We began discussing the Ten Considerations of Combat in an earlier post. Each of these considerations is of unique importance in fully understanding, and by extension properly responding to, any combat encounter. Today we will continue with considerations three and four. Positions and Maneuvers.
The positions of the combatants is a key determing factor in identifying the targets and weapons appropriate to the engagement. Understanding the concepts of Constant and Relative Centerline will allow the student to disect the opponent's position relative to the position of the student.
The opponent's position needs to be identified with regards to height, width, and depth zones, as well as the specific positions of the opponent's natural weapons.
Determing the height of the opponent is more than a mere determination of his stature. The student must determine whether he is standing, kneeling, crouching, slouching, etc. If the opponent appears to be slouching in his stance, it could be because he has pre loaded his legs to spring forward. It could also affect the power of the opponent's strikes.
Determing the width of the opponent's stance can help the student to understand which weapons are closest to his own targets, as well as what defensive maneuvers he may need to execute in order to defend against those weapons.
Determing the depth of the opponent's stance can help the student to understand whether the opponent intends fight or flight. An opponent with his legs spread far apart may be less prepared to flee, and by extension, more likely to stay in an escalating situation. An opponent who has drawn his stance in tighter may be preparing to flee, however, he may also be preparing to execute an offensive foot maneuver.
The position of the opponent's natural weapons is also important in determining what aggressive action to anticipate. Is the opponent prepared to execute a hand or foot strike? Has he raised his arms aggressively or defensively? Are his hands and feet within their natural range of motion?
Similarly, instinctual responses can affect the opponent's position. Ducking the chin and blading the body are both instinctual responses to aggression, as is raising the arms to protect the head. Identifying these changes in the opponent's position can help the student determine the escalating threat level. Finally the student must take into account the position of the opponent relative to the environment. Is he blocking a door the student could have escaped through? Is he near anything which could be used as a weapon? Is his position vulnerable in a way that could be exploited by the student, for instance near an obstruction or dangerous area? These are all important factors to be considered.
Just as range may determine whether or not to engage in conflict, positions are a determining factor in exactly how to do so.
Foot maneuvers are often overlooked, but are one of the most important aspects of any violent confrontation.
Just as stances are the basis of all effective technique, foot maneuvers are the basis of all effective technique execution. Being able to turn a static fighting stance into a mobile weapon is the key to efficacy.
Foot maneuvers can be used to advance, retreat, or reposition the key actors within the combat arena. Knowledge of the correct and appropriate application of foot maneuvers not only allows the student to move safely and effectively, it also allows the student to identify the opponent's maneuvers within the environment, and allows for the incorporation of sweeps, trips, and throws into the repositioning of those actors.
In identifying the opponent's foot maneuvers the student can attempt to find flaws within the opponent's technique, as well as opportunities for entry techniques. Does the opponent lift his feet and step through the environment, or does he shuffle or glide? If he lifts his feet, then perhaps he can be directed into an area littered with small obstructions which he may step on. Does he shift his weight more than is necessary? Does he bounce in his stance or stay low and solid? An understanding of weight distribution can assist the student in delivering throws and other off balancing techniques.
Foot maneuvers are more than just moving through the environment. They are also a way to sense the environment. A skilled practitioner can detect obstructions as he moves through the environment, and avoid them or incorporate them into his defense.
Beginner: Practice each of your first five foot maneuvers from a neutral bow. Incorporate hand and foot technique. Once you've practiced strikes with foot maneuvers in the air begin again with a focus shield.
Intermediate: Student A assumes a fighting stance. Student B circles Student A, striking available targets. Change positions. Alternate.
Advanced: Students A and B close in any standing grapple. Without breaking contact, Students compete using foot maneuvers and body positioning for a single pre-selected goal such as stomps, rear position, sweeps, throws, etc. Practice with increasing intensity, paying special attention to control and joint safety, especially around the knees.
Ground Fighting: Practice escaping and standing from mount, guard, side mount, north/south, scarf, reverse scarf, knee on stomach, and rear mount positions, using stand-up technique, box drill, and rolls. Practice defending while prone against a standing attacker. Student A lays on back. Student B circles in standing position. Student A maneuvers on ground to keep legs between their torso and Student B, while Student B attempts to move into kicking range of Student A's head. Alternate.