Martial Arts • Fighting Science • 22 • Yin ☯ Yang of Strategy vs. Tactics

One aspect of fighting is knowing your opponent’s weaknesses. But those weaknesses are not always apparent. Formulating a winning strategy before a match is an effective approach to understanding an opponent, but that convenience is not always available. In a surprise circumstance, assessing a situation in real-time may be required.

One approach is to judge an opponent’s strengths and weaknesses on appearance alone. Although “judging a book by it’s cover” is not always wise, it may be the only recourse.  For instance, assessing a muscular opponent may assume good grappling skills – Avoiding a ground conflict may be paramount. A tall fighter will likely have a “reach advantage”, meaning that the length of their limbs are longer than yours. This means they can hit you, even if you can’t hit them – In this case, combinations and movement will be required to duck under the opponent’s punches for a counter-attack. A smaller fighter, on the other hand, will typically have shorter limbs and will want to get “inside” to connect their strikes or grab for a take-down. Formulating strategy is fundamental to combat sports. We cover this topic in more detail here: Martial Arts • Fighting Science • Fighting Zones

Compared to strategy, tactics are more immediate and specific. These focus on mitigating an opponent’s granular reactions and exploiting their technical weaknesses. For example, a fighter may drop their hands when they kick – This can be exploited with a well-timed strike to the head when they attack with a kick. The opponent may have a tendency to lean back when facing a jab – Rushing them will put them off balance. The fighter may hold their breath when they are attacked. This physical reaction is often caused by fear or inexperience. Moreover, holding breath results in getting tired much faster.  With this opponent, surviving an initial onslaught and waiting for the opponent to be exhausted may be an effective tactic.

A fighter may hide their weaknesses by pouncing early,
not giving the opponent a chance to introspect.

Professional fighters often have the luxury of formulating strategy and tactics before a competition, because they can review an opponent’s previous fights and analyze their strengths and weaknesses if footage exists. Without such content, a strategy may need to be formulated in real-time, in the first seconds or minutes of a fight. Once an opponent has been engaged, their capabilities are clearer.

Martial Arts • Fighting Science Series

If you would like to read more articles in this “Yin Yang of Fighting Science” series, check out these posts:

• 1 • Yin Yang of Technique vs. Power
• 2 • Yin Yang of Speed vs. Timing
• 3 • Yin Yang of Fighting Styles
• 4 • Yin Yang of Technique vs. Instinct
• 5 • Yin Yang of Empty vs. Full Cups
• 6 • Yin Yang of Slow vs. Fast
• 7 • Yin Yang of Perception vs. Reality
• 8 • Yin Yang of Fear vs. Confidence
• 9 • Yin Yang of Threes
• 10 • Yin Yang of Burden vs. Privilege
• 11 • Yin Yang of Anticipation vs. Surprise
• 12 • Yin Yang of Compliance vs. Resistance
• 13 • Yin Yang of Attacking vs. Defending
• 14 • Yin Yang of Fighting 360°
• 15 • Yin Yang of Teachers vs. Students
• 16 • Yin Yang of Physics vs. Physiology
• 17 • Yin Yang of Vulnerability vs. Opportunity
• 18 • Yin Yang of Martial Arts vs. Combat
• 19 • Yin Yang of Sport vs. Violence
• 20 • Yin Yang of Rhythm vs. Random
• 21 • Yin Yang of Stability
• 22 • Yin Yang of Strategy vs. Tactics
• 23 • Yin Yang of Instinct vs. Reason
• 24 • Yin Yang of Unstoppable vs. Immovable

• Fighting Science • Fighter’s Curve
• Fighting Science • Fighting Zones


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Gabriel is a seasoned sales and marketing expert with over 25 years in senior positions at Motorola, VeriSign (acquired by Symantec in 2010 for 1.25 billion US$), SecureWorks (acquired by Dell in 2011 for 612 million US$), and Cognitive Security (acquired by Cisco in 2013 for 25 million US$). He is a blockchain entrepreneur, with strengths in international business strategy.

Gabriel has a bachelor’s degree in Engineering Physics from McMaster University in Canada and expert knowledge in crypto incubation, cloud computing, IT security, and digital video technology. Gabriel also runs his own company, Euro Tech Startups s.r.o.

Hobbies include photography, video production, motion graphics, digital graphics, photo restoration, carpentry, martial arts, traveling, blogging, and trying to be better than yesterday.

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