Detailed Drills: Starting Positions

Welcome to another Detailed Drills post! All of today’s drills involve a normal sparring match but with different starting positions. If you think about other sports, many of them practice starting in less than ideal circumstances. For example, wrestlers often practice already in a hold and trying to escape. These drills follow that same train of thought. If you practice from different and disadvantaged positions, you’ll be more ready if you find yourself in them. This is doubly true for self-defense – you’ll rarely find yourself in a fighting stance 6 feet away from a would-be attacker!

Front to Front

front front.png

Participants start a match in ready stances facing each other and standing so they are almost touching. This will teach reaction speed because at this distance the first one to move will have an advantage. This will also develop comfort at close range and how to quickly get sideways and bring your hands up.

Back to Back

back back.png

Participants start a match in ready stances except they are standing back to back. This drill is similar to the previous one but it also trains awareness and body positioning. As a tip try shooting your hips backwards to knock the opponent off balance. Make sure you turn quickly and raise the hands immediately. Throwing a rear or back kick to start is a good strategy too, but make sure you look first!

Front to Back

front back.png

One participant starts behind the other. Make sure the disadvantaged participant cannot see their opponent in a mirror.

If you start with the advantage, keep it! The point is yours to lose in this situation. Don’t be timid or reactionary – strike before they can turn to look.

If your back is to your opponent, step forward and throw a rear or back kick to create space. Turn quickly and raise your hands as you turn.

Standing VS Floor

floor stand

One participant starts on the ground and must return to their feet before they can score a point. For advanced students allow kicks to be thrown from the floor (but only to legal targets). The standing participant should focus on maintaining the advantage. The participant on the floor should try to move away as they stand to avoid getting scored on during the transition.

Floor VS Floor

floor floor

This one is a race! Start the match with both participants on the ground and in the same position (on their front or back). When the match begins, the person who stands quicker will have an advantage.

In self-defense, being able to get back to your feet quickly is a necessity, especially for people who don’t train in ground-fighting. 

Remember: move backwards as you stand to have more time, move forward as you stand to be more aggressive and try to score before you opponent is ready.

Keep It Interesting

These drills make it fun and interesting by adding variety, but they are also important training tools. Most of us start sparring matches outside of kick range, but most self-defense situations will be more in-your-face and surprising. Starting a match inside punching range is a valuable tool to prepare yourself. Starting on the floor is equally important. If you train primarily in a standing art, you need to be able to stand fast or realize you will lose on the ground.

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