Feints and fakes are actions that deceive the opponent into reacting in a desired manner. They are a vital part of any attacking strategy. Although the two words "feint" and "fake" are interchangeable, as they relate to fighting, there is a slight difference in their meanings.
A feint is some other body movement, expression, or sound made to deceive the opponent. The movement in a feint is not necessarily an attack nor does the movement need to be toward the opponent. A feint may be an eye movement or pretending to be tired or injured. For example, "I will feign Joe into believing I intend to rear leg kick by shifting my weight to my front leg." Everything else being equal, the fighter with the best feinting and faking skills will win. Some types of feints are:
- False movement. Move head or a limb or shift weight to draw opponent's attention.
- Eye misdirection. Quickly glance in one direction while moving in another direction.
- Change of pace. After a furious attack sequence, pretend to be resting and then attack again when opponent relaxes.
- Psychological. Psyche out opponent using pre-match eye focus. Before you match actually begins, slouch and look unconcerned, then at "Sejak" suddenly change into an alert, fierce fighter.
Feints and fakes provide a way to find an opponent’s weaknesses by discovering his or her preferred responses and style of movement. The idea is to make an opponent react to an imaginary attack to create an opening or to draw the opponent into responding so you may anticipate and counter.
Have you even been in your car stopped at a stoplight with your foot on the brake? You know you are stopped, and yet, when the car next to you rolls back a few inches, for a split second, you think you are moving and push harder on the break. This is way feints and fakes work; you make your opponent react to a perceived, but false, threat.
Feints and fakes are useful in drawing out an opponent who always lets you attack first. The opponent may be tricked into attacking by offering him or her a target in a way that is not obvious, such as slightly raising your guard to invite a mid level attack.
Since fakes are uncompleted techniques, to be effective, they must look like genuine attacks, such as raising the knee and setting up for a front kick, so opponent will react by lowering his or her guard. To complete the strategy, you then attack an undefended high target. Alternatively, after raising your knee for a middle front kick to drop the opponent's guard, you could change the kick to a roundhouse to the unguarded high section. When using punching techniques, fake with one hand and then strike with the other, or fake with one hand and then attack with same hand.
Inviting attacks from your opponent requires a courageous, active approach, not a defensive posture. Gauge how likely it is that your opponent will counter. If opponent is experienced, he or she will be constantly poised, ready to out-time your attack or to block and immediately counter. Plan your offence to encourage opponent to respond. For example, feign or fake with an attack that will draw an anticipated counter response and then counter with the real attack. Since your feint or fake will not be a fully committed movement, it will enable you to strongly block opponent's anticipated counter and follow up with a powerful decisive counter.
Use feints and fakes as a strategy in the initial stages of competition when facing an experienced opponent to test his or her responses to them. Try to draw opponent's counter, rather than fully committing yourself. Once opponent’s weaknesses have been found, attack with full conviction to overwhelm.
Although feints and fakes are an effective sparring strategy, that does not mean you should use them all the time. If you are more experienced, faster, and stronger than your opponent, you probably only need to use decisive, direct attacks. If opponent's skill level is close to yours, you may want to use feints and fakes to create an opening.
How to Feign
Body drop. Make a movement with the lead hand and suddenly bend the lead knee so the body stoops forward quickly. This causes opponent to react to a perceived lunge attack.
Drawing. Drawing is an important type of feint that few ever develop. In feinting, you make an action to create an opening. In drawing, you expose an opening on yourself to draw the opponent into attacking the open target. When opponent makes a move to attack the opening, you slip inside or outside the attack and counterattack. Success depends on speed, timing, and judgment.
- Against an opponent who is reluctant to attack the opening, apply continuous pressure by advancing steadily while exposing the opening to force opponent to attack. When you draw an attack, you know what the target of the attack most likely is, so you may have your counterattack ready to fire.
- If your opponent is an attacker, you may draw an attack by exposing a target, such as by carrying the lead hand low to draw a head attack or by letting the elbows of your guard get further apart to draw a midsection attack. Once opponent initiates the attack, you close the opening and counterattack.
- Instead of attacking, counter fighters tend to lie in wait. They wait for you to attack and are usually not easily drawn into attacking an opening. If you also prefer to counterattack, then both you and your opponent will be moving around a lot with little action taking place. You need to draw an attack in some way so you will have the opportunity to counterattack. To draw a counter fighter, you attack first, while knowing where the counter fighter will probably counterattack and what target he or she will expose during the attack. Then you block the counterattack and counterattack yourself. Be careful since counter attackers usually counter with multiple attacks.
- Fighters tend to trade techniques, kick for kick, or punch for punch. To draw a front kick, fake a front kick. To draw a punch, attack with punches.
- To draw a side kick to midsection, slouch, stand perpendicular to opponent, and keep elbow high.
- To draw a round kick, work in circles or stay off-center to opponent.
- To draw a high kick, stay in close and carry arms low.
- To draw punches, keep body square to opponent.
- To draw a back fist, stand tall, stand perpendicular to opponent, and lower the guard.Cocking. Cocking is pulling an arm back to make it appear you are preparing to attack.Use Sounds. If you make low frequency, growling sounds, it tends to make the opponent crouch, draw inward, and become defensive. The opponent's instincts tell him or her that an attack is imminent. If you make high frequency sounds, the opponent tends to stand more upright and be more alert. His or her instincts interpret the sounds as a warning that an enemy is near.
My instructor, Master Michael Deese, is a master of using subtle movements and expressions to sucker opponents into reacting to the movements in ways that will expose themselves to attacks. He is impossible to "read." Most opponents are not even aware of the movements and that they are reacting to them. I tell students that, when they spar with him, they should keep their guard up and not try to block. If they block an anticipated attack, it will always be the wrong block and they will get hit by the real attack 100% of the time. If they keep their guard up to protect vital areas, then they will at least have a chance of protecting those areas, although they may get hit elsewhere.
Frame shifting is a type of feint; it is a way of distorting your opponent's perception. First, you create a frame. Raise your arms as you would if a robber said "Raise your hands, this is stick-up!" Move both arms inward until they are just outside of a shoulder width apart, with hands open and fingers extended. The arms now act as your guard and also create a "visual frame" that your opponent must look though to see you, and that you must look through to see the opponent. Mentally, this frame acts as does the frame of a painting; you see the painting but tend to ignore the frame.
Once the frame is established, you may manipulate it to deceive your opponent. As your opponent punches, instead of blocking the punch, quickly jerk both sides of the frame laterally a few inches. The tendency is for the opponent to reference the trajectory of the punch to the sides of the frame instead of at the picture (your face, the target) inside the frame. When the frame is shifted, the tendency is for the opponent to keep the punch referenced between the sides of the frame, even though your face is no longer within the frame. This cause the punch to miss its target without you ever touching the opponent's arm.
You may shift the picture (your face) while keeping the frame motionless. If the frame remains still, the punchers reference will be maintained even though you have ducked your face out of the picture.
You may also shift both the frame and picture. If you shift the frame in one direction and the picture in the opposite direction, you may decrease the accuracy of the punch even more.
A fake is an uncompleted attack; the attack appears real except that it is not completed. A fake is some motion made toward the opponent to cause the opponent to react to the movement in anticipation of an attack. For example, "I will fake Joe into believing I intend to kick by using a fake round kick." There is a big difference between a fake and combination even though the uninformed may think they are the same thing.
- Combination. A combination is two or more complete attacks. Each attack is real and uses full power. Each attack is meant to score or injure and probably will, if not blocked or avoided.
- Fake. A fake is one or more incomplete attacks that precede the real attack. A fake is not meant to score or injure. If not blocked or avoided, a fake will probably not score nor injure even if it makes contact since there is no power behind the technique.
How to Fake
A fake is done in half the time it takes to do a regular attack. Known as “moving on the half count,” this enables you to disrupt your opponent’s rhythm. However, if there is too great a time gap between your fake and your real attack, it the attack may be blocked or countered. A fake has all the appearance of a real attack. The only difference between a fake and real attack is the focus point. A real attack is focused at a point on the surface or just below the surface of a target on the opponent's body. A fake is focused on some point in space in the gap between you and your opponent. For example, fake a high reverse punch by pivoting the shoulder and hips through the center line toward the opponent. As opponent reacts, hook to the ribs with the lead hand. Other fakes include:
- Fake a lead jab to the chin and then drive a lead punch to the body.
- Fake a lead jab to the body and then step in with a jab to the chin.
- Fake a lead jab to the chin, feign a right to the chin, and then step in with a lead jab to the chin.
- Fake a straight reverse punch to the chin, and then hook the lead hand to the chin or body.
- Fake a jab to the chin, and then upset punch to the body with the rear hand.
- Fake a jab, and then step forward and with a lead hook to the chin.
A knock-away is type of fake. It is used to either knocks-away an opponent's guard to create an opening for you to attack or it is a counterattack you use after your attack has been knocked-away by an opponent.
Perform a knock-away. Start your attack as you normally would, except, instead of attacking, use the attack to knock down the opponent's guard to create an opening, and then attack the opening. You may also use both hands to knock down the opponent's guard, similar to climbing motion, and then attack over the guard. You may also attack under the guard after it is knocked down. For example, use the leading arm to knock down the opponent's guard, and, just as the opponent is bringing the guard back up, perform a side thrust kick under the guard.
Perform a counterattack after a knock-away. Perform an attack, such as a jab, slightly slower than usual so the opponent is able to block it and knock it away. Then, instead of retracting the jab, snap it into another attack. The entire motion of the technique is planned, the jab is not intended to connect, but it should appear as such to the opponent.
Tips on Faking and Feigning
- Practice in front of a mirror.
- Movements must be precise and rapid.
- Reactions produced in the opponent should be expected.
- Vary the fakes and feints. Do not use the same ones more than twice in succession.
- Make the fake or feint convincing. Use the eyes, facial expressions, body, hands, fingers, feet, and legs to produce the desired reaction.
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