Defensive tactics are used when your opponent attacks first. An opponent is most vulnerable when attacking, so a good defense with a follow-up counterattack will usually score. The following items are listed in the format: (attack technique) initial stance (open or closed) defensive technique. Opponent's attacking technique is in ( ).
From "open" fighting position (opposite lead legs)
- (Skip front kick) Skip slightly to rear, block, counter with roundhouse to middle or high section.
- (Skip roundhouse) Skip to rear, rear leg roundhouse.
- (Skip roundhouse) Step to side, punch to middle section.
- (Skip hook kick) Slide lead leg back, lean away from attack, then counter with strong rear leg roundhouse.
- (Skipping side kick) Skip to rear, block, and rear leg roundhouse.
- Execute lead leg middle side kick. (As opponent moves backward to avoid being hit and then attempts a rear leg round kick) Immediately execute a middle spin side kick.
From "closed" fighting position (same lead legs)
- (Skip front kick) Step to the rear, block, and spin side kick to middle section.
- (Skip front kick) No step back, just spin hook kick to head
- (Skip roundhouse) Spinning side kick.
- (Skip round house) Slide lead leg back, and then spin hook kick.
- (Spin kick) Punch kick to back, do not allow attacker to complete technique, change step, skip roundhouse.
- (Change step, skip roundhouse) Skip to rear, spin side kick.
- (Skip side kick) Step to rear, rear leg roundhouse to middle section.
Attacking is a relatively simple task when compared to successfully defending against an attack. A good defensive strategy is always to keep your opponent off balance by either moving or attacking.
If you decide to stand your ground, always initiate an offensive movement of your own just as your opponent moves into range. Long-range linear kicks, such as front and side kicks are effective counters to opponents at long range. Round, hook, and heel kicks may let the opponent slip inside and score. Axe and push kicks may also be effective, but they leave you vulnerable if unsuccessful. The idea is to hit your opponent before he or she hits you, or at least to hit with more force. When you are in a defensive mode, a simultaneous counterattack is seldom expected. The key in delivering this defensive attack is to initiate your technique at the exact moment the opponent begins his or her attack; then it is too late for the attacker to change techniques. If your defensive attack is too early, your opponent may have time to adjust and possibly pull you into a counterattack. If your defensive attack is too late, you may walk into the attacking technique.
Alternate between defending and evading before launching a defensive attack. As your opponent tries to strike, use your footwork to evade. The more often you evade attacks rather than countering them, the more frustrated and aggressive your opponent may get. Then, when the opponent is drawn into the belief you are not counterattacking, you catch him or her off guard when you stand your ground with a defensive attack. If constantly defend or avoid attacks, you allow your opponent to maintain superiority of the match. To avoid attacks and regain ring superiority, sidestep or circle your opponent. Never move straight back unless you plan to counter or sidestep within the first two backward steps. If you do counter, but do not connect solidly, add an additional attack to drive your opponent backward. If you do connect solidly, then circle to avoid a counterattack. This allows the judges to keep your previous strong blow in mind.
One effective avoidance movement is the sidestep. If you need to move right to avoid your opponent, push off with your lead leg into the same stance but further to the right. If you need to move left, push off with your rear leg, and then switch your stance as you slide to the left. Be sure to shift both feet simultaneously, keeping them as close to the floor as possible and as evenly as possible. Be conscious of exactly where your move will place you. Ideally, you want to position yourself for a kick counterattack. The step and kick should be performed simultaneously. Step diagonally, not horizontally; stepping slightly forward and to the right or left, or slightly backward to the right or left.
- Always keep elbows and arms close to the body, do not flap them a bird. Michelangelo once said that a sculpture should be able to roll down a hill without anything breaking off. Likewise, do not leave things sticking out while sparring.
- Never block past the outside edge of the body. It is unnecessary and wastes movement and energy.
- Always use the quickest, most powerful, and most effective movements; you need every split second in your favor. The quickest blocks are hard blocks, but they are hard on the body of the defender as well as the body of the attacker. Soft blocks are easier on the body, but they take more time to execute. Use principle of Um-Yang, the harmonious action of opposites. Hard and soft techniques are opposite in application but they work together to defend the body. Soft blocks are effective against hard attacks, and vice versa.
- Block with power. Block with enough power that the pain will cause the opponent to think twice before attacking again. A block is not just contact with the attacking limb, you must block with enough force to stop the attack.
- Remember, blocks are useful but you do not get points for blocks. You must also attack successfully.
- When contact sparring, do not kick at the opponent, kick through the opponent to insure there is enough movement for you blast through any block and score.
- In modern competition, blocks are small and fast. In Olympic style Taekwondo sparring, blocks are losing favor in favor of attacking strategies. The advantage of economical blocks is that rapid recovery may be achieved so there may be an immediate counterattack, which is crucial after blocking.
Some points to consider in blocking are:
- Look at approaching blow.
- Execute the block forcibly to defect the blow.
- When possible, use blocking hand on the same side of the body as the lead foot
- Deflecting and redirecting an attacking object will absorb less of the energy from the strike by the body than by stopping it. It disperses the attack harmlessly away, avoiding the brunt of the attack.
- Tense body at moment of impact.
- Maintain balance.
- Immediately re-chamber the arm.
- Be prepared to counterattack. Follow every block with a counterattack.
- Apply perpendicular or circular force.
- Use opponent’s force against him or her.
- Use blocks to inflict pain.
- Use parries to unbalance opponent.
- Use body movement to avoid attack.
- Beat opponent to punch.
- Block hard to break opponents balance
- Parry (deflect) attacks when possible rather than blocking. It is quicker and permits quicker counterattacks
- Keep guard up, hands high, elbows tucked in.
- Jam a kick as it is cocked to prevent the kick from firing.
- Use a beat for a counterattack. It is quicker and more difficult for the opponent to block (Beating is bouncing a block off the opponent's attack into an immediate counterattack)
- Your defense has to facilitate your offense. Everything "defensive" is really a matter of doing AS LITTLE AS POSSIBLE to make opponent miss, while not messing up your alignment to hit back. There is no need for multi-step blocking or highly eccentric movements
- As Musashi says, "Do nothing that is without a reason." Beware of gratuitous and wasteful motions that do not serve any purpose. For example, jab when you slip a jab. Cross when you slip a cross. Etc. The thing that weakens an opponent's offense is your own offense. Everything else (e.g. slipping without countering, blocking as an isolated movement) is just prolonging the inevitable.