There’s a Filipino martial arts demonstration I saw once which really impressed me.
A teacher and his student stood facing each other, and the student, armed with stick in hand, was swinging the stick in fast, powerful figure 8’s in the air ahead of him. The teacher stood just out of range and waiting impassively. Then slowly – almost leisurely – he walked towards his student, got into close range, and calmly disarmed him.
Now of course this was a demonstration and not a real fight. And of course the student wasn’t really trying to club his instructor in the temple with his stick. And of course in a real confrontation against a stick-wielding attacker I suggest sprinting, either away from your attacker or towards him, crossing no-man’s land as fast as humanly possible!
Nevertheless, demonstration of a slow stroll into close range against a fast-moving stick was impressive and made a point; if your timing is great then you don’t need to be nearly as fast!
It turns out that there’s a trick to this demonstration, but even though it’s a trick you can still get some really important lessons out of it.
First let’s break this trick down so you can try it at home…
In a Filipino martial arts context, a figure 8 pattern essentially consists of a ‘number one’ strike (a right forehand roughly at 45 degrees) followed by a ‘number two’ strike (a left backhand cutting down at about 45 degrees).
Number one, number two, number one, number two… It’s a combination that shows up a LOT in stickfighting.
The secret, if you want to enter against the number two strike, is to time your movement off the number one.
Or, conversely, if you want to crash in against the number one strike, then time your movement off of the number two.
And this principle of countering the second movement doesn’t only just apply to stick fighting! It applies to counter-fighting in all combat sports.
For example, the jab cross is one of the most common combinations in boxing. If you learn to recognise when your opponent is setting up this combo then you can use the jab to tell you that a cross is coming.
Your opponent jabs (number one) and you counter the next shot: the right cross (number two).
These two examples – crashing against a stick, and countering the cross by timing off the jab – are broken down in more detail in the following video that I shot with my friend and training partner Ritchie Yip:
In the video we talked about this principle in stick fighting and kickboxing contexts, but it also applies in judo, wrestling, Muay Thai, fencing, kyokoshin and all forms combat sports with real resistance.
The famous boxing coach Freddy Roach summed it up when he said, “It’s a lot easier to counter when you know what punch is coming.”
Learning to recognise the common combinations your opponent might use will help you develop great timing. And great timing makes you look fast!
“It’s a lot easier to counter when you know what punch is coming.” Words of wisdom from Freddy Roach, one of the best trainers in boxing. He’s talking about setting up your opponent so he throws a known punch that you can then counter and look like a God, but it applies to jiu-jitsu, martial arts and a lot of life in general. #freddyroach #boxing #quotes #quotestotrainby