Hitting effectively: distances and targets

The target that we choose and the target that we reach

There is a big difference from what a beginner thinks he is able to do and what he truly can do. Differently from training, during a fight (even simple sparring) there are a lot of disrupting elements that hinder our ability to implement our action plans (instinctive or reasoned they are):

  • Time and space – If we do not know when to hit, from what distance, adopting what trajectories (etc.) we will always be victims of fate
  • Unexpected obstacles – Everything is in the fighting scenario can obstacle us, from the limbs of our opponents to their weapons, passive environments elements, etc.
  • Poor knowledge of ourselves – Our limits, our reaction times, our speed, our current physical conditions, etc.

Until our spatial intelligence (read The most important skill in combat) will not develop in the appropriate manner, the way we hit opponents it will always be limited to a more or less wide error range.

Schematically (both in terms of attack, both defense) we can imagine a sphere that gravitates around our goal (a punch that comes, the chin of the attacker, etc.): this portion of space represents the area that, once the target is chosen, we are certainly able to achieve.

Inside of that sphere, exist different regions:

  • Some identify a perfect impact
  • Some identify a useful impact
  • Some identify a useless impact
  • Some others identify a damaging impact (for us)

If during training we can try, make mistakes and thus improve, to prevail in a real fight we can not accept anything less than a useful impact.

How to hit effectively

To overcome the problems related to a leak of precision we can follow a few simple tips:

  • Slightly direct the blows in the center of gravity direction – It is not a coincidence that Wing Chun says to hit the center line (and this is not only because in the center line there are a lot of vital points); if we imagine a Vitruvian man, when we attack we always have to strive force more toward the center of gravity of the opponent’s body rather than to the outside (the void); this easy ploy will guarantee us a surplus of effective action that varies between 25% and 50% because in a human body that is generally the slowest part; this does not mean to change our targets but to change the direction of the force that wee impress in the opponent’s body
  • Hit beyond the real position of the target – It is not a coincidence that Karate says to hit behind our objective; when we choose a target, we have to imagine to hit well beyond its real location, thereby releasing more power and at worst, reaching it even if the opponent slightly moves away; in Kung Fu this is not correct in all the possible type of blows but it is a good general rule to obtain the best results in combat
  • Use meeting strokes – If we have the opportunity (and the impact will not disadvantage us) we can opt for meeting strokes (eg. a front kick against a running aggressor or a punch that goes against another one entering the opponent’s guard with a slight last-minute variation of trajectory); this way we exploit the aggressor’s energy, we do not risk to get to the target with a too little force and the opponent will hardly be able to dodge
  • Hit where the opponent will be – We have to learn to choose as target the point where we know our opponent will be (after a few milliseconds) and not the one where he is now; this way we will have time / space to load more powerful shots and who we face will be probably taken completely by surprise; the best implementation of this tactic is to hit where / when the opponent will land, in the location where he will not be able to rapidly escape (because of the disposition of his weight)
  • Use softness instead of stiffness – Softness is faster and more effective than stiffness (read 6DKF’s interactions: from the strong blow to the light); we have to adopt as much as possible soft movements of attack / defense (read The path to the soft movements) that stiffen and accelerate explosively only near the target; this will ensure us unpredictability and will prevent damages due to possible collateral impacts (eg. the corner of a wall)
  • Limit simultaneous attacks – We have to eliminate the idea of giving more simultaneous shots (eg. simultaneous right and left punch), this is a viable way only for experts (with a perfect coordination, an impeccable technique and a spatial intelligence able to evaluate millimetrically the distances); it is better to opt for active reactions (read Simultaneous attack and defense: the concept of active reactions)
  • Largely adopt combined blows sequences – We have to rely on unpredictable but chained sequence of blows (both in attack, defense and counterattack); if the first impact should not be successful we must have already a second, a third (and so on) prompt action to correct previous errors (eg. fist, wrist, elbow, palm of the other hand, etc.); a good fighter has must potentially have an infinite number of combinations
  • Avoid hard targets – We have to avoid all that targets that, in the present moment of the fight (opponent type, scenario conformation, etc.), are too risky; there are many points that we can aim to achieve, we have to omit the most uncertain and all those are without subsequent outlets (both in terms of sequences of shots, both of eventual danger); the human body has endless areas that are worth achieving
  • Attack unexpected but tactical targets – The most common targets are generally the most difficult to achieve but it is not said that to gain them we must hit them first; in a clever sequence, the first step may seem harmless but it can actually only be a way to make inroads in the opponent’s defensive apparatus
  • Let’s take what is at our reach in the present – Strategies can be made before the start of fight but tactics not; the best target to choose is the one gives us (dynamically) the adversaries’ mistakes, the worst the one we forcibly choose; let’s also distrust of the mistakes made in moments with no intense interaction, those are typically deceptions / faints

Final notes

A few conclusive tips and thoughts:

  • Some of these tips are simple, others less but they remain largely valid to be tested first-person, even after acquiring a high level of spatial intelligence
  • It is important to note that these ideas are both for the unarmed combat, both with improper / proper weapons (read Improper weapons in a real situation)
  • The more our spatial intelligence become precise / responsive, the more we will be closer to the assimilation of the most advanced techniques (pressure points, etc.)

In the past, we have already alluded to various useful exercises to improve spatial intelligence (read Reflexes and spatial intelligence: an exercise with the tennis ball, Dodges, balance, spatial intelligence and attack: one exercise, and Weapon training: advanced exercise for spatial intelligence), later we will expose many more.

In-depth articles


Reply in the comments and share your experience:

  • With a moving target, how many times can you reach exactly the point that you choose?

Author: Master Kongling

Founder of 6 Dragons Kung Fu.

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