To be an effective fighter, you must take advantage of openings caused by your opponent’s weaknesses or mistakes. Both mental and physical mistakes cause openings.
- Weaknesses in the guard.
- Mistakes in attacks or defenses.
- Failure to keep up with pace of the fight.
You may cause your opponent to make physical mistakes by:
- Using continuous attacks that overpower or overload the ability of opponent to defend against them.
- Using blocks to break opponent’s concentration and then immediately attacking.
- Attacking when opponent is at a disadvantage.
- Making wrong attack.
- Misreading a feint and overreacting to it.
- Relaxing your guard because you think your opponent is also relaxing.
- Being distracted or anticipating your opponent’s actions or reactions.
- Worrying about opponent’s intentions.
You may cause mental openings in your opponent by:
- Enticing opponent to make an unachievable attack.
- Distracting opponent by using a feint.
- Causing opponent to relax momentarily by making him or her think you are not ready to attack.
- Keeping opponent on defense.
- Creating doubt or concern for safety.
Common sparring mistakes that beginners make
Sparring people with the same skill level as yourself all the time. If you do this, you will not reach a higher skill level. You need periodically to test yourself by competing against someone who may put pressure on you. Sparring people of the same skill level will give you a false sense of security and make you complacent and too relaxed. Then, when you have to step it up a notch, you get stressed and find nothing seems to work. You do not improve by doing things you can already do; you improve by trying to do things you cannot currently do.
Ignoring good hits. During a training class, how many times have you sparred someone and caught him or her with a perfectly focused and controlled hit, and he or she keep coming at you, punching and kicking as if nothing happened. They do not appreciate the hit they just took; they do not realize that the hit could have hurt them had it not been so well controlled. If you get used to ignoring good hits, you will get hurt when sparring a better fighter than yourself that has less than perfect control.
Avoiding sparring with instructor. Some students think that sparring their instructor is counterproductive. They think they will not learn anything and that they will just be a live punching bag for the instructor to practice on. However, sparring your instructor is like getting one-on-one instruction. Your instructor will not hurt you or embarrass you, but, on the other hand, he or she will not show you any mercy. The instructor will test you, find your weaknesses, show you where the weaknesses lie, and tell you how you can fix the problems.
Lower ranks consistently make the same mistakes. The most common penalties assessed against color belts are pushing, grabbing, and holding. To avoid these penalties, just keep the hands in tight fists. Tight fists cannot grab or hold and, if you do push, it looks more like a punch.
Low kicks. Another common warning in colored belt competition is for low kicks. This is a result of poor training. Most low kicks are the result of poor chambering. A tight high chamber will prevent low kicks and it is also a good fighting technique since the opponent does not know what type of kick is coming, it could be either a side, round, heel, or hook kick.
Always make new mistakes, not repeats!
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