Study an opponent to use his errors

How to exploit the opponent’s errors

Continuing the discussion about fighting strategy (read How to study an opponent) we start to talk about how to use our enemy’s errors against him.

There are endless ways to use at our advantage the opponent’s:

  • Mistakes – Everything he fails to do, he does wrong, etc.
  • Habits – Even the most astute and prepared fighter has(conscious or unconscious) recurring ways to act
  • Specific characteristics – Every fighter has his peculiarity due to physical shape, weak / strong points, mindset, etc.

We could also say that every action (rational or irrational, voluntary or forced) presents a percentage of positive and negative aspects: it is up to us to know how to get the most out of every circumstance.

A note by Master Kongling – Understanding does not mean seeing, seeing does not mean being able to act. In the excited moment of the fight (competitions, self-defense contexts, etc.), the advantage we are talking about will be greater the more we will be reactive in terms of rapid reasoning, timing (read for example Simultaneous attack and defense: the concept of active reaction) and precision (read The most important skill in combat). The higher the level of preparation of the opponent will be, the shorter the planning time will be and more difficult will be to intercept the “action-windows” of his mistakes.

What are we looking for?

Before going into the details of the specific tactics / strategies we must understand what kind of goals we want to reach. Let’s see some of them (accompanied by examples of opportunity of using the adversary’s habits / limits against him):

  • Lower the number of attacks from which to defend – If, for example, we know that the 3rd left jab of a recurring sequence is not so strong we can sacrifice ourselves accepting to be hit to set a decisive attack
  • Find / defend the guard vulnerabilities – If, for example, we understand that when the adversary kicks he loses balance (or he lowers the guard), we can take advantage of it making him falling (read How to kick (simple explanation))
  • Organize our mobility – When (if) we are at least partially aware of what is dangerous and what is not in the opponent’s combat system (eg. good kicks, bad punches) we can better manage distances, directions of movements (etc.)
  • Prepare effective traps – If for instance, we see that who we are facing is always trying to get a certain position (or to attack the same target), we can tactically deceive him with tailored baits creating situations where he will be sure to act effectively and instead he will be victim of our plans (eg. a joint-lock, read Chin Na)
  • Create disadvantage / advantage conditions – If we understand that for example, our opponent is not so good in kicking with the right leg we can use the fighting scenario’s conformation to force him to do not be able to attack with the left one

Final notes

A few considerations:

  • The examples we have made are very basic and for explanation purpose only, a lot of them represents typical errors of absolute beginners (read The 10 most common combat mistakes); against a good fighter the research of mistakes is more difficult and it’s a matter of big experience
  • In a frenetic combat, many of the tactics that we have seen (and that we will see) may appear cumbersome and complex to follow but, as we have said many times, instinct has to be driven by rapid reasoning (nothing of impossible, it’s only a matter of training)
  • Unconsciously our mind processes an infinite amount of information and links them in an almost perfect way (eg. the body balance, the depth of the spaces in relation to the point of observation, our movement, etc.); with the time all these small impositions (reading of body language, action-windows recognition, times to act and react, etc.) will become natural attitudes
  • Without a regular practice of sparring (with different levels of partners) is absolutely impossible to reach a good understanding of the opponents

After this brief introduction, in the next article, we will deeply see what to do with the information of the study phase (read Study the opponent: concepts and applications); this way we will begin to learn how to connect the collected data to their actual usage.

In-depth articles


Reply in the comments and share your experience:

  • During sparring, can you see your opponent’s errors?

Author: Master Kongling

Founder of 6 Dragons Kung Fu.

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