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How to win a fight (part III)

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Dealing with the gap

"The battlefield is a scene of constant chaos. The winner will be the one who controls that chaos, both his own and the enemies."
-Napoleon Bonaparte

Learning how to fight is not the same as promoting belligerent, anti-social behavior. We live in an exceedingly violent society. Our films, books, TV shows, and video games glorify mayhem and carnage. Our leaders (sic) solve most of their problems through aggression...or the threat thereof. While talk of non-violence is understandable and the struggle for peace has never been more essential, let's face it: The odds are that sooner or later you're going to end up in a confrontation that may escalate into physical violence. So, why not be prepared?

But what if you've been preparing and you've cultivated speed, power, endurance, and accuracy...but you can't get from point A to point B? Fast kicks and powerful punches can be rendered useless if you can't bridge the gap between yourself and your opponent(s). Footwork is what gets you there (and back). The ability to "explode" from your on-guard stance just may the most important physical skill you can learn as a fighter.

In conjunction with effectual footwork comes the ability to strike while in motion. Once you've gotten from point A to point B, you must be able to exploit that accomplishment by landing a blow and getting out before you are hit with a counter. While punching in motion is certainly easier than kicking in motion, both faculties require intense practice and study. The first step to effective footwork is analyzing your on-guard stance.

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Bruce Lee sez: "Do not be tense, just be ready, not thinking but not dreaming, not being set but being flexible. It is being 'wholly' and quietly alive, aware and alert, ready for whatever may come."

MISTAKES TO AVOID
•Too much weight on either foot-you must distribute your weight evenly or else your mobility will be severely hampered.
•Improper distance between your feet-if your stance is too wide, mobility becomes difficult and it is nearly impossible to strike without telegraphing it. If you are too close, all spring action is eliminated.
•Stance too square-standing in a straight-on position can make you an easy mark for a leg sweep and will not allow for any quick movements backward.
•Improper hand position-If your hands are too high, the lower torso is exposed. Too low and the face becomes an easier target. Keeping your hands too close to your body can invite your opponent to violate your space without opposition. Finally, if you overextend your arms, you limit your striking power.

SOME TIPS
•Your lead shoulder should be slightly raised to meet your chin (which should be slightly lowered).
•Use your forearms and elbows to protect your mid-section.
•Knees are bent at a subtle angle with your heels ever-so-slightly raised to assume a "coiled" position, ready to strike.

Bruce Lee sez: "Like the cobra, your strike should be felt before it is seen."

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Once your stance has been honed and refined to your own individual needs, the crucial concept of footwork can begin to take shape. Polished footwork skills (growing out of a secure on-guard stance) will enable to move quickly in any direction and, most importantly, it will empower you with the ability to hit without getting hit yourself.

Napoleon Bonaparte sez: "If you start to take Vienna, take Vienna."

To make such a quick and successful advance on your opponent, it is first necessary to make a commitment. Thus, you must attack wholeheartedly or you will become vulnerable to a counterattack and to propel yourself forward "wholeheartedly" involves the shuffling of your feet followed by an explosive push-off. Clearly, this is not a simple case of hurtling oneself in the general direction of one's opponent; rather, you are simultaneously gauging distance, monitoring patterns, and discerning openings until the time is right to bridge the gap explosively and without reservation.

Mickey Z. sez:

the shortest distance
between this point and that point
is simplicity


Mickey Z. is the author of several books, most recently 50 American Revolutions You're Not Supposed to Know (Disinformation Books). He can be found on the Web at http://www.mickeyz.net.
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Mickey Z. can be found on the Web at http://www.mickeyz.net.

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