The ideal range for sparring is where just out of range of a lead leg kick by your opponent. This means for opponent to kick or punch you, he or she must move his or her body toward you (or get you to move closer). This range gives you more time to react to an attack, but it also means you are also probably out of kicking and punching range for your attacks. To get with range, you must learn to lunge.
When sparring, time is critical. The more time it takes you to move, the more time the opponent as to react to the movement. You must learn to move not only quickly, but to be able to block or attack effectively while moving.
Stepping is slow; stepping forward with the rear leg is very slow, just as rear leg kicks are much slower than lead leg kicks. Stepping with the lead leg is quicker than stepping with the rear leg, but it is still relatively slow. For example, from a standard fighting stance, to step with the lead leg to bridge the gap and reverse punch the opponent’s head, you first lift the front foot, then you step it forward as you push off the rear leg and shift your weight forward into the reverse punch. This is a lot of movement (four distinct movements)so it takes lots of time to complete and gives the opponent time to react. The opponent sees the front foot lift and know something is about to happen. When the front foot begins its step, the opponent now knows a step is happening and an attack will probably follow. It mind reacts quickly to movement.
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