Self Defense/troubleshooting moving offline and avoiding punches
QUESTION: Hi Marc,
I have a troubleshooting question with deflection and moving offline.
While sparring with my training partner, we both find that deflecting punches with a palm slapping sort of block (like how you described in your secrets of effective offense book, the one where your palm moves diagonally back, sort of towards your opposite ear) while stepping offline to outside gate is very effective. It even works well on fast jabs.
I've found that to avoid a blow in time, I have to time my movement to start as soon as I see his shoulder move. As soon as I spot the rotation of the shoulder, I'm already moving offline (either to 3 or 9 o'clock or 11 or 1 o'clock) and bring my palm block across to meet his forearm. I've found that if I wait later, till the punch is already launched, then I tend to end up getting hit.
The problem we've been having is, while this works great for straight punches, if the punch is instead, a hook, we end up moving straight into the punch (if moving to outside gate) because we're already moving offline as soon as we see the shoulder move, right into the direction of the hook punch. If it's slightly angled, you can move your upper body back and bring your palm block deflection out a bit and still successfully parry the blow, but it it's a swing or a hook, you have to change your block from a palm deflection to a cover or an outer block in time, which is doubtful at best. Moving offline to the opposite side (inside gate), while it solves the problem of straights or hooks from the attacking hand, it puts you in line for a subsequent strike from his other hand, which is especially a problem if the first attack was a feint.
So how do you remedy this? I mean, we know different ways of avoiding/blocking hooks, swings and straight punches. No problem if we know which one is coming. The problem is when you don't know which one it is and trying to decipher and react in time.
Basically, see the shoulder move and start moving offline and deflect- I avoid the straight punch. See the shoulder move, start moving offline to deflect and it turns out to be a hook punch - I get hit. See the shoulder move and wait to tell what the trajectory of the punch is before moving - I get hit.
Any advice will be appreciated. Thanks in advance
ANSWER: Sorry for the delay getting back to you, I was engaged in the plumbing project from hell.
A couple of things to start.
You're on the right path, but not far enough along on it. You're seeing the attack start with the shoulder moving. That is good. The trick is to spot it starting when he moves into range/position.
It's not being fast per se that's important, it's recognizing the attack is happening and WHAT is happening -- early enough to know how to react most effectively. It's like crossing the street and looking up and seeing a car come at you early on. But also seeing if the guy is heading straight at you or is weaving like a drunk. You're going to have to move in both cases, but the unpredictability of one means you really have to move more (e.g. sober driver, just get out of the lane. Drunk driver get out of the street and behind something).
Here's a REALLY important point: To hit hard and correctly one MUST be in a specific spot for a specific punch.
You're not fighting Reed Richards from the Fantastic 4 who can stretch his arms like rubber. Someone's 'reach' isn't going to change. Whereas, what 'pose' he is in, will. And that will change how far away he can touch you.
However, there's a difference between being able to hit hard and being able to touch you. If someone is in the wrong place and tries to hit you, he's going to have to sacrifice his structure
In doing so, he's got a serious power drop off. The 'hit' becomes, at most a slap. More likely, it becomes a push.
This is why knowing the range of a blow is so important. Stand in front of a wall and range it for a straight jab. (Your lead hand can touch the wall) Now, WITHOUT shifting your body, do a cross. You should fall short about three inches. Then throw a 'tight' hook. You're not even coming close to the wall because a hook is about the range of your elbow.
This is the reach of these blows. Without shifting your body weight forward you are never going to get into range for anything other than a jab.
Now that you know this, go back to the wall and do another straight jab to get the range. Then -- again without shifting your weight - throw a long range hook/curving in punch. Your fist should be falling short of the target by one to two inches (depending on how much of a curve you are throwing the punch)
I call this a streetfighter punch because it is neither a straight jab or a true hook -- it's a sloppy mix. In order for it to reach the wall you are going to have to move into range. Now you can do it correctly, by shifting your weight forward or you can do it wrong, by leaning over to reach (thereby destroying your structure and power delivering abilities). This punch HAS to be thrown at a closer range than a jab. So the closer the dude is, the more likely it's going to be a hooking sloppy punch.
So if the dude is up close and you see his shoulder move, what's coming?
There are three different ways to handle these kinds of blows. Better, still is to blend them.
To understand them we're going to have to use the image of a round clock face laying on the floor. In one you have to be in the middle of the clock face, in another, it's in front of you and you're standing at 6.
We'll start with the one with you standing in the middle first.
So there you are and the punch comes arcing in from 10. The key here is to move from the center. Now you can do it in multiple ways -- including stepping back to six and quickly returning to the center. However, right now, let's focus on going 'forward'
One way to handle a streetfighting punch coming in at 10, is you both step towards AND slap block towards 11. You take EVERY thing and check/jam his upper arm and shoulder as it's moving forward. As soon as you've jammed it, throw a straight punch into noon to stop his counter from hitting you. What you do from there is entirely up to you, you can skeedaddle back to the center of the clock, you can press on to noon, you can pass his arm and keep going to 11 to get to outside gate, etc., etc.
Another variation is you step to 1 and slap 'block' into his face at noon. This actually isn't a block, it's a hit, but if you want you can drop your hand back down to 10, grab it and jerk him to 9 ON THE FLOOR. This drags him off balance and doing another slap block upside his head and aiming at the same 9 on the floor with your other hand often drops him on his ass.
Again starting in the middle, you can step/lean back to six -- for a second. In this case you step/lean back and starting at 9 you left hand slap block towards 3. This passes his hand and turns him. That way when you return to center you're at outside gate.
Now, if the clock is in front of you (you're standing at 6) Change the direction of the slap block. This instead of going from 3 to 9 or 9 to three.
Same coming from 10. In one, you reach to the middle of the clock with your right hand and then slap back/push to 7. This 'throws the assault over your shoulder' (pun on throwing salt over your shoulder)
Another version is with your left hand you go outside the clock all together -- but out past 10 or 11. When you come back into the clock you're hand is behind his arm. Then you slap block/push to 5
The third way is to use a 'karate block'
This may sound in contrast to what you think, but it's an important point. One of the things I've long maintained is that a karate block is too slow -- and given the way most fuckwits do them, they are.
However, it only took me 30 years to find people who knew what the hell they are doing. And now it's a total no brainer.
Basically there are a whole lot of dipshits out there who think the 'block' is the end move. So there's all kinds of stuff that is done in kata before you arm ends up in that final position. So it looks like you flap your arms around first and then try to block.
NO! What has been lost by these dimwits is what they call 'wind up' is supposed to be a slap block! That's the first step in a three step process. You DON'T rely on just one part of the process. It should be slap block/move/heavy arm block.
The end 'block' alone is too slow to handle fast punches, which is why you slap block first. What it's REALLY good for is handling heavy/powerful punches (like a cross). Which slap blocks aren't enough to handle.
SO YOU DO BOTH!
You sequentially use both hands to block first for speed (and deflection) the second one to finish the job if it's a really powerful punch.
I will warn you in advance, this guy is boring as whale shit. However, what he is calling a 'mark' think of as slap block. The two important ones for what we're talking about are
Take those arm movements, combine them with slap blocks and everything else we've talked about here (especially doing those karate blocks to 7, 11, noon, up and down as you move) and you're going to find streetfighter punches are way less of a problem.
---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------
QUESTION: Thanks for the explanation Marc, I really like the explanation on finding the ranges and the directional changes. I still have a few follow up questions though.
"However, there's a difference between being able to hit hard and being able to touch you. If someone is in the wrong place and tries to hit you, he's going to have to sacrifice his structure
In doing so, he's got a serious power drop off. The 'hit' becomes, at most a slap. More likely, it becomes a push".
I understand the reasons for this, having both felt and launched ineffective punches that landed but were about as powerful as a kindergarten kids punches (due to leaning and sacrificing structure for the extra reach).
However, I'm still wary of getting into the habit of not worrying about punches I know are well out of the right range and would be ineffective it they hit me. I mean, fair enough if it's a punch, as far as the impact effect it won't do anything, but how about if a knuckle makes its way into my eye? Or how about if he has a hidden little razor in his hand? So doesn't this, once again change how I should react to movement? What I wouldn't have worried about before becomes something significant now. Which brings me back to my initial problem of worrying about different strikes, regardless of effective punching range.
I'm a little confused with this part…
" Now, WITHOUT shifting your body, do a cross. You should fall short about three inches……. Then -- again without shifting your weight - throw a long range hook/curving in punch. Your fist should be falling short of the target by one to two inches (depending on how much of a curve you are throwing the punch)…… This punch HAS to be thrown at a closer range than a jab. So the closer the dude is, the more likely it's going to be a hooking sloppy punch."
but if the sloppy hooking/curving punch has longer range (falling short only 1-2 inches as opposed to about 3 inches with the straight right), doesn't that mean that up to a certain point, the further out he is (but closer than jabbing range) the more likely he is to throw a looping punch as opposed to a little closer in where the straight right is now in range? With regards to straight rights or lefts, I can see how past a certain point he can only throw pure hook punches or uppercuts, but what about wing chun/pugilist types of straight vertical fist punches? They can be delivered from hook range as well (slightly upwards toward the chin) can't they?
The other thing that's been troubling me in practice is, with the range, while far out they can only throw a jab. But to get any power behind the jab or left straight, they have to step in as they throw it. Problem is, once they move to step, they can be in range to fire off either a left, a straight right or a looping right depending on how far they step- and I sometimes find it hard to judge how far they are stepping as they're moving, which makes it hard to judge what they'll be in range to fire off.
So basically, not wanting to let my opponent touch me at all, coupled with difficulty judging what range he's moving into make judging and avoiding attacks more difficult for me. Any suggestions?
" One way to handle a streetfighting punch coming in at 10, is you both step towards AND slap block towards 11. You take EVERY thing and check/jam his upper arm and shoulder as it's moving forward. As soon as you've jammed it, throw a straight punch into noon to stop his counter from hitting you."
So, do you mean stepping towards the 10 i.e right into the trajectory of the fist AS you slap it away from outside gate to 11? Or are you supposed to move to 11 and slap block towards 11? Wouldn't that slap the punch right to where you're now standing? Or are you slap blocking his right hand punch with your right hand, from inside gate?
" Another variation is you step to 1 and slap 'block' into his face at noon. This actually isn't a block, it's a hit, but if you want you can drop your hand back down to 10, grab it and jerk him to 9 ON THE FLOOR. This drags him off balance and doing another slap block upside his head and aiming at the same 9 on the floor with your other hand often drops him on his ass."
man, that's a really good one! I'm going to have to try that one, even though I don't like moving to inside gate much. I guess as long as I check his left shoulder while slap blocking his face I'll be right.
" Again starting in the middle, you can step/lean back to six -- for a second. In this case you step/lean back and starting at 9 you left hand slap block towards 3. This passes his hand and turns him. That way when you return to centre you're at outside gate."
This is how I used to try and block a lot. The problem I found was, although I beat aside his first punch, I got nailed if he was charging in with a second left punch because I was still on the tracks. Also, how does it turn his body? All I remember it doing was just knocking his arm aside across his body somewhat, but not enough to turn his body. Unless maybe your slapping behind his elbow? But how would you reach that far if you're stepping back to 6 as the blow comes in?
" Another version is with your left hand you go outside the clock all together -- but out past 10 or 11. When you come back into the clock you're hand is behind his arm. Then you slap block/push to 5"
yep, and this is similar to my default way of blocking and getting offline for a while now. I step offline to the 10 and I don’t slap the punch to the 5. I don’t reach too far with this one, just a small wipe action that intersects probably in the middle of his forearm or sometimes behind his elbow. This is the one though, that I've had problems with while up close with regards to straight or large arc/hooking punches. The problem as mentioned, being that I walk into the hooking type ones.
I like really like the idea of a two motion block. One, to make initial contact and the other to back it up. I suppose that in the offline slap block to 5 example you can dodge offline and first make contact with the slap block then follow up with an outside block or outer fan block too. Gotta try that in training next.
Follow up on questions
1) The preference is that you don't get hit. The fact of the matter is if you recognize that the guy is out of range and he still throws a punch, it's slower. Not quite a full second extra to see it coming and react, but almost. So better not to get hit, having said that, it happens. Do your best to make it happen less.
As for knuckle in the eye or razor, it happens. If it land you get hurt. It happens. It's also a solid reason for making sure the blow doesn't land, why it needs to be over in three and why you should avoid violence if at all possible.
2) IF YOU STAND THERE, you let the other guy set the range. Fact if he can hit you will all kinds of things. More than that, once he's 'ranged' and 'targeted' you he can hit repeatedly and FAST. What's the key point in all of this? STANDING THERE.
Here's a simple test. Hold up your hand, keep it in one position and have a sparring partner hit it as fast and as many times as possible in three seconds. I mean have him go machine gun on your hand.
Same thing, but after the first hit move it in six inches in ANY direction. Every he hits your hand, move it in another random direction, another six inches.
Have him hold up his hand and you do the same.
You will discover an important truth. Repeated "speed punching' is only possible if your going after a stationary target. So what does that say about staying in one place?
3) YES! That's the point! The closer he is, the more likely it is to be a curving punch. Start focusing on the inside of his elbow and upper arm as targets instead of his forearm.
4) The fist is coming in at 10. You step deep into 11 and aim for the inner elbow /upper arm/shoulder. That 'slap block' becomes a palm strike (And yes, you are inside gate. It sucks, but it happens. When you're inside gate you have to act savagely and fast -- this whether to fight your way to outside gate [where you can reduce your level of force] or to drop him fast.