Thursday, October 25, 2012

jab, cross, jab...

More and more I am thinking about multiple punch defense. Punches rarely come in one shot, yet often we practice against this scenario. It is definately a good starting point. After all, how can we deal with two strikes if we are unaware of how to protect ourselves against just one? That said, I worry sometimes many teachers focus on one-punch attacks--overlooking a possible situation to cope with outside the dojo. We should do exercises protecting ourselves from multiple strikes: some where we step back and get distance (a possible flinch situation); and other excercises where we try to get inside before the attack, or redirect the attack soon thereafter.

The other area I wonder about is jab defense. A jab is an uncommitted attack but potentially devastating. It is both underused, in my opinion, and under studied from a defensive point of view. Although an improper jab leaves a hole in the defense of the opponent (especially if not retracted fast enough), it can be difficult to read and still leaves bigger weapons available to your opponent, i.e. back arm and legs. To me, it is also a warning sign that the attacker is not ignorant to combat strategy in general. A jab, to be studied defensively, should be learned as a weapon as well.


  1. I have had similar concerns about my karate training lacking experience with dealing with multi-punch combinations. You are absolutely right about a jab being a strong sign that your attacker is capable. My concerns were so great in fact that I took Wing Chun to learn trapping and controlling flurries. But I see now in karate that we don't practice to defend against combinations because the mindset is very different. Karate theory believes that you should train to stop and counter the first hand that moves into your space all the time. Even if it is a jab-cross, you should be moving off embusen with sabaki and cutting off any combinations with your counter. Take this quote from Choki Motobu for example. "One cannot use continuous attacks against true karate. That is because the blocks of true karate make it impossible for the opponent to launch a second attack." In old karate, they trained to sense the precise moment the first attack was coming and act upon it and control the opponent right away. You wouldn't need to worry about the second punch if you were elbowing him in the sternum after the first. Needless to say, we don't train like that today. We train to expect exchanges of techniques from both sides, like in kumite or a boxing match. But that's not what karate is meant to look like.

  2. really good comments... made me think... a lot...

  3. Just to give my two cents...I think the issue isn't responding to the multiple punches with a technique but with a mindset. You are defensive and you need to turn the tide so your opponent is on the defensive. That first jab should result in an immediate response - move so their target has to change, parry or deflect that attack, and counter with another limb (or two).