4 exercises to become good at dodging punches

Why is important to learn to dodge punches

Unlike the kick (read The use of legs in a real fight), the punch (read How to punch (simple explanation)) is the most diffuse and implemented combat technique:

  • The practitioner of martial arts – Despite the level of experience, he uses it because it is simple (and simple means effective)
  • The not practitioner – He uses it because the mechanics of the human body naturally brings there

From here it is easy to understand that to learn how to dodge a punch (read Dodge attacks) is absolutely a basic capability that every kind of fighter should master.

The right exercises in the wrong moment

Even if in any course the dodge is one of the first techniques that is taught, the difference between the real application and the theory is an abyss that, to be filled up, requires years of serious practice (read Why martial arts do not work: 5 reasons).

For a beginner (after having understood the technique), the wrong approach is to start with the classical muscle memory education patterns:

  • Drilling with a cooperative partner – Cyclically avoiding the partner’s slow-motion attacks
  • Shadow boxing – Bending to the right and to the left without (knowing exactly what we are really doing)
  • Repetitive tools – Avoid an obstacle rotating only on the Y-axis (fixed to a pole or moved by a partner)

Let’s be clear, except for the first one (that is good only to learn the key aspects of a dodge), these exercises can be good but only after having acquired (at least basically) the dynamics contextual to a fight; the reasons are that:

  • Timing and spacing are wrong and fictitious
  • The movements risk to be limited or sketched
  • There is not even a minimum of mental stress (and consequently low concentration)
  • The cyclical moves (if done incorrectly) destroy the combat attitude
  • We risk doing only what we are good at, creating big gaps in our fighting system

A note by Master Kongling – I have seen this an infinite number of times, both when I was a student, both after starting teaching: it is totally wrong to try to educate an automation of the muscle memory (read The muscle memory) if that movement has not been tested (at least partially) in a dynamic context. This way we risk to interiorize something that is incomplete, unsuitable for us or even totally wrong.

To reply to this beginner’s need, 6 Dragons Kung Fu dedicates a part of the initial education of the student to the development of a “natural” combat system, functional to the reasoned learning of the subsequent technical baggage (read /// Subscribe (it's free!) or Login to see this content ///).

A good exercises’ sequence to improve rapidly

A note by Master Kongling – Beyond the choreographic beauty of a cyclical movement (and its effectiveness in refining the quality of our moves), a practitioner should not be trained as a circus animal (eg. at stimulus A, always reply with B). A fighter finds his excellence in broken rhythms, rapid reasoning, tactical reactivity, adaptability and unpredictability (something in a certain way “similar” to dyslexia). The truth is that all the fancy mechanized tricks work only against low-level opponents (and in some cases do not work at all). It is necessary to work, as much as possible, on situations whose dynamics are dictated by factors that are difficult to refer to loops that are always the same (read also Same exercises, different execution).

As we always say, the only way to learn how to fight, is to fight but if for a beginner is too early to start with sparring, it is absolutely safe and functional to practice (again, after having seen the technique) with these exercises.

Exercise 1 – Understand the dynamics

There is nothing better than a moving target that can enter our guard and that bounces in an unexpected way to learn what does it means to dodge:

Exercise 2 – The “U” motion

Only after a few practice with exercise 1, we can pass to this:

A note by Master Konlging – It is worth focusing on this because, while the other basic dodging techniques can be learned more quickly, this requires a more intense effort.

Exercise 3 – Educate the balance

Then, with time, we can also do this:

Exercise 4 – Sparring

Once the instinctive and the technical aspects have been absorbed, it is possible (and necessary) to start the path of sparring:

Final notes

A few conclusive thoughts:

  • It is important to stress that, in our school, the cooperative-cyclical practice with a partner is not absent, it is simply confined in the learning phase (read A scheme to quickly learn any kind of technique)
  • Again, in the phase of education of muscle memory, there is nothing worse than educate a student to be predictable
  • Arrived at exercise 4 (at least after 1 year), it is possible and encouraged to start to clean / smooth the technique doing shadow boxing (and the other mentioned exercises)
  • Naturally, this is not the end of the path (nor the only possible begin), the next step is speed training (more about this later)
  • Last but not least, it is useless to say that not all the punches can be dodged (this happens only on movies); in parallel to this useful attitude it is absolutely necessary to follow a solid conditioning path (read Acceptance and prevention of pain and Why professional fighters do not block / parry the blows?)

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Reply in the comments and share your experience:

  • Have you ever lost your balance trying to avoid a punch?

Author: Master Kongling

Founder of 6 Dragons Kung Fu.

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