Tag Archives: Fighter’s Curve

Martial Arts • Fighting Science • Fighting Zones

Graphic - Martial Arts, Fighting Science (smaller)• There are three zones in stand-up combat. Each one is represented by a circle around the fighter. The largest is the white zone, where the fighter can’t reach the opponent with their fist or foot. The gray zone is where they are close enough to hit the opponent. The red zone is where both fighters are so close to each other it’s as if they’re fighting in a “phone booth”. Each fighter has different zone sizes determined by the length of their limbs. The gray zone is slightly wider for kicks than for punches because legs are usually longer than arms. Understanding your own zone borders and those of the opponent increases the fighter’s tactical advantage.

Graphic - Pictogram (fighter boxing kickboxing judo wrestling mma)_white & Gray Zone

Graphic - Pictogram (fighter boxing kickboxing judo wrestling mma)_Red zone, boxing• A fighting tactic is to force your opponent into a zone where they are most uncomfortable. One approach towards this goal is to understand the comfort zone of different fighting styles. For instance, a key difference between Karate (空手) and boxing is that Karate practitioners prefers to fight along the border of the white and gray zone. On the other hand, boxers and Muay Thai fighters prefer to fight between the gray and red zones. Fighting in the gray zone is often called, “the pocket”. Boxers will stay in hitting range and use footwork and head movement to avoid attacks while counter-striking. Graphic - Pictogram (fighter boxing kickboxing judo wrestling mma)_Red Zone, wrestlingThis gray zone tactic allows the fighter to quickly transition to the red zone where they can inflict a lot of damage. A Karate ka (i.e. Karate student) in the red zone is completely out of their comfort zone, whereas boxers are well versed in this zone.

Graphic - Pictogram (fighter boxing kickboxing judo wrestling mma)_Black zone, grappling

• A street fight can start in the white zone but quickly finish in the red zone, as if ignoring the gray zone entirely. A bar fight could start in the red zone and finish on the ground. This is called the black zone. Graphic - Pictogram (fighter boxing kickboxing judo wrestling mma)_Red to Black Zone, judoIt’s where Judoka, wrestlers, and jiu-jitsu fighters are experts. Likewise, transitioning from the red zone to the black zone lies in the expertise of judo, wrestling, and Aikido.

• Strikers hate the black zone because it’s foreign territory. Likewise, grapplers such as judoka and wrestlers hate the gray and white zone because they’re not quite close enough to grab onto an arm or leg. Grapplers need to get a hold of their opponent’s limbs and take them quickly to the ground, where they can dominate. This may require transitioning from the white zone directly to the red zone – a wrestling technique known as “shooting”, such as “shooting for a double leg”. Fighters should avoid the zone where their opponent is strongest. If this is not possible then a tactical approach is to stay in the zone where they have a weight, or experience advantage over the opponent.

• I trained in Shotokan (松濤館) in the 80’s, and also sparred with other disciplines like kickboxers, Taekwondo practitioners, and other Karate disciplines. We learned that each style had it’s strengths and weaknesses, but even then it was clear that a student of many disciplines would be very powerful. In February of 1988 Bloodsport was released in the theaters starring Jean-Claude Van Damme. His character Frank Dux travels to Hong Kong to fight in a martial arts tournament where the best from each martial art fight. In the martial arts community this movie fueled our debate as to which style would prevail. I came from a judo base, since my father and uncles were all back belts, so for me the debate began a generation earlier. Five years after Bloodsport, the UFC was launched in November 1993. This was the first widely televised tournament to test the strengths of different fighting styles. In fact, it was the goal of the legend, Hélio Gracie, one of the founders of Gracie and Brazilian jiu-jitsu was the best martial art in the world.  He went one step further and didn’t even send his best son Rickson Gracie to the tournament. Sending instead his modest looking 175lbs son, Royce Gracie. It was as if to send a message to the world, “I won’t even send my best son, and we will still win.” That was certainly the case, and the Gracie family’s name was indelibly stamped in Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) history.

• Over the next twenty two years MMA has evolved into it’s own discipline. Students now learn to fight in all zones – white, gray, red and black. MMA teaches fighters to overcome the limitations of any martial art by combining the best and most effective techniques from each discipline. MMA fighters become versed in all fighting contingencies by learning the skills necessary to defend and attack in all four zones. By mixing all fighting styles, MMA has revealed four dominating disciplines:

Graphic - Pictogram (fighter boxing kickboxing judo wrestling mma, MMA)

  • Boxing has dominated because of their ability to maneuver and attack with multiple striking combinations while in the red zone. Complementing this style is Karate, Kung Fu, Taekwondo, and kickboxing, partially for their ability to transition from the white to gray zone.
  • Muay Thai extends the boxer’s arsenal by including three additional striking tools to boxing: elbows, knees, and feet (six if you count both limbs).
  • Wrestling has its greatest strength in superior grappling and in maneuvering their opponents on the ground.
  • Jujitsu has a rightful position in this four corners of MMA in their ability to “finish” the fight – either through breaking a limb, ripping ligaments, or restricting blood flow or oxygen to the brain. It’s worthwhile mentioning Judo in this mix of dominating styles because it sits nicely between Muay Thai and Jujitsu in transitioning fights from the red to the black zone.

• There is a common theme among these four disciples in how MMA has evolved over the past two decades. It also answers the ultimate question of which fighting style is the most dominant – there isn’t just one – there are four styles that dominate:  Boxing and Muay Thai have proven their expertise in the red zone, while wrestling and Jujitsu have shown the same in the black zone. Expertise in all of these disciplines is the foundation of the ultimate fighter.

• Martial Arts

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About the Author

Home - Signature, Gabriel Dusil ('12, shadow, teal)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 the expertise of Sensei Martin “Sonic” Langley in the United Kingdom. More recently he has focused on circuit training, conditioning, Brazilian jiu-jitsu, and kickboxing. Gabriel teaches both children and adults at the Ferus Fitness Fight Club, fffc.cz.

Martial Arts • Fighting Science • Fighter’s Curve

Graphic - Martial Arts, Fighting Science (smaller)• In this Martial Arts • Fighting Science paper, we will discuss the psychology and physiology of fighters in combat. This first article investigates the changes in entropy when two opponents fight. Entropy is the measure of “order” in a particular system. In the context of fighting, low entropy means a high level of control. High entropy means low control or high disorder. The exchange between two fighters can be a series of punches, kicks, elbows, knee strikes or even grappling on the ground.

Portfolio - Fighting Science, Fighter's Curve_i. Figher's Curve• During a fight the level of entropy increases. In exchange each opponent has their own “fighter’s curve”. We can visualize this curve in a graph where the y-axis represents entropy, and on the x-axis is time. The longer it takes for an exchange to take place between two opponents the higher the entropy. In other words, both fighters lose some level of control in exchange. But the rate at which the fighter loses control depends on their experience, technique, “heart”, strength and conditioning.

Portfolio - Fighting Science, Fighter's Curve_ii. Experienced vs. Novice Fighter• Novice fighters are very uncomfortable at high entropy. Martial artists that focus on self-defense also have little tolerance for high entropy. In self-defense disciplines, the defender wants to block and strike the attacker. Once that has occurred then they anticipate the end of the fight. Their entropy curve is sharp because a long exchange of strikes is not desirable. Kickboxers or boxers, on the other hand, have a shallow fighter’s curve. They are comfortable with a flurry of combinations, and will even stay in striking range for long periods of time while simultaneously blocking, moving, and counter-striking.

Portfolio - Fighting Science, Fighter's Curve_ii. Chaos Zone• The problem escalates when a fighter’s curve passes a threshold where they no longer know what’s going on. This is called the “chaos threshold.” High entropy can eventually lead to chaos – especially for inexperienced fighters. In this zone, a fighter has lost complete control and tries to survive mainly through instinctive reactions. Once the fighter passes the “chaos threshold” they enter the “chaos zone“. In the chaos zone, the fighter is most susceptible to a knockout or severe injury because they’re no longer completely aware of their surroundings. Fear easily takes over in this zone, resulting in the fighter closing their eyes and cover their face. In the chaos zone technique, timing, and power are significantly compromised. With the onset of panic, the fighter may “turtle” (enter a fetal position).

• Fear also causes a fighter to hold their breath – either when being attacked, and even when attacking. This accelerates exhaustion because the lungs and muscles are deprived of oxygen during the exact moment when needed the most. I often tell students that if they hold their breath during a fight they will succumb to exhaustion four times faster than if they breathed during each exchange. The physiological reaction of holding your breath results in a sharper fighter’s curve and a quick entry into the chaos zone. When the muscles are starved of oxygen then exhaustion is accelerated and the body becomes paralyzed to attempt any counter-attack.

• Experienced fighters learn to keep their eyes open even in the most fierce circumstances. Eyes need to stay open during an attack because the fighter has the best chance of survival if they see all strikes coming. Many knockouts occur because the opponent didn’t see the attack. If their eyes are open, then the body instinctively prepares for impact. Learning to keep your eyes open while being attacked help to create a shallow fighter’s curve.

Portfolio - Fighting Science, Fighter's Curve_iv. Fight Progression• A fight is typically a cyclical series of exchanges: movement, exchange, separate, movement, exchange, separate, and repeat. These exchanges may be on the feet. Or on the ground where attacks involve breaking a limb or cutting off oxygen or blood to the brain. Once this happens then the opponent goes “to sleep” (Fight-speak meaning that the brain is deprived of oxygen resulting in the fighter going unconscious). A fight could very well finish on the first exchange.

• At the beginning of a match, the fighter’s curve is zero. Throughout a fight, the entropy level will never completely return to the same point as the beginning of a fight. This is due to the increased heart rate and less oxygen supplied to muscles as a fight progresses. Exhaustion also leads to a decrease in reaction time to an attack, as well as when attacking. Fear and panic also can contribute to preventing a return to low entropy. Strength, conditioning, technique, experience, and the fighter’s “heart” all help the fighter’s quick recovery to low entropy. Two fighters with equal talent and experience will be differentiated by “heart”. The fighter that has a higher determination to win will have the a psychological advantage.

Portfolio - Fighting Science, Fighter's Curve_v. Fighting Advantage• Furthermore, a fighter that keeps their cool in an exchange can capitalize on an opponent that has lost their senses (because they have transitioned into the chaos zone), and has begun to panic. Once an opponent enters their chaos zone, then they are the most vulnerable, and a quick finish could be imminent.

Portfolio - Fighting Science, Fighter's Curve_vi. Recovery Advantage• Recovery from high entropy (or from the chaos zone), is for the exchange to finish so that the fighter can regroup and collect their senses. This returns the fighter’s curve to near their starting point and more importantly takes the fighter out of the chaos zone. The trick is to have a fighter’s curve that is gradual on the exchange and then sharp on the recovery. If the fighter feels comfortable during an exchange then they will remain technical in their offense and defense while simultaneously keeping their composure. Recovery from high entropy is quicker if the fighter is conditioned. If the fighter is not in shape then recovery to a lower controlled state is much slower as the heart rate struggles to return to normal and oxygen is replenished in the muscles. There is an added benefit for experienced fighters: Quick recovery to low entropy is more efficient since there is a much smaller recovery delta when compared to an inexperienced fighter.

• Martial Arts

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About the Author

Home - Signature, Gabriel Dusil ('12, shadow, teal)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 the expertise of Sensei Martin “Sonic” Langley in the United Kingdom. More recently he has focused on circuit training, conditioning, Brazilian jiu-jitsu, and kickboxing. Gabriel teaches both children and adults at the Ferus Fitness Fight Club, fffc.cz.