> Library

Always Attack...Even When You Are Defending
Simple mindset change improves your fighting ability.
 Related Resources
• Martial Arts: Beginners
• Martial Arts: Kung Fu
• Martial Arts: Tae Kwon Do
I'm lucky to have an instructor that will get down and dirty and exchange blows with us. In fact, that's one of Dave's primary teaching tenets--we don't throw kicks and punches into the air. Instead, we're always hitting someone else, usually in sparring drills.

It was after one of these drills when Dave asked me, "So, did you see what you were doing during that set?" I gingerly got up from the ground, wincing, and shook my head. "You're focusing on your defense so much that you forget to attack," said Dave.

Defense is Good, But Not Great

He was right. I've always been a counterpuncher, waiting for a break in the action to throw my attack. But, as Dave said, what happens if your opponent doesn't give you a break?

"Let's do it again, although this time, think 'Attack'!" said Dave. "Don't think, 'Oh no, here he comes, I've got to defend myself'. Instead, think, 'I'm attacking him'."

Keeping an Attacking Mindset

The next set worked much better. I was able to throw more shots and connect more than before. And oddly enough, I didn't get hit as much either.

Dave explained: "When you're attacking, the other guy has to keep track of your attacks as well as his own. It gives him less time to think about attacking you because he's got more to handle."

"When you're in an attacking mindset, you see openings easier. You get more shots in because you're ready to get more shots in when the openings occur."

Not Single-Mindedness on Attacking

Keeping an attacking mindset doesn't mean a single-mindedness on your attack. This is often a beginner's mistake, where you've just learned a particular technique, say a side kick, and are actively trying to use it. You're thinking to yourself, "I'm going to side kick him in the stomach. I'm going to use my side kick. I'm going to..." and then he pops you in the face.

What happened? You were so focused on the technique you were going to use, and the target area of your opponent, that you missed a couple of important things:

  1. You neglected to keep track of his attacks, and so your defense was bad
  2. You missed other openings in his defense, and thus missed out on using your other weapons (hands, other kicks, etc.)

An attacking mindset is being aware of attacking and your ability to do so at any time. Many martial artists are stuck in a "block, then punch" way of thinking. But what if the most effective thing to do, at that instant in time, is to throw your own attack? You might have to slip your opponent's punch, or take a body shot in exchange for landing your punch on his chin, but the balance of exchange might be worth it.

Tipping the Balance

Most sparring sets flow between attack and defense--you feel that your opponent is attacking more than you are. Then, you catch him off-balance, and you use his momentary disadvantage to start attacking more. It's like a tidal flow between the two of you. Attack, defend, attack, defend.

Keeping an attacking mindset allows you to tip this flow in your favor--by attacking just a bit more than your opponent, you'll get more shots in. The more shots you land, the better your chance of winning.


Previous Articles


All content copyright © 1999-2016 James Hom