- Sparring Strategies
- Sparring and Chess
- Fighter classifications
- Combination Fighter
- Counter Fighters
- Shorter Opponent
- Taller Opponent
- Out of Control Opponents
- Bob and Weaver
- Persistent Jabber
- Aggressive Opponent
- Wait and Counter Fighter
- Very Fast Opponent
- Lightweight vs. Heavyweight Opponents
- Total Package Opponents
- Strategies to use if you are a lead fighter
- Strategies if you are a counter fighter
- All Pages
A strategy is a long-term plan to deal with a situation, such as how to deal with a taller or shorter opponent. A tactic is an immediate action used to carry out a strategy, such as a punch or kick. You should have a sparring strategy so you will ready for any type of opponent.
Sparring and Chess
Free-sparring is similar to playing chess. Beginners at chess think about their next move before they make it, but then they lose most of the time. Experienced players think about their next move and their opponent's probable next move before they make their move. They win more often. Master players think about their next three or four moves and their opponent's probable responses to the moves. They win a lot.
In free-sparring, if you want to win a lot, you must plan your techniques many moves ahead and anticipate your opponent's responses to the techniques. Every attack involves a "sequence of consequences" that once initiated, run their course. To anticipate the final outcome of your attack, you need to know how your opponent will react to each of your movements. Thus, all your movements need to be precise, continuous, and pre-calculated.
- Defensive fighters wait for an attack and then after blocking, evading, or absorbing the attack, they counterattack. This type of fighting helps them overcome offensive fighters. Since defensive fighters wait for an attack, they stand around a lot waiting for their opponent to attack.
- Offensive fighters are always on the attack. They may overcome trap fighters by seeming to fall for a trap, and then counterattacking. They may overcome defensive fighters by using blitz attacks, using so many techniques and attacks that the defender is overcome.
- Trap fighters lure opponents into a trap. They may overcome defensive fighters by luring them into blocking a single technique and then attacking them with a combination. Trap fighters lure offensive fighters into attacking seemly open targets and then they counterattack. Since trap fighters try to draw an attack, they also stand around a lot waiting for their opponent to attack.
Different sparring strategies are used depending on your sparring style and the sparring style of your opponent. In Taekwondo sparring, the emphasis is usually on using kicking techniques, but there are other sparring styles that may be encountered.
The kicker is the most encountered sparring style in Taekwondo competition. The kicker stays at long range and uses mostly kicks as attacks.
If you are also a kicker, then the match is similar to the gunfight of the Old West. Both opponents stand apart and both draw at will. The first to draw and hit the target wins. This means you must be faster on the draw than your opponent. Your kicks must be quicker and more accurate than your opponent's kicks. If your opponent draws first, then you must block or avoid and then counter kick. During clashes, keep your leg over the opponent's leg so you are in scoring position and the opponent is in a position that may draw a foul for a low kick. When attacking, use double or triple kicks and kicking combinations. If you are also a kicker, then the match is similar to the gunfight of the Old West. Both opponents stand apart and both draw at will. The first to draw and hit the target wins. This means you must be faster on the draw than your opponent. Your kicks must be quicker and more accurate than your opponent's kicks. If your opponent draws first, then you must block or avoid and then counter kick. During clashes, keep your leg over the opponent's leg so you are in scoring position and the opponent is in a position that may draw a foul for a low kick. When attacking, use double or triple kicks and kicking combinations.
To fight a kicker:
- If you are a puncher, you must fight at close range. If you fight from a middle or long range, you are merely a target. The kicker may score on you but you may not score on the kicker.
- Crowd the kicker and stay inside the kicks so they are ineffective.
- Keep the kicker backing up so he or she can never gets set up for a kick. By crowding the kicker, you eliminate his or her kicks and force the opponent to fight with the hands.
- Most kickers are usually tall, which means long legs and long arms. If you get inside, it is difficult for a long armed opponent to strike you, especially with any power.
- Inside fighting is very strenuous, so you must be in good physical condition.
The puncher spars similar to a boxer. Punchers:
- Stay in close and use mostly hand attacks. Stay in close and use mostly hand attacks.
- Only use kicks to keep the opponent aware of them or to set up for a hand attack.
- Like to stand their ground. They will take shots if it means they may get inside and give more shots.
- Tend to be big and strong; they can take a lot of punishment and they love to give punishment.
- Use strong, powerful, short-range attacks like reverse punches, elbow and knee strikes, and hook or uppercut punches.
- Do not get pushed around easily. Many will stand in a rooted stance, using their base for powerful strikes. If they do move at all, it is not very quickly and not very far, maybe only a step in any direction. Punchers usually move laterally so they can keep their weapons on target.
- Grappling punchers will attempt to gain the mount position early so they can start pounding their opponent.
To fight a puncher:
- Keep moving, do not allow your opponent to get set.
- Launch unexpected attacks.
- Do not exchange punches move away immediately.
- Circle the ring in both directions.
- If you are a kicker, you must try to extend the range and stay outside the punchers reach. Nail them with a side kick every time they try to get close. Do not move backward to extend the range, move in circles toward the outside of the lead hand. Do not kick from the same angle all the time.
- If you are also a puncher, you must be quicker in the quantity and quality of your punches. You must bob and weave to avoid getting hit. Use periodic kicks to keep opponent aware of them. Watch out for kicks from your opponent.
Many fighters use a combination of kicking and punching. This makes them the greatest threat. Combo fighters vary their range and tend to use combinations. Many combo fighters will still specialize in either kicking or punching.
To fight a combination fighter:
- If you are a kicker, stay outside, away from punches and use angular kicks and fake kicks. Watch for kick/punch combinations and use counter attacks.
- If you are a puncher, stay inside of kicks and use fading jump kicks (kicks where you jump backward to increase range as you kick).
Counter fighters wait for their opponents to attack, and then they block the attack and quickly follow-up with their own attack. Counter fighters:
- Rarely initiate an attack; they anticipate attacks by reading the opponent's style.
- Make opponents attack the way they want by baiting or using feints. Once opponent launches the attack, the counter fighter relies on intuition, timing, and power to block the attack and to move in with an attack.
- Are adept at slipping, parrying, or evading blows so they can move in with their attacks.
- Attacks are often circular, to get around an incoming technique. Watch out for high roundhouse or hook kicks. The quick ones use linear techniques, such as sliding a side kick past a chambered leg.
- Even though they use a lot of evasive movements, they do not move very far.
To fight a counter fighter:
- If you are a kicker, fake angular kicks and nail the counter fighter with a straight-in kick as he or she moves in with a counterattack.
- If you are puncher, fake an attack, block the counterattack, and then counterattack. Keep opponent under pressure and off balance. If you are puncher, fake an attack, block the counterattack, and then counterattack. Keep opponent under pressure and off balance.
Snipers take shots from a long range. Snipers:
- Are often mistaken for runners, until they land a big shot on you from long-range.
- Will evade attacks rather than block, and you will often find yourself chasing them around the ring. However, a sniper's goal is not to survive by evading you, but to take you out with long-range attacks. Tall runners who grow confident with their skills often become snipers.
- Usually have a reach advantage over their opponents.
- Throw fast, long-range, effective techniques that take advantage of their reach. Punchers throw a lot of jabs, while kickers will use high front and side kicks. These techniques are usually linear to reach their target quickly while it is still within range.
- Backpedal a lot, but will also use side-to-side movement at the limit of your effective range.
To fight a sniper:
- You must crowd snipers. Stay on them like white on rice. Longer arms and legs are not as effective at close range.
Fakers use lots or fakes. Fakers: Fakers are difficult to fight. They fake a kick or punch to draw off your guard and then kick or punch to the opening. You never know whether the first attack is real or fake. If you assume fake, it may be real and get you. If you assume real, it may draw your guard and then the follow-up technique gets you.
Another version of the faker is the opponent who fakes injury when you score in an attempt to get you awarded a foul. If they do it too much, the referee will get wise to it. Use precise control when fighting this type of faker so you will not be awarded fouls even if the faker claims injury.
To fight a faker:
- If you are a kicker, get off first and beat your opponent with speed. Use combinations and do not let the faker throw off your timing.
- If you are a puncher, maintain a tight guard and do not overreact to attacks. Wait a split second after a possible fake for the follow-up attack to finish before countering.
Shorter opponents are often aggressive to make up for their height. Those with slight builds may be very quick. Shorter opponents tend to rush in with a combination attack and then rush back out of range.
To fight a shorter opponent:
- Take advantage of your height and reach. Shorter opponents cannot effectively block kicks from taller and heavier persons; they have to evade, so use kicks to score where you think they will be, not where they are.
- It is easier for you to punch or kick a shorter opponent's head and more difficult for him or her to punch or kick your head so keep the opponent worrying about his or her head.
- It is more difficult for you to punch the opponent's body and easy for him or her to punch your body so use you longer kicks to keep the opponent at bay.
- Push your kicks through a smaller opponent's defense and knock him or her off balance, and then use a follow-up technique.
- The opponent may be quicker than you, so "man handle" them and keep them on the defensive.
- Keep smaller opponents away since they will try to get close and inside your reach. Punch or use push kicks to make room.
- Use headshots since they are easier against a shorter opponent.
- Punching to body is difficult since you must punch downward, so use kicks, especially the axe kick.
- Use a lot of cut kicks and fakes.
The basic strategy is to keep your distance. When opponent comes in, cut him or her off with a linear kick, move to the side, and attack. When you cut opponent off, he or she may not stop attacking so move out of the way and then attack with a round kick. When you side step, keep the range that is best for your counter. If you are quick enough, you can cut an opponent off with an axe, back kick, or a high roundhouse while jumping backward.
Taller opponents have a long reach with both arms and legs. They like to fight from long range.
To fight a taller opponent:
- Use close range fighting; it makes it difficult for taller opponents to extend their kicks fully. Or, stay outside their range, suddenly close the range and attack with quick combinations, and quickly retreat, similar to the Mohammad Ali's "float like a butterfly, sting like a bee" fight strategy.
- It is easier for your taller opponent to punch or kick your head, so keep it guarded. It is difficult for you to punch or kick the taller opponent's head, so do not do it unless there is a clear opening that does not leave you vulnerable. When kicking a taller opponent, it is easy for your kick to go under the opponent's kick and draw you a warning.
- It is more difficult for your taller opponent to punch to your body since he or she must punch downward through your guard so stay in close, however, it is easier for him or her to kick your body so stay out or range or in close.
- Use spin kicks, they are more difficult predict and counter and, when there is a counter, it may strike your back in a foul area.
- Do not trade kicks, since their legs have greater range.
- Attack carefully; do not walk into kicks. Keep moving to both sides.
- Attack body.
- Draw an attack and slip inside.
- When inside, attack head.
- Keep your hands up, protect your face and torso, and do not give opponent an opening.
- If you are a good kicker and opponent is not, then you can kick while opponent flails away with his or her hands, forcing him or her to commit forward so much that you can fight from the inside. From the inside, you can use your power and leverage.
- If contact to the legs is allowed, low kick hard to the legs and lean away from opponent's punches.
- Do not stand inside too long and get pounded. Slip around and back outside.
- Use an overhand punch. This is a well-covered punch that can reach a taller fighter.
- Do not use an uppercut, unless his or her head is at your level.
- Circle larger opponents and attack from angles
- Sidestep a lot. Make him or her throw a kick that misses you and then counterattack. The longer the legs, the harder it is to recover for a second attack after the first misses.
- If you are in the opponent's high attack range, fake, and then move inside.
Out of Control Opponents
The referee should control this type of fighter so you should be aggressive but maintain your own control. Being out of control means they are not thinking when they fight.
To fight an out of control opponent:
- Do not fight your opponent's fight; you cannot fight fire with fire, you need to use water. Use your opponent's own aggression, anger, and violence against him or her.
- Evade attacks instead of resisting them, let the opponent tire, and counter when you see opportunities. Evade attacks instead of resisting them, let the opponent tire, and counter when you see opportunities.
Bob and Weaver
Bob and weavers are constantly moving their upper body and head.
To fight a bob and weaver:
- Do not attack weavers on a straight line. Side step and attack straight to the sides.
- Attack where the target will be, not where it is, because the target will not be there when your attack reaches where it was.
Runners are elusive, evasive fighters who do not like to get hit. They are usually not confident in their abilities and do not want to mix it up.
To fight a runner:
- When you move in for an attack, they usually backpedal. Counter punchers also do this but they will spring back in with their own attack, while runners will keep running away.
- Runners are typically slight of build, so they run fast.
- Runners do not attack much, but when they do, it is typically a long-range attack.
- Runners often throw techniques while moving backward, so their techniques tend to be weak.
- Some runners let you chase them around until you get tired and then they come in for an easy win, or you get frustrated chasing them and over commit on a technique and they take you down.
- Runners use the whole ring and run out of bounds a lot.
- If you have the endurance, run them down and make them look foolish.
- You can stand your ground and make them come to you, where you can nail them.
Jabber jab all the time in an effort to keep you away from them.
To fight a jabber:
- Keep pressure on your opponent.
- Weave to either side and slip under the jab, keeping your body low.
- After forcing your way under the jab, attack the body. After forcing your way under the jab, attack the body.
Southpaw (left handed) fighters may throw off your game if you are not used to fighter them.
To fight a southpaw:
- Force opponent to attack.
- Circle left to the blind side away from the opposing left arm and leg.
- Use right hand to the head or body.
- Do not neglect the left hook over the southpaw's right shoulder. Do not neglect the left hook over the southpaw's right shoulder.
Aggressive fighters love to attack.
To fight an aggressive opponent:
- Let him or her attack for a while, but keep sidestepping or clinching.
- You may also counter immediately after the sidestep, and then clinch.
- Use reverse punch to knock him or her off balance.
- Keep opponent wasting his or her energy and losing points.
- Use lots of fakes to keep opponent paranoid and moving.
- An opponent who kicks too much is often standing on one leg. Knock him or her off balance with a linear kick and counter while he or she is attacking.
- Remember, the majority of points are from countering.
Blitzers rush in aggressively throwing dozens of punches and kicks. Blitzers are often punchers who are too impatient to wait for opponents to come in. Similar to punchers, blitzers tend to be big and strong, except they are very fast. They throw every technique known, trying to intimidate or drive the opponent out of the ring. If you are surprised by the speed and intensity of a blitz, you will not be able to block effectively or mount your own attack. Blitzing looks exciting and may impress judges.
To fight a blitzer:
- When the blitzers attack, quickly side step the attack, similar to a bullfighter, and nail them as they pass by.
- Make them look clumsy so they do not impress anyone. Make them look clumsy so they do not impress anyone
Wait and Counter Fighter
This type of fighter is usually the smartest.
To fight a wait and counter fighter:
- The main thing you do not want to do is to attack aggressively with carelessness. Again, fakes are the key.
- When they wait and counter, you want to make your fakes very convincing, so they believe it is coming.
- When executing a feint, be ready for counters. Once he or she misses with the counter, use his or her own technique against him or her.
Very Fast Opponent
Fast opponent are difficult to fight since you sometimes do not see what hit you.
To fight a fast opponent:
- You definitely do not want to have a speed contest. You will just end up being outscored.
- You want to attack when opponent's leg is in the air. The time it takes to put the leg down and attack a second time should be about the same or longer than the time it takes for you to throw your attack. You need to make opponent throw the kick to throw yours. Use sidesteps and fakes to avoid the kick.
- Do not just wait and get beat. You will only score if you attack. Do not just wait and get beat. You will only score if you attack.
Lightweight vs. Heavyweight Opponents
Each wants what the other has. Lightweight fighters tend to have good skills, mobility, speed, and endurance. This is partially due to the circulatory system, which has to work harder to circulate oxygen in the heavier person. Thus, heavier fighters are generally less conditioned. Although they may be fast for their size, they rely mostly on their reach and power and are often not as conditioned enough in the abs and lower back to allow for crisp, quick footwork, body angling, head movement, etc.
If you take a lighter person and give him or her a classic heavyweight characteristic such as power, you get a Roberto (Hands of Stone) Duran. He had the quickness of a lightweight plus the knockout power of a heavyweight. If you take a heavier fighter and give him the skills, mobility, speed, and conditioning of a lightweight, you get a Muhammad Ali, a powerful puncher with the quickness of a lightweight.
Total Package Opponents
All-around fighters are the worst opponents to face. With abilities of each of the previous styles under their command, they may change styles to fit the circumstances. They do very little but when they do, it is a point. They pick off everything you throw and they only attack openings. Since they do not waste energy attacking air, they are just as strong at the end of a round as at the start. If you face this type of fighter and you are not one yourself, pray for a miracle.
Strategies to use if you are a lead fighter
If you are a lead fighter, you should not attack a strong position. You should first weaken your opponent’s position with a fake or deceptive action to make him or her pause. That will create an opening, and the hesitation may enable you to score. Remember that when you attack, you must make your opponent hesitate.
- Indirect Angular Attack. This strategy is used against a person who stands ground and blocks. It involves a fake of angle. For example: move into the range of your opponent with a low and follow with a high strike or with a high fake and a low strike. These two combinations are among the most common indirect angular attacks.
- Broken-Rhythm Attack. This strategy is used against a person who is a counter fighter who counterattacks every time you attack. You need to draw the counter and then strike while the weapon is returning from the missed counter. For example: you know your opponent will try to counter punch, so move into range to draw the punch and then move out of range when opponent delivers it. This action causes opponent to miss and allows you to score while opponent is out of position.
- Immobilization Attack. This strategy is used against a runner or a person who is always moving. This is the most sophisticated of the three lead-fighter strategies. There are many ways to stop a person from moving away from you. One is to reverse your direction and move away from opponent to draw him or her toward you. Or, you may immobilize opponent by grabbing or by obstructing a leg with a check or sweep. To be successful, immobilization attacks must include distance, angle, and attitude. For example:, lunge in, grab sleeve, pull off-balance, and counter punch the body with a load kiai.
Strategies if you are a counter fighter
If you are a counter fighter, you want your opponent to attack you. By exposing an area of your body to seem vulnerable, you encourage opponent to attack that area. Sometimes called baiting, this approach may weaken opponent's position by allowing you to know where the opponent will probably attack. A skilled counter fighter causes the opponent to use a specific weapon at a specific time to a specific target. Remember that when you are attacked, you must first make your opponent miss.
- Redirect Attack. This strategy focuses on redirecting your opponent’s energy by either moving his or her weapon off the line of attack using a parry or by moving yourself off the line of attack using a slip, or by using both methods. For example; example, lure your opponent into attempting a punch toward your head, slip it by moving off-line, and the counter to the body.
- Interrupt Attack. This attack interrupts your opponent’s energy by putting a greater amount of energy in direct opposition to it, using a stop-hit technique. For example: as attacker uses a lunging reverse punch delivered with the rear hand, you move into the line of attack and execute a defensive side kick to stop his or her forward movement.
- Absorb Attack. This strategy involves absorbing your opponent’s energy. You do that by using what is called a “target fade,” which refers to using a non-vital part of your body as a shield. For example: as the opponent throws a kick at your body, you fade away from the attack just far enough so the kick touches your shielding arm and then move out of the line of attack using a counter spinning back fist strike.
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