Training my guard

Discussion in 'General Martial Arts Talk' started by Midnight-shadow, Jun 13, 2017.

  1. Midnight-shadow

    Midnight-shadow 3rd Black Belt

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    So, I did some sparring last night and basically got my *** handed to me by the other students. Thinking back over it, my main issue right now is my guard. When I'm attacking my guard is solid and I'm usually very good at blocking the first strike that comes my way. The problem is that after I've blocked the first strike, I leave my hand in the position that I blocked with instead of returning to my guard position. This leaves me completely open to any follow-up attacks that come in.

    Do you guys know of any specific exercises or drills that can help me train my guard better? Or is this just a matter of training and being aware of what my hands are doing all the time?
     
  2. JowGaWolf

    JowGaWolf Grandmaster

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    What system do you train ? It will give us a better idea of what techniques you can use. I'm assuming that you want to use the techniques from your system. Also what attacks are killing you? double jabs from the lead hand? 1-2 jab combinations? knowing the type of attack that you are getting will help us theorize possible solutions. Sometimes the issue isn't blocking as much as not moving out of the way. What is your overall strategy of attack? Things like that will help people give you better suggestions.
     
  3. Midnight-shadow

    Midnight-shadow 3rd Black Belt

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    My systems are Southern White Crane and Sanda (Chinese Kickboxing) and it's pretty much any follow-up attack that I'm struggling with. For example, my opponent does a roundhouse kick, I block it with my hand and then they follow-up with a jab-punch combo and I can't block it in time because my arm is still in the position where I blocked the kick. From there what usually happens is I back up, turn to try and protect my head which leaves my back exposed and no way to defend. At that point I'm in a completely losing situation with no real way of recovering.

    As for my overall strategy, there isn't much of one and the only way I've found of fighting back effectively is to keep my distance and nail my opponent with kicks (my legs are very strong and I'm more comfortable kicking than punching).
     
  4. JowGaWolf

    JowGaWolf Grandmaster

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    Ok there's a lot of things going on here so lets take one piece at a time. The first thing you'll have to accept is that you can't block everything and that you should determine which hits attacks you are willing to take and which ones you need to block. General rule is usually to block the stuff that can hurt you really bad and absorb the stuff that isn't going to hurt you.

    Some terms I use that I use.
    Full-swing kick. - One that follows completely through and causes the person to have to spin around to recover. We usually this this kick with Muay Thai
    Half-swing kick. - One that is more coming with TKD and Karate style kicks. This kicks travel half way where the person quickly pulls their leg back.

    For the scenario that you are giving, You'll need to understand the roundhouse kick and its mechanics more. Assuming that the roundhouse kick is being used as a set up. Power roundhouse kicks require a different approach. But for now we I'm going to assume that the roundhouse is a setup kick. There are 3 ways to deal with it.
    1. Learn how to use a leg check
    2. Learn how to catch it
    3. Learn how to be hit by it. (requires conditioning)
    All of these are done with the understanding of the power of the round house kick. In general if you can see it coming and if you are in the right position, then you'll be able to do one of these 3 things which will allow you to disrupt the jab-punch combo that follows the kick.

    1. Learn how to use a leg check - This takes a bit of time to learn because naturally we try reach and grab stuff with our hands. The technique is easy, it just takes time to break the habit. If you use a leg check then that keeps your hands available for the follow up punch combo that your opponent will try to throw.

    2. Learn how to catch it.- This depends on how high the kick is. If the kick is waist high then you can catch it. If it's below the waist like on your thigh or lower then use the leg check.

    3. Learn how to be hit by it. - The roundhouse kick has 2 weaknesses. The closer you get to the kicker the weaker the kick will be. The 2nd weakness depends on how far the round house travels. If it's a full swing where your opponent follows all the way through then you'll need to move closer to the opponent. If the round house is a half-swing meaning that the kick doesn't swing all the way through then a quick side step in the same direction that the kick travels will make that kick weak when it hits you. For example, if your opponent kicks you with his or her right leg then you'll will simply just take a quick side or angle step to your right. The angled step will allow you to counter and will make the evasion more effective. A side step will work as well but it will take you out of range to be able to land a really quick counter. The danger with the side step is that if the kick is a full swing then you may end up on the power end of that kick, so only do the side-step technique if the person throws a have swing roundhouse.

    All of this depends on how well you can see the kick come before it actually comes. The body's natural instinct is to either freeze and brace for impact or to get out of the way. Most people go backwards when they are trying to get away and that's the most dangerous thing you can do for a round house kick.

    There is one more method that you can use which is a little more advance to do. This method is to deny the round house kick. If the person likes to do round house kicks with their right leg then try to stay right of their lead leg (left leg). This makes it more difficult for them to do the half-swing round house kick and forces them to make more movement before kicking with a full swing round house kick. This probably takes the longest to learn as you would be fighting off center at times. I would recommend this for someone who likes to kick as their "go to attack." If the person doesn't use attacks often then fighting off center like this isn't needed.

    All of it is scary to do at first and I think that's mainly because we naturally have some habits that go against the logic of the techniques.

    The leg check will allow you to use your hands to block punches. Catching the kick will disrupt the punch combo, but requires a follow up. Don't just catch the leg and stand there holding it. Catch it and then counter with something. Learning how to be hit with the kick is probably my favorite because it frees me to counter. Basically I smash the guy in the face while he's doing the the round house kick. He's on one leg so I know he's not going anywhere.

    Like I said there's a lot going on. The best advice I can give is to just take some time and try to understand what is happening and why you are getting hit. Try to analyze your opponent's attack, and strategy. Try to understand the basic mechanics of what you are getting hit with in an effort to know if there are weaknesses that you can exploit. Keep in mind that just because there is a weakness doesn't mean you currently have the skill and ability to exploit it.

    The biggest thing for your sparring is this: SPAR TO LEARN. Save winning for the streets and competitions. If you are just sparring then you should be like an analytical machine on overload, taking notes, recognizing strategies, and working techniques that you train.
     
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  5. Danny T

    Danny T Senior Master

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    Couple of suggestions.
    1. Take the term 'block' out of your vocabulary. Guard, cover, strike.
    2. Guard & cover the targets (your body parts being attacked) vs moving your guard away and attempting to block any strikes. When your guard is moved away from the body targets it should either be striking or have control of your opponent in some manner. Otherwise, you will be set up to block something and get hit by a different strike.

    Drills? Are you not doing defensive or countering and counter-attack drills in training and practice?
     
  6. DanT

    DanT 2nd Black Belt

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    Since white crane uses primarily simultaneous guard and attack with side stepping, you just need to improve over all. Being able to side step, cover the opponents arm with your "wing" and attack their groin or throat or eyes or ribs is fundamental white crane. Maybe practice your stepping drills more. White Crane is probably one of the most "sophisticated" systems out there. It will take time.

    Since you are practicing white crane, I'd like to ask, do you do groin and throat shots during sparring? With control obviously. For example at my Kwoon, everything is a target during sparring, we just don't hit the eyes, but we still aim for them. And obviously sensitive areas such as the groin and throat we just tap.
     
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  7. jobo

    jobo Grandmaster

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    its not really a problem with your guard, its your continuation, its like you have taken the first few steps of a dance and then just stopped. This can happen with,flow drills were you know all the movement as singles but can't,string them together.

    go back to basics, do it real slow and establish the next movement pattern to come after your initial block.

    I suggest it should be offensive , as you now have the advantage rather than looking for another block, which hands the advantage to them
     
  8. marques

    marques Master Black Belt

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    Without seeing it is hard for me to give a suggestion. They may be using the first strike on purpose to open your guard, perhaps you are forgetting moving your feet... If it is just your hand that does not return to the guard position, train that. Expose yourself to that situation an focus on your guard and your defence.
     
  9. Midnight-shadow

    Midnight-shadow 3rd Black Belt

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    Thanks for all the advice guys, and you are right that I definitely need to practice my footwork as well. I can do basic sidestepping on the Mook Jong but for some reason I can never put it into practice when I spar against someone. Next time I spar I will just focus on my footwork and blocking and not worry about striking and see how it goes.
     
  10. Kung Fu Wang

    Kung Fu Wang Grandmaster

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    You can have 2 solutions here.

    During blocking, if your opponent

    1. resists (you can feel the contact), you can borrow his resistance force, bounce your arm back to your center. After blocking, your arm should still be in your opponent's striking path. If your opponent wants to punch you again, his arm has to deal with your arm first. This is the "metal strategy" - use knife to cut wood. You protect your center from inside out.

    2. yields (you cannot feel the contact - because your opponent's arm moves away from your blocking arm), you can borrow your own momentum, continue your blocking, make a circle, and move your arm back to your center. If you use your arm to draw a circle in front of you, For your opponent's arm be able to punch you, his arm has to deal with your circle. This is the "water strategy" - water flow into empty space. You protect your center from outside in.
     
    Last edited: Jun 13, 2017
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  11. Kung Fu Wang

    Kung Fu Wang Grandmaster

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    Agree!

    You just want to "occupy" the space between you and your opponent before your opponent tries to occupy that space.

    For example, your opponent punches you, you punch him back at the same time. Either your fist meets your opponent's fist (this doesn't happen very often, but it can happen), or your arm and his arm "slide" against each other. When that happen, who's arm can "deflect" who's arm depends on your and your opponent's skill level.
     
  12. Reedone816

    Reedone816 Blue Belt

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    Back when i trained in sanshou, the sifu said to me to not use hard block, it only delay your recovery time, you wasted time to wait for impact and you wasted time to reset after impact.
    Every strike has two points, their optimal range where the impact finished, and the not yet generated enough momentum. at that points are you supposedly place yourself to minimise the impact we receive (guard/slip/parry/counter/etc).

    Sent from my Lenovo A7010a48 using Tapatalk
     
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  13. Monkey Turned Wolf

    Monkey Turned Wolf MT Moderator Staff Member

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    General advice not related to style: sidestep, or step back if you need to. Get good at taking long steps out of the way to reset if need be. When blocking, move your hands as little as possible, so that they're still protecting everything you need them to protect. It helps if you plane your body while block to do this, or if you stay in a side stance, don't reach just to block.
     
  14. Touch Of Death

    Touch Of Death Sr. Grandmaster

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    Don't do that. o_O
     
  15. Midnight-shadow

    Midnight-shadow 3rd Black Belt

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    Don't do what? Spar?
     
  16. Touch Of Death

    Touch Of Death Sr. Grandmaster

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    Leave your hands out. Pretend you will die if you don't return to the guard. Secondly, all decisions should be made from the guard. it is your reset.
     
  17. Midnight-shadow

    Midnight-shadow 3rd Black Belt

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    Ah yeah.
     
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  18. drop bear

    drop bear Sr. Grandmaster

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    I would have to see it.
     
  19. Touch Of Death

    Touch Of Death Sr. Grandmaster

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    Just beat it, beat it; but; keep your guard up by your head, or eat it. :singing:
     
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  20. JR 137

    JR 137 Grandmaster

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    A lot of good advice has been given here. I can only add instead of trying to retreat, try stepping in and at an angle off the line of attack. It's pretty hard to do as it's not an instinctual response, but if you're conscious of it, you can eventually overcome the instinct to turn and cover. It takes a while and can get painful, but you'll be better off after you've reprogrammed yourself.123
     

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