Most students think that sparring involves either attacking or blocking, but there is more to sparring than these two skills. Using just these two skills, it is difficult to defeat certain types of opponents, such aggressive attackers, attackers who can close the distance quickly, attackers who quickly hit and run, and attackers who like to clinch. Against these types of fighters, counterattacking is the best strategy.
Researchers at the University of Birmingham in England tested subjects in a type of "laboratory gunfight" to find out whether it is best to draw first in a gunfight, or to react to the opponent drawing first. Instead of a drawing guns, the subjects had to slap a button. The study showed that the second person to draw moves faster—by an average of 21 milliseconds. This small difference is too slim to make a difference; however, it shows that there is no speed disadvantage to counterattacking. A counterattack may reach its target at same time as an attack. It appears that two different brain processes govern action and reaction, a theory supported by the fact that some Parkinson's patients find it easier to catch a ball than to pick one up.
Reasons why counter attackers are efficient and deadly
- In an attack, the attacker does not know what the opponent will do in reaction; whereas, the counter attacker knows exactly what the attacker is doing.
- Attackers attack where they think the target will be will be after the opponent reacts to the attack; whereas, the counter attacker attacks where the target is at the moment of the attack.
- Their opponents are always trying to think of another attack that may work against them, so in a way, opponents are always on the defense.
- Counterattacking uses less energy than attacking so counter attackers do not tire as quickly as attackers.
- Since attacking requires planning, attackers are always thinking about their next attack, which slows them down. Counter attackers relax, stay alert, and react to the opponent's attack with instinct rather than thought, so their responses are quick.
- Attackers have a plan of attack when they attack, so each attack has a beginning and an end. The power and kiai of the attack is on the ending technique. If things do not go according to plan, the planned end never arrives, and neither does the power. Since a counter attacker has no set response, there is no planned end to the counterattack, so the finishing technique with power and kiai may come at anytime.
It is unavoidable not to have your protection weaken when attacking. Therefore, take advantage of attacks and use counterattacks.
- Always stay one step ahead of your opponent.
- Know your distance and timing.
- Do not wait for your opponent to attack. Move forward, forcing your opponent to attack so you will have the opportunity to counter.
- Do not block to retreat and then counter; block to counter immediately or your timing will not be right.
- For advanced competitors, counterattacks stand the best chance of scoring. Beginning and intermediate competitors are most likely to score with single direct attacks. In a close match, an attacking fighter is more likely to win that a counterattacking fighter unless the counter attacker can score a knockout.
- Counterattacking fighters should capitalize on the use of their front leg to increase chances of scoring.
Counterattacks against various types of opponents
- Against an opponent that attacks aggressively, use footwork to evade the attack, or face the attack and block it. When evading, immediately counterattack with hand and/or feet before opponent may recover from the charge. A lead leg side kick or a spin side kick is effective in stopping a charging opponent. If the opponent charges quickly, make the kicks fading kicks where you jump backward and upward at a 45 degree angle to give yourself enough room to execute the kicks.
- Against a quick closing opponent, do not back up; instead, move to the sides or at angles, or charge into the attack. If you back up, the opponent will close again, etc. until you are out of bounds. By charging the attack, you may jam the attack or at least take the power out of the attack. A few quick lead side kicks to the midsection will convince quick closers to slow down or think twice before attacking.
- Against opponents who attack quickly and then retreat just as quickly, you should catch them as they move in. Move backward just enough to avoid the attack and then double kick, or rush the opponent before he or she may retreat.
- Against an opponent who attempts to clinch, move backward, kick with rear leg to stop opponent's movement, and then kick with other leg. Use arms and bob and weave to ward off attempts to clinch.
Some specific counterattacks
|From||If attack is||Use this counterattack|
|Open Stance||Back leg roundhouse||Spin hook kick|
|Open Stance||Front leg/skipping roundhouse||Front leg inside-to-out axe kick|
|Open Stance||Spin hook kick||Side step, then rear leg roundhouse|
|Open Stance||Double roundhouses||Spin hook kick/push kick|
|Open Stance||Axe kick||Side step, then spin hook kick|
|Closed Stance||Back leg roundhouse||Outside-to-in axe kick|
|Closed Stance||Front leg/skipping roundhouse||Spin hook kick|
|Closed Stance||Spin hook kick||Side step, then rear leg roundhouse|
|Closed Stance||Double roundhouses||Spin hook kick/push kick|
|Closed Stance||Axe kick||
Side step, then spin hook kick
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