Sunday, 1 February 2015
To become great in any athletic or sporting pursuit requires tremendous effort. Not just of the mind with regards to your approach to training and conditioning but of the body as well. The damage that the body takes in training when seen from a perspective of years of accumulation can only be described as frightening. Whereas most athletes will have to endure through joint, ligament, muscle and bone damage at some point in their career, combat sports enthusiasts must tackle the additional threat of traumatic brain injury.
Getting punched and kicked in the head is not good for one's health. Therefore, a time will come for fighters when we move past checking and blocking strikes thrown our way. A transition must be made from blocking to dodging.
Such a transition should be made as soon as you can sit behind your guard and block, check, parry and absorb everything the opponent throws indefinitely. This level of effective defence is a milestone in itself. It takes time to be able to cover every part of your body that can be targeted and still be able to see your opponent moving.
Progressing past this 'safe' form of defence (when will someone hurling bones at your head ever be safe?), we begin to realise our ability to move just out the way of these strikes. The best fighters are able to seem punchable to their opponent only to slide, roll, slip, switch, lean or skip away to safety. To the delight of the dodger, the puncher now has an inclination that he is not as fast as his opponent.
Is this the case though? People have commented that I am too fast for them but this was from a far fitter and stronger athlete than me. The only conclusion is that I started moving first. I would beat Usain Bolt in a race if I started 5 seconds before him. By the same token I will move quicker than you can punch me if I can anticipate where and when you will attempt to do so. This anticipation and prediction coupled with hours of practice and muscle memory form a very dangerous fighter.
Effective and devastating though it is, this style's downfall is the high risk-high reward gamble we take when using it. As I said earlier, the best fighters seem punchable, predict the strike and move accordingly. However another characteristic of the best fighters is that they do not throw everything with the intent of landing. They half throw some shots to set up others.
For example if I slip to the right perfectly out the way of a jab, next time I would expect him to feign a jab and whip his left shin up to my chin as I lean down into it.
What this means is that the dodger must have three or four answers for everything the opponent throws to remain unpredictable. The beauty of adding busy footwork, perfectly timed movement and strange angles to your arsenal is that you can also fall back on your blocking checking and guarding you learned as a base. But those who never put any stock in the dangerous and risky art of movement, who are content with linear motion and tight, tidy hands have nothing to fall back on when their tactic does not work. Further, they will absorb more damage over time. Years and years of hooks, straights, wheel kicks and round houses all blasting against your guard although not finding their target will rattle your brain around inside your skull.
The objective for fighters apart from being the best they can be using a style unique to them, should be to remain as healthy as possible into our twilight years. Too many fighters have stayed in the game too long and slowly turned into a shadow of their former greatness, all because of the damage to the head. Research how many head shots top guys take throughout their career and you will be astonished. Now consider the years of sparring as well.
The degenerative effects to the fighter's health is all down to the fact that getting punched and kicked is unhealthy.
While this concept seems obvious, even sarcastic to most, I see people taking one shot to give theirs in return. And while this juggernaut style is undoubtedly effective and disgruntling to an opponent who lands his money shot perfectly to no effect, it will come back and bite you very hard is arse later on.
'I'm young, I'm handsome, I'm fast, I'm pretty and I can't possibly be beat' - If you don't know who said this I feel bad for you son.