Analyzing Opponents,
By Alex Fast

Usually, when someone wants to analyze their opponent, they choose to do it, either when they are on the floor, or when they are up fighting. Not many people choose to do it ahead of time. What I mean is that, rather than analyzing them on the floor, it is much easier to do it when they are up doing their Kata.

Simply by observing the way that they move in the sequences of the Kata, you can tell how they fight, and appropriately equip themselves ahead of time. For instance, if the person is supposed to go into a deep stance (possibly in Kushanku), there is an advantage to tell you how flexible the opponent is, and possibly how well their kicking ability is. If they have a hard time getting down into these stances, then it is most likely that they are not usually one to kick. You would be able to attune yourself accordingly. Likewise, if the opponent is able to drop down into this stance with a great deal of ease, then you know that they are probably very capable of kicking.

Another way of analyzing the opponent through their Kata is how they move, if they have a monotone pattern, or a large fluctuation in the pattern of the Kata. Usually if the opponent has a monotone pattern, then they will be easy to time. They would most likely not use off-speed timing what so ever, making it easy to catch them between movements. They would probably use the same movement over and over. An example of this is that they might use one kick, over, and over again. If so, you could time them and strike when they are in transition.

If the opponent has a large fluctuation in the way they do their Kata, then they would be a harder opponent to compete against. They would be a lot harder to track and score on. You could expect some off-speed timing, because then, they would be very capable of using such techniques. They would probably be very agile with their techniques. Along with that, in order to find out whether this opponent is a deceiving fighter, simply look at how their sequences flow. If the person stays mainly one height when going through the movements, then they will probably be able to hide their techniques rather well. If the person is bouncing up and down, then you can know that it will be easier to see that they won't be able to hide techniques as well.

Other ways in keying in on how a person will fight is in the way that they time their hands and feet together in the Kata. If their timing is very off, and the feet are faster than the hands, then you should realize that they are probably a kicker and have a slower upper body, when it comes to sparring. If you notice the exact opposite and their hands are faster than their feet, then you should know that they probably use more punches, and are slower with their kicks. This could allow you to have more room to move around.

Another point is that if the person stays with his chest square when he is doing Kata. It is most likely that this will also branch off into his Kumite. It will be easier to score on him because there will be a larger area to focus in on. However, if the person applies too much hip into his techniques, then the best defense would be to spin his sparring techniques. It would be easier to do this than to try to catch him in the stomach, or in the chest.

To go along with that last point, you should watch for how they block. They can either overextend or block too short. If they overextend, this tells you that when you throw a technique, they will most likely throw out their block too far. This will leave them open, making it more difficult for them to get back in order to block your next technique. If they stop too short then you have an easy opening to them, wherever it may be.

There are other ways to assess your opponent's fighting style. This is by examining what their body type is. If the challenger is a tall person, he will use his reach to his advantage, using kicks and long punches. If he is a shorter person, then he will either try and get inside, in order to score, or he will probe you with kicks and punches, in order to get you to attack, so that he will counter your techniques. If the person has a large upper body, he is most likely a puncher. He is most likely one to attack, leading mainly with punches. If his lower body is larger, then he will probably use kicks to gain points, from the outside, and if/when he makes an opening, he will come in with punches.

There are many ways to assess your opponents, I have just named a few. I hope that these pointers will aid you the next time you are at a tournament. These points will give you an edge on all of your opponents, and I hope that they will help you in further competitions.

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