Do you have an upcoming match? Perhaps you’re interested in improving your self defense skills just in case of an unfortunate situation. Whether you’re looking to improve your chances of winning a match or ensuring your safety, let us help you gain that upper hand by answering some questions and sharing a few tips with you.
Prepare for Your Fight
Being prepared is what’s going to keep you going till that final bell if necessary. There’s a reason why professional fighters put so much of their time into training. “By failing to prepare, you’re preparing to fail” – this simple quote from Benjamin Franklin applies in every aspect of life.
It’s all about readiness, both physical and mental. Below are a few steps you can take to prepare yourself:
Natural talent alone doesn’t provide a guaranteed victory, you need endurance and strength as well. Your training will ultimately define the success of your fight.
During a fight, you push your body to the fullest, and you want to ensure that it’s up for the task. Getting tired way before your opponent is one of the worst feelings you can have during a fight. You’re out of breath but your opponent is still going strong – who do you think will win?
Whether it’s a street fight or a professional bout, endurance is the fundamental base of the game. Luckily, there are plenty of ways to build up your fighting endurance, given that you’re prepared and determined to put time and effort to develop. Let’s break it down into the two categories – physical and mental.
Building Physical Endurance
Your physical endurance is all about your body. Here, there are four things you should think of – cardiovascular, muscle conditioning, muscle memory, and technique.
Cardio is what’s going to help you last longer during the fight. When working on your cardio, you’re increasing your body’s heart and lung capacity. The extra oxygen then helps your muscles create energy by burning the glucose (sugar) inside your blood.
There are many ways to do this. You can go running, hop on a bike, or do some sparring. As long as you’re raising your heart rate and pushing yourself, you’re good.
But of course, we can’t forget your muscles. Muscle conditioning and memory are important as well.
During a fight, your muscles endure a lot of stress. You need to make sure your core, legs, back, and arms can carry you to the end. Include lots of exercises into your routine focusing on the individual muscle groups.
Boxers often turn to shadowboxing, where you stand in front of a mirror, sort of sparring with yourself. This is useful in numerous ways – it builds endurance, conditions your muscles and helps with muscle memory.
Muscle memory develops when you keep repeating the same movements until it becomes ingrained in your brain – almost as second nature. This will help you implement the moves you’ve practiced more easily in adrenaline filled moments, such as fights.
Your technique is the last thing I’ll mention here. This comes when you try new moves to see which style and stance fits you the best.
The best way to develop your technique is by getting a trainer, someone with more experience. A trainer can help point out what you’re doing wrong and help you correct it – before you develop an incorrect/ineffective ones! The importance of proper techniques can’t be overemphasized. Long-term habits become difficult to modify, so make sure you start off right before the bad techniques become your muscle memory!
Building Mental Endurance
Mental endurance means being in control of your mind during the fight. Your mind is a strong weapon when you use it correctly. Here are two things you should practice—relaxation and attitude.
Learning how to relax your mind is crucial. Panicking while getting hit will only tire you more.
It’s all about self-respect and knowing your limit. I know this can be hard during a fight since your adrenaline is pumping and your brain may going a mile a minute. But slowing down your movements and taking a brief second to absorb your surroundings will help you.
Then once you enter your fight, your mind knows how to stay relaxed during a stressful situation. This gives you time to remember your strategy and implement it as practiced, as opposed to throwing punches left and right without a plan.
The next thing is your attitude. At some point, your body will force you to focus on its draining energy stores. You need to be able to turn this attitude around.
Focusing on the fact that soon your legs will become jelly, and the gloves cement will weigh you down. Instead, try to tell yourself that you’re going to use this last energy to the fullest. Keep practicing this so it comes naturally during your fight.
2. Study Yourself
Get a buddy to record you during a training session. After you’ve finished, watch the video and study your technique and flaws. Ask your friend and/or coach for constructive criticism. Others may be able to catch and notice things you may not have considered. This requires you to be a bit self-critical; acknowledge your mistakes and correct them.
3. Know Your Rival
Knowing a bit about the person you’re up against can help you gain the upper hand. Don’t worry, you don’t have to stalk them (please don’t do that). But, have a look around to see if you can find a video of a fight.
Is your opponent fast on their feet? Do they charge as soon as the time starts? Do they have a “tell” before making certain moves? People form patterns of behavior, often predictable. Have a look at their fighting technique so you can develop a strategy.
If this is your first time fighting, I highly recommend enlisting the help of a trainer, or a buddy with experience. Below, we’ve got three different scenarios to give you an idea:
Stand Up Striking
If you’re striking, you don’t want to be the one recklessly throwing punches. A stand-up fight is where you’re the most susceptible to a knockout. Even if you’re the more experienced fighter than your opponent, one “lucky” punch is all the other person needs to get the wind knocked out of you. Always keep your defense up.
There’s always the newbie, an untrained fighter who keeps the chin up, hands (guard) down, and continues throwing ineffective punches. If you’re up against an opponent like this, you’re lucky. All you have to do is tire him out and then serve a knockout punch.
However, if your opponent has more experience, focus on your defense. Take a few moments figuring out his strategy and then counter punch when he’s most vulnerable.
This is usually during a missed punch. For example, dig under his hook and take him out with an uppercut to the chin. Always be observing to your opponent’s movement – remember to know the patterns for clues.
What’s also crucial is your stance. A good fighting stance will prevent your rival from knocking you over too easily. It also minimizes access to the big areas where a hit can hurt you such as the stomach, head, and neck.
How to Achieve a Proper Fighting Stance
- Keep your hands up near your face—they should be alert and active. Relax your shoulders and don’t freeze up.
- Stand with your feet shoulder length apart. One foot behind the other—keep the rear foot at a 45-degree angle.
- Tuck your chin downwards toward your chest. This will minimize your chances of getting knocked out.
- Stay light and alert on your feet. Think Muhammed Ali, always keep as little weight as possible in your feet.
- Face forward and maintain eye contact. Keep your eyes on your opponent at all times, avoid flinching when he charges.
This is where people with training in grappling martial arts, such as BJJ, thrive. If you’re in a controlled fight, then there’s likely some ground rules to follow. This could be different body zones that you’re not allowed to hit such as the groin or to poke in the eyes. Obviously, no such rules apply in cases of self defense.
Regardless of the circumstances of your fight, the thing you should focus on is getting into the dominant position. This would likely be in a mount position. Here are two examples.
In this position, you basically got all the power and can cause a great deal of damage. It’s where you’ve got the person down on his back and you’re sitting on top. From here, you can throw different combinations—his hand will likely be busy protecting his face.
Throw a punch or use your elbow. But be mindful. Remember, you’ve got the power here but you don’t want to cause serious injuries such as brain damage or even death.
Eventually, he’ll likely try to roll over onto his stomach. Fight to stay in your dominant position and avoid falling over.
Once your opponent is on his back, you’ve got the opportunity to get a submission and end the fight. Most fighters recommend a rear naked choke. These are generally fast and effective.
To do this, you cling on your opponent’s back and bring him into a chokehold. Squeeze with your arms until he submits. As soon as he taps you, ease your grip—don’t be the guy who chokes their opponent unconscious.
However, please keep in mind that if you’ve never done a chokehold before, it’s probably not the move to go for. Do your research and training beforehand.
Fighting Someone Larger Than You
In a fight, the bigger opponent usually has the advantage – weight, height, and often power (since it correlates to weight and momentum). Luckily, there are still ways to deal with the situation.
Be the First to Charge
Putting yourself in the position as the aggressor might give you the advantage. Additionally, if you’re able to get in a hard punch, you could knock him out and end the fight.
Either way, being the first to charge and succeed in landing a clean punch can rock your rival. In turn, this will open more windows of opportunity for further punches.
Don’t let your guard down, and continue being the dominant fighter. But remember to be smart—avoid recklessly flapping your arms. Put some thought behind every punch.
Use Your Strengths
Being the smaller fighter doesn’t have to be a disadvantage, especially if you know how to use your size. Chances are that you’re a lot quicker than your larger rival.
Utilize your strengths more effectively against someone larger than you. You’re likely to be more agile and faster than someone significantly larger in size. Use your quickness to your advantage, along with your other skills.
If you’re more comfortable as a striker, being faster can help you in landing more punches/kicks and avoid attacks. Stay light on your feet, “dance” around your opponent. Let your opponent tire out before you implement your finishing blows.
If you’re a natural grappler, take the fight to the ground. Remember your size and weight are not as important as techniques in submission arts. Remember when Royce Gracie expertly took down and submitted his opponent that was both taller and outweighed him by more than 50 lbs? Again, this is why proper techniques and muscle memory you earn from practice will give you the biggest edge.
Muay Thai Kicks
A larger size generally means a longer punching range. Unless you’re feeling brave, avoid getting too close. In this case, use the longest limbs of your body – legs!
You can reach a lot farther with a kick, rather than a punch. If you’re facing a larger opponent, practice your kicks. Muay Thai teep, also known as push kick, can be compared to a jab in boxing, except you use your leg to create space between you and your opponent. Also, the low kicks to the knees, calves, and inner thighs are highly effective in causing debilitating damage. As always, remember any rules that may be in place for organized sports.
As your opponent is about to attack you with a combination, you counter him with your leg, pushing him back. If you’re strong enough, you’ll likely throw him off balance. However, you need to practice your own balance so you’re not the one falling backwards.
Fighting is not for everyone and there are no all-in-one blueprint when it comes to the question “how to win a fight.” But if you make sure to properly prepare by training, building endurance, and practice different techniques, you greatly increase your chances.
Remember to always keep your guard up, observe your opponent’s moves, plan strategies, implement actions, evaluate results, and adapt accordingly.