How does a fighter overcome an opponent with no apparent weaknesses? The trick is to create an opportunity. To realize that every attack opens a vulnerability. For example, if the left fist is executing a jab, then only the right fist is protecting the opponent’s head. Their left side is exposed during the attack. But this vulnerability can only be capitalized if a counter-attack is timed correctly.
Fighters are the strongest and weakest when they attack.
Students have a vast array of vulnerabilities that can be exploited by their opponents. All vulnerabilities need to be identified and mitigated. A good fighter possesses several attributes in their wheel of expertise:
- Their guard is strong, balanced, and stable,
- They protect themselves when attacked and when attacking,
- They maintain their composure during a fight,
- They can maneuver (aka. “dance”) around their opponent,
- They are mentally & physically strong
- They are conditioned.
A good fighter is effective at timing their counter-attacks at the moment of being attacked. This requires calmness, confidence, athleticism, and skill. In the absence of an attack, a good fighter reverts to creating opportunities through fakes, multiple combinations, and movement. In some instances, forcing an opponent into their own chaos will single-handedly create an opportunity that ends a fight. (See Martial Arts • Fighting Science • Fighter’s Curve).
As humans we are flawed. In fighting, the trick is to identify an opponent’s flaws and exploit them. “No one is perfect” is as much a clique as fact. Each person has their own set of unique strengths and weaknesses. There is no such thing as a “perfect fighter”. This evidenced by the “Champion’s Dilemma” (figure below) – Fighter A can beat Fighter B; Fighter B can beat Fighter C; But Fighter C can also beat Fighter A.
How is this possible? How can each opponent both win and lose in this triad? In MMA it is often said that “styles make fights”. Meaning that two fighters with varying skill-sets face each other to showcase their martial arts skills. Will a wrestler beat a boxer? Will a Muay Thai fighter beat a Kickboxer? All these questions have been answered in the UFC’s Octagon, and other MMA and cage fighting events. Having disparate fighting styles compete against each other, exposes their advantages and disadvantages. In the example above, Fighter A has a style that dominates over Fighter B, but not Fighter C.
Professional bouts focus on strategies that directly exploit
skill-sets that collectively lead to victory.
In any case, fighters can have a bad night, or have personal or physical issues that prevent them from performing at their best. It is said in combat sports, that everyone has a “puncher’s chance“. Meaning that any fighter can get lucky on any given night. To minimize the chance of a lucky punch, professional training camps often focus on the meticulous analysis of their opponent’s past fights.
About the Author
Gabriel Dusil has been a practitioner of Martial Arts for over twenty years. Originally he trained in the traditional style of Shotokan Karate. Gabriel has also trained under Sensei Martin “Sonic” Langley in the United Kingdom and currently trains with Karel Ferus in Prague at the Ferus Fitness Fight Club, fffc.cz. More recently he focuses on circuit training, strength & conditioning, and kickboxing.
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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°