When do you fire?

Sparring tips…By Sensei Neil Prime.

There is a typical question that is commonly asked: "When do you fire a technique at your opponent?"

There are 3 basic rules that I like to try to follow when I spar, and although nothing is fool proof I like to calculate the odds in my favour. After all, who wants the other guy to have the advantage?

  1. Always fire when being fired at.
  2. Your punch or kick is extends further than a block, so doesn’t it make sense to get it out there? If you must block (as a last resort) your counter attack must be immediate. If you hesitate for a fraction of a second you could lose an opportunity against a good fighter. If you must block, try not to think of the block but of the opening that it will create. A good counter fighter can do this.

  3. Create an opening by firing at multiple ranges, and then fire the one that counts.
  4. Better known as using combination techniques. If you utilize a good range of high and low techniques when you put a combination of techniques together generally your opponent will get caught trying to block (hence don’t block, fire). If your techniques are deep enough for your opponent to react to then an opening will be created. If all your techniques are deep enough to score, chances are you should be successful. You can have a pre-determined attack (generally easier) or simply fire techniques in reaction to your opponent (generally more practice is required). Either way, if your opponent is thinking about blocking, generally they won’t be thinking as much about firing back. This is a good thing for you!

  5. Create an opening with body movement and footwork.

Once again this is a matter of controlling the fight. If your opponent is following you then you should have the upper hand when it comes time to attack. This is because your opponent can generally not react fast enough if you have full commitment on your techniques. Act or react, what do you prefer? Act tells me that I am the leader and react is the follower. Even if you choose to react it must be pre-determined.

Taking this principle #3 a little further, try this little deceptive strategy the next time you spar. It is quite simple with a little bit of practice. For ease of For ease of explanation I will describe this to you as though both opponents are set in a left foot forward stance. It can and should be altered for different situations.

Get your opponent to follow you in a circular motion by moving towards your left (their backside) and then to your right (to their frontside). Most defensive fighters will try to follow you.

Take them around to the left a fair distance (about 90 degrees or better) then switch back to the right direction. The difference this time is when you change direction you should also switch you lead. Without even dropping your eyes, fire you right foot into their mid-section. Chances are, if you switched quick enough to the right and without hesitation fired your kick, you should catch that opponent trying to catch up to your change in direction. What happens is; most people tend to lead with their upper body on a directional change instead of leading with their feet. They turn their shoulder and for a split second and thus, they give you an unusually large target in the mid-section because their hips are still facing towards the left. Even though this is ever so slight, if you time it properly (quickly) it should work.

You can adjust this for various opponents. E.g. If the opponent is the type to keep their hands low, then make sure you set this up with a few shots towards the head as you are circling back and forth. You can also create the same effect by circling to the right, switch back to the left about ½ a step and immediately step back to the right and fire. These are the types of things I mentioned earlier when I stated you should alter the main premise as required. This is also an example of a pre-determined reaction i.e. you anticipate an action and react to it. This is quicker and more calculated than simply reacting to the other person’s lead.

In summary, I think it is important to fire at will. If you’re waiting for a perfect opportunity, chances are it may not come… at least with experienced fighters anyway. Constantly try to control the fight by controlling distance, tempo, direction, speed, etc. And don’t be afraid to fire and not score because there’s one thing for sure, if you don’t fire you won’t score.

Back for More Great Reading