How take a hit well

DrewTheTKDStudent1992

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Hey guys, I sometimes struggle with fear of getting hit, but I don’t want let it affect me, especially when it comes to sparring.

How do you guys face this fear?
 
Hit them first.

Don't get hit.
 
Maybe look at it another way. Getting hit is not conducive to good health. But not to worry, if you spar, you'll get hit and learn to roll with hits, breathe through the hits and, if you train properly and train hard, avoid the hits.

If you take two fighters in a contact fighting sport and one has a 33-2 record, the other a 2-33 record, that second guy probably can take a better hit than the first guy. But which guy do we want to be?

I've found that most newer students just love offense. All those punches and all those wonderful kicks. I did too. But when you really start zoning in on defense, footwork, blocking, parrying, crowding, clinching etc, your entire outlook on fighting will probably change.

As for fear, everyone has some forms of fear. The Hero is just as afraid as everyone else. He just kept going.
 
Most people don't like to get hit in the face/head.
1. Learn to accept getting hit. This doesn't mean you say Ok I'm going to get hit. It means actually getting hit and nothing changes. You don't blink, you don't step back, you just do whatever just as if you didn't get hit. Easy said, tougher to do.
2. Your training should encompass survival drills or stand your ground drills. We start beginners off slowly and lightly where they can only defend (no counter attacking) with a more experienced person throwing a series of strikes at them. If they get hit it is nothing more than a tap. We work with them to keep their eyes open and on the puncher at all times. As their ability to defend the attacks increases so will their confidence. So we then increase the speed and the power of the strikes a bit and in time they are standing their ground vs more powerful and faster attacks.
3. Prior to sparring we start with 3 for 3 striking drills. One leads with any 3 strikes the other defends. Then the defender attacks with 3 strikes and the continues back an forth for several rounds. Again we start slow and light building to faster and more powerful strikes.
4. Sparring I start people who are just beginning in sparring with a more senior student who has shown the ability to work with beginners. The senior can only use a single strike to attack but can attack at any moment. Let's for now say a Jab. The beginner only need be concerned about just the Jab. After a bit we add a second strike...a rear straight. Again in time we add more strikes, more speed, more power but it is based on the beginners ability to grow with it.

All the while they get accustomed to getting hit, accepting it and continuing to work.
 
Hey guys, I sometimes struggle with fear of getting hit, but I don’t want let it affect me, especially when it comes to sparring.

How do you guys face this fear?

Hey good question. A lot of students have this issue. Some never get over it and it makes it hard to train them. You spar and they're trying as hard as they can to stay out of range and keep their heads back to avoid being hit there and it just isn't working for anyone.

I am not sure how to tell you to 'face' the fear, but if it helps, understand that you're going to get hit, and it's going to hurt. We're not masochists, we don't like to get hit, we don't enjoy pain. We're likewise not sadists, we don't get our thrills from hurting people.

But in addition to martial arts skills, how you take risk, accept pain, and work within that framework will define how well you can defend yourself in a real physical fight.

Some interesting things about pain.

If you're feeling it, you're alive. Not unconscious, not dead. Not yet, anyway. That means you might be able to stop those things from happening.

Pain informs us and keeps us from doing dangerous stuff. Didn't throw up your block fast enough? Well, this might motivate you to do so the next time, right?

If you listen to pain, you will discover that you can push through most pain. Not all pain and not everybody, but mostly. I had a toothache from an infected tooth a couple years ago that took me past what I could accept and roll with - but otherwise I've taken some shots in the dojo and you know what? It's only pain. It's a thing. It hurts. I hate it. Owy owy owy. Dang. Other curse words. But it informs, it motivates, and it gives me something to internalize.

I was in a tournament and I foolishly tried to block a front snap kick with an open hand. Blew my glove off my hand and broke all my fingers except my thumb. I immediately collapsed in a heap on the mat. They had to stop the match and tend to me. Finally I had them strap my glove back on, held my busted hand to my abdomen and finished the match one-handed. Won third place by disqualification; my opponent was so frustrated that he could not get past my one-armed defense that he broke a rule and leaped up in the air and delivered a superman punch through my guard as hard as he could. I considered that a win myself; I pushed him past sportsmanship because he could not defeat me any other way. I drove home four hours cradling a busted hand though. Took months to heal. Still got the trophy.

What's the point. Hmmm. Pain hurts. But pain by itself does not kill. Don't try to get hit, but accept that it's going to happen, it's going to suck, and it's a defining moment. You can be scared of it or you can say this ain't nothing, let's go get some now.
 
Mostly face, although body shorts don’t feel so good either.

It has a lot to do with your composure and your structure.

You need to take the hit where your head and neck is strong.

So all the obvious stuff like making sure your head is angled forwards enough that your neck muscles are able to take the impact. Not so far forwards uppercuts land flush.

So basic guard is hand up protecting your chin. Looking through your eyebrows. And head centered towards the other guy.

But also less obvious stuff like flinching out of the way of a punch. And reaching to punch the other guy. Will break that structure. As well as breathing with your mouth open at the wrong time.

And building you neck strength and flexibility will also help.

I don't roll by the way.

I tend to keep structure and let the punch move my whole body and basically walk.
 
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Hey good question. A lot of students have this issue. Some never get over it and it makes it hard to train them. You spar and they're trying as hard as they can to stay out of range and keep their heads back to avoid being hit there and it just isn't working for anyone.

I am not sure how to tell you to 'face' the fear, but if it helps, understand that you're going to get hit, and it's going to hurt. We're not masochists, we don't like to get hit, we don't enjoy pain. We're likewise not sadists, we don't get our thrills from hurting people.

But in addition to martial arts skills, how you take risk, accept pain, and work within that framework will define how well you can defend yourself in a real physical fight.

Some interesting things about pain.

If you're feeling it, you're alive. Not unconscious, not dead. Not yet, anyway. That means you might be able to stop those things from happening.

Pain informs us and keeps us from doing dangerous stuff. Didn't throw up your block fast enough? Well, this might motivate you to do so the next time, right?

If you listen to pain, you will discover that you can push through most pain. Not all pain and not everybody, but mostly. I had a toothache from an infected tooth a couple years ago that took me past what I could accept and roll with - but otherwise I've taken some shots in the dojo and you know what? It's only pain. It's a thing. It hurts. I hate it. Owy owy owy. Dang. Other curse words. But it informs, it motivates, and it gives me something to internalize.

I was in a tournament and I foolishly tried to block a front snap kick with an open hand. Blew my glove off my hand and broke all my fingers except my thumb. I immediately collapsed in a heap on the mat. They had to stop the match and tend to me. Finally I had them strap my glove back on, held my busted hand to my abdomen and finished the match one-handed. Won third place by disqualification; my opponent was so frustrated that he could not get past my one-armed defense that he broke a rule and leaped up in the air and delivered a superman punch through my guard as hard as he could. I considered that a win myself; I pushed him past sportsmanship because he could not defeat me any other way. I drove home four hours cradling a busted hand though. Took months to heal. Still got the trophy.

What's the point. Hmmm. Pain hurts. But pain by itself does not kill. Don't try to get hit, but accept that it's going to happen, it's going to suck, and it's a defining moment. You can be scared of it or you can say this ain't nothing, let's go get some now.

I love that story, you one handed guy, you.
 
Get hit. A bunch.

You find out after a while that it's not that big a deal.

Peace favor your sword (mobile)
That’s it. Once you get hit hard a few times, you’ll realize you’re not made out of glass and you can keep going. At least if you actually hit hard enough in sparring instead of that light tapping that’s a bit too common.

Experience teaches you how to deal with when you’re actually hit. There’s no substitute for experience.

Edit: Not the head though. Getting hit hard in the head over and over just teaches you how to get good at being consussed. Not a good thing at all. Especially long term.
 
Thinking about this some more....I think all you have to do is keep training.
 
Get hit. A bunch.

You find out after a while that it's not that big a deal.

This. You'll also learn how to move to absorb the strike, to some extent.
But mostly you learn that getting hit isn't a big deal, generally speaking.
 
Some great responses already :). Yep, no substitute for getting hit, but progressively is important. I've seen too many times higher grades 'beating up' lower grades, and it teaches them nothing. They learn bad habits and basically learn to curl up into a ball while being hit, go into fear/protect mode, and mentally it doesn't help them in sparring.

Might be worth asking a training partner or instructor to do a drill with you, where you just stand there in normal or fighting stance, and just them hit you reeeeeally lightly. Seriously, just tapping you. Then when you feel ready, get them to hit a bit harder, and harder. The point of this is not to reach knockout power, but just get a feel for it. To get used to the sensation. There may be a bit of pain, but you'll realise that it's not the end of the world.

And yes, the absolute most important thing you learn is that you're not made of glass. That you can be hit and that "oh, I'm actually okay." I'd say this mental aspect is the most crucial to learn and become embedded within you.
 
Some great responses already :). Yep, no substitute for getting hit, but progressively is important. I've seen too many times higher grades 'beating up' lower grades, and it teaches them nothing. They learn bad habits and basically learn to curl up into a ball while being hit, go into fear/protect mode, and mentally it doesn't help them in sparring.

Might be worth asking a training partner or instructor to do a drill with you, where you just stand there in normal or fighting stance, and just them hit you reeeeeally lightly. Seriously, just tapping you. Then when you feel ready, get them to hit a bit harder, and harder. The point of this is not to reach knockout power, but just get a feel for it. To get used to the sensation. There may be a bit of pain, but you'll realise that it's not the end of the world.

And yes, the absolute most important thing you learn is that you're not made of glass. That you can be hit and that "oh, I'm actually okay." I'd say this mental aspect is the most crucial to learn and become embedded within you.
In my bare knuckle days, it was funny (in a sadistic way) to see people get hit for the first time. I mean take a solid hit. People would be rolling around on the ground like the world was going to end. And they’d expect everyone to come over and see if they were alright. After a few times, they’d realize they were ok. Then it became a pride thing where they weren’t going to be “that guy.”

I had some of that from my wrestling days; the get up and keep going mentality; but getting hit wasn’t the same exact thing as getting punched or kicked.

My teacher was fine with the newbies doing that when they first started. He knew it was part of the learning curve.

But always going too hard with new people, yeah. It’s really counterproductive. They develop some bad habits that take longer to undo. That was a big criticism of how things went early on when I started. We were put into bare knuckle sparring against everyone from day 1. And experienced guys didn’t take it easy on you. It was the throw them in the deep end to teach them how to swim mentality. That’s a big reason why Kyokushin and offshoots didn’t have a lot of people coming back after their first class.

Kaicho actually talked about that in his autobiography. He said he wonders how many great students he lost over the years because of that mentality/training style. I’ve heard a lot of Kyokushin schools have smartened up and figured out the meaning of progression. Bare knuckle is a great thing, as long as it’s a thing one builds up to rather than thrown right into it from day one like it used to be. There’s still quite a few of the old purists out there though.
 
Hey guys, I sometimes struggle with fear of getting hit, but I don’t want let it affect me, especially when it comes to sparring.

How do you guys face this fear?
With all the great posts, you know there is a consistent theme. Exposure to the element. Another example is how repeated exposure to hot or cold weather acclimates you to a given environment. That is the physical familiarity that comes with repetition and practice. A big, big part here is training. Learning how to slip or evade a punch.
I think the bigger element, and where you may be having trouble, is in the mental component. Some people start their training with zero physical confrontation exposure so it is totally alien to them. This is also where the repetition of being hit comes in. You will consciously have to work on not freezing up. For some people working on the slips and fades in slow motion helps, eventually working up to full speed.
A true story; there were two police officers in middle TN that went to the same domestic violence call. It was later discovered that the house had over 150 pistols and long arms inside. The male in the house was firing at the officers while another weapon was being reloaded by his wife (the whole story got really weird). One officer was shot nine times while trying to move to cover. He lived I fully believe by sheer will power. Another officer got shot in the leg by a round that glanced off the pavement. He absolutely freaked out, believing he was going to die. He did. Not from the bullet but because he lost control of his faculties so badly, he had a heart attack.
So work on the mental component of being hit. Don't let it be the big scary monster that it may seem like right now. Repetition and exposure, repetition and exposure, repetition and exposure. The formula is not fancy or a big secret. But how you process the moment is where the "magic" happens.
Let us know how it goes.
 
In my bare knuckle days, it was funny (in a sadistic way) to see people get hit for the first time. I mean take a solid hit. People would be rolling around on the ground like the world was going to end. And they’d expect everyone to come over and see if they were alright. After a few times, they’d realize they were ok. Then it became a pride thing where they weren’t going to be “that guy.”

I had some of that from my wrestling days; the get up and keep going mentality; but getting hit wasn’t the same exact thing as getting punched or kicked.

My teacher was fine with the newbies doing that when they first started. He knew it was part of the learning curve.

But always going too hard with new people, yeah. It’s really counterproductive. They develop some bad habits that take longer to undo. That was a big criticism of how things went early on when I started. We were put into bare knuckle sparring against everyone from day 1. And experienced guys didn’t take it easy on you. It was the throw them in the deep end to teach them how to swim mentality. That’s a big reason why Kyokushin and offshoots didn’t have a lot of people coming back after their first class.

Kaicho actually talked about that in his autobiography. He said he wonders how many great students he lost over the years because of that mentality/training style. I’ve heard a lot of Kyokushin schools have smartened up and figured out the meaning of progression. Bare knuckle is a great thing, as long as it’s a thing one builds up to rather than thrown right into it from day one like it used to be. There’s still quite a few of the old purists out there though.
Something about this response reminded me of a concern/question that I've got. Do you lose your ability to take a hit well over time, if you haven't been hit? Obviously some of it will go away with aging, but when you stop training in a striking style, or a hard striking style, after a couple years can you still take a hit, and if not does it take a while to get that 'toughness' back?

I quoted JR's post because it's the one that reminded me of the question, but it's an open question to anyone.
 
Hey guys, I sometimes struggle with fear of getting hit, but I don’t want let it affect me, especially when it comes to sparring.

How do you guys face this fear?
For me accept the truth that I'm going to get hit and there's nothing I can do to stop the other person from hitting me. Thinking about it this way allows me to then focus on my real fear. It's not that I'm afraid of being hit, it's that I'm afraid of being hit really hard.

So if I can't stop someone from hitting me, then maybe I can reduce the effectiveness of their punch or kick so that it doesn't land hard or hurt. Here are my solutions to that.
Solution 1: Condition my body so that it is more resistance to punches and kicks.

Solution 2: learn the weak points of a punch and a kick then learn how to redirect and interrupt strikes.

Solution 3: learn the mechanics of punches and kicks. This will help me to be better at avoid them.

Solution 4: Work hard with Solutions 1-3

Solution 5: Trust that if I use Solutions 1-4 that everything will be fine and I'll no longer be afraid of being hit.


Am I afraid of getting hit really hard now? Because of my training it's more that I don't like it, than I'm afraid of it. I still get butterflies and nervous when I spar or when I get into a confrontation on the street, but to me that's natural. Once my focus turns on all of that vanishes.

The moment that you accept that you are going to get hit is the moment you'll start doing things to manage that reality.
 
Something about this response reminded me of a concern/question that I've got. Do you lose your ability to take a hit well over time, if you haven't been hit? Obviously some of it will go away with aging, but when you stop training in a striking style, or a hard striking style, after a couple years can you still take a hit, and if not does it take a while to get that 'toughness' back?

I quoted JR's post because it's the one that reminded me of the question, but it's an open question to anyone.
I agree, it is the "riding a bicycle" analogy. You never forget how but your senses and motor skill diminish.
I also think there is a bad element very similar to this that is caused by too much light sparring. You do not register a hit as something you should defend.
 

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