kind of speed, but there were several that could match his power. He asked how much Norman weighed, and I answered “120.” Same weight, he says. So I ask him, do you think you could stop that punch? And his answer was what many aggressive fighters say:
“We focus on attacking, so an attack like that wouldn’t matter.”
I am an attack-based fighter myself. However, that young guy is in for a rude awakening with that belief. While it is true that having a strong offense elminates some need for defense, it does not negate the neeed altogether. In fact, it’s stupid to think so.
First, the question is if the fighter in front of you is dangerous because he is:
- faster than you are
- stronger than you are
- has better timing
- is more pain tolerant
- has superior strategy
- is more aggressive
- has longer limbs and knows how to use them
- is more evasive or otherwise has better footwork
- strikes only vital points (therefore being more efficient)
- intimidates you
- is trickier than you are (due to experience or fighting wisdom), or
- is busier than you are
Because of all twelve reasons he is dangerous, only #12 can be negated by having only having a stronger attacking skills and does not rely on anything else. If you have inferior footwork, your skills mean nothing because he can outmaneuver you–and you will never find a target long enough to fire. If he has a reach advantage, he will never let you get close enough to use your technique. If you are intimidated by him, psychologically you won’t be able to pull the trigger when you want to… or at all. I’m not going to go through all 12 items, btw. If it is all of the above, my friend, you are in for a major ass-kicking and I hope you’ve been praying, cause you don’t have any other chance.
Secondly, you must be able to ensure that your opponent’s attacks do not interfere with your own. This is accomplished with one of the 12 items listed above, and either of two things:
- good use of counterattacking skills
- knowledge of defensive tactics
Although it is difficult to control the opponent and when he attacks, it is not impossible. This is cannot be learned by blog, and it cannot be learned from someone who does not have enough ring experience. What I can tell you is that in order to force your attacks to meet their mark when you want them to, you must have one of the above, plus the ability to stop the opponent in the event he attacks you
- while you’re attacking, or
- when you’re not ready to attack
In this case, you must be able to block his attack, jam him/intercept, or counter his attack at the drop of a dime. And of these three things, the first–blocking–is the fastest thing you can do, especially when caught by surprise.
Finally, defensive skill–useful, strong defensive skill–is imperative to keep you going if you find yourself injured or too tired to launch an attack; i.e., when you, yourself, has been “defanged”. We talk of defanging snakes so much, no one ever talks about what should be done if you have been defanged. Sorry, but those Sinawali skills are irrelevant here. This is self-explanatory, so I won’t say anymore about this subject other than that.
When I was talking to the young guy, I told him that I rarely will disagree with a teacher to his student, but that philosophy will cause him to lose to an opponent that a weaker fighter may be able to defeat. He was scratching his head, and I did not have time to fully explain–but there you have the answer. You and a weaker fighter face the same strong/long-armed/experienced/iron jawed/intimidating/blah blah blah opponent. You have no defense, and he destroys you because you never get to use your tools. The weaker fighter is able to stop punches until the guy who beat you got tired, then he destroys him.
Don’t believe me? Take Fraizer versus Foreman, and then Ali (who was not as strong as Fraizer) versus Foreman. How about Buster Douglas versus Tyson, and then Tyson versus Holifield? Duran versus Hearns, and then Hearns versus Leonard. Sometimes you need more than big balls to beat the tough guy.
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