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Every fighters biggest problem!

Q: What is every fighters biggest problem?

A: Closing the Gap.

Closing the gap means decreasing the distance between you and your opponent so that you can deliver an effective strike. Keep in mind that you want to make sure you don’t get hit either. Now see the problem? This problem exists in both the ring and the street. It is not good enough just practising strikes because when you try to use them you may find that your opponent is out of range. You may also find that every time you try to get within range you are getting hit. So, what do you do? There are several methods to incorporate into your training, which will help your distance control, no matter what size you are.

1) Footwork. You can’t walk into an opponent head first and expect not to get hurt. At least not if your opponent has any experience. You need to have a good stance and guard but most importantly you need good footwork. Be on the balls of your feet because when you are flat footed, it is easier to get knocked out. Don’t approach an opponent with all your targets showing. You are better off moving forward in a slightly side on position. Front cross and rear cross overs can be effective footwork methods when combined with strikes. For those of you that don’t know what these are, imagine skipping towards your opponent in a side ways stance while striking too. Don’t be afraid to invent your own footwork. If you have a partner to practise with then great. If you don’t, then simply pick a target and see how fast you can reach it without leaving yourself too open. As you get better, you can increase the distance.

2) Extension. Extend your strikes so that you they have extra depth. Most of us when we practise, we strike things that are too close to us. Stand a bit further away from your targets and see if you can add a few inches to your strikes. Use your hips and shoulders. Make sure that you don’t over extend because if you miss a strike you need to be able to recover quickly or else your opponent has a good chance to knock you out.

3) Kicks. Your legs are your longest limbs. You can reach somebody with a kick even when you are outside hand range. The fact that your legs are also the strongest muscles in your body is good news too. You can use low kicks to keep an opponent away from you or you can use your kicks to help you to get in so that you can then use your hands.

4) Jumping. Put a spring in your step! Jump high as if you were trying to land on top of your opponent. Use your strikes to reign blows down on him/her. This method freaks out most opponents and if they try to block, simply strike a body part that they leave uncovered. Make sure to use all of your bodyweight by striking as you are landing too. Jump long from far away and try to cover the distance fast. Use your strikes as you move. There are several different types of jumps that you can use so don’t be afraid to experiment and find out ones that you like.

Bounce in and keep low to the floor. You won’t get as much air or power as a jump but you can generally cover the distance faster with a low bounce. Add any or all of these methods to your training and you will notice the difference when you are fighting/sparring. There is no better feeling then knowing that you can strike an opponent at will and not get hit back. Closing the gap is the trick..but don’t tell anyone!

By Robert Devane

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