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Methods of Attacking

In reality, whether it is an army, an individual in a bar, or on the street. The most common, and most successful attack is the surprise attack.  Let’s face it the hardest attack to defend is one you don’t know is coming. You need to understand that fighting is about winning and destroying your your enemy. You also want to reduce your chances of injury, or losing. Anyone that doesn’t have this mind set (or is at least aware of it), doesn’t survive long in the real world. If anyone thinks that cowboys actually went out in the street at high noon and faced off in a fair fight, they would be wrong.

Examples of armies using this approach would be the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, the US attacking Iraq. In the latter case even if a declaration of war happens first, you don’t warn the enemy where and when you’re going to attack them. Think of sentry removal techniques as part of an operation. You sneak up on, and kill the sentry before they know you’re their. I can’t think of any military operation in history where they didn’t try to use the element of surprise in their attack if it was possible.

The police certainly use the same approach when they go to arrest someone. Surprise, using overwhelming force are the only ways they attack people they are trying to arrest. I’ve never heard of any cop since the invention of the FBI, and J. Edgar Hoover who warned people, fought one-on- one, or used anything resembling a fair fight. At least not by choice.

Individuals using this approach would be said to sucker punch their opponent.  While in many cases they just come up and strike, in other cases they come up from behind and attack, in other cases there is a verbal confrontation first. As a general rule in the last case once words have been exchanged, and one person thinks the issue is resolved (The other person wants them to think it is resolved). If one person makes the mistake of turning and taking their eyes off the other guy, before they have backed off out of reach, they are easily attacked. These attacks are extremely common. In my experience all of these attacks are far more common then two guys facing off after a verbal exchange, going outside and engaging in mutual combat.

Moral and ethical issues aside Martial Artists/ Martial Arts Schools don’t teach the above approaches for many reasons. First we are generally teaching civilians. Civilians are subject to the rule of law. Governments/ Current Societies don’t tolerate their citizens going around attacking each other. Win lose or draw, if you use the above approaches you could end up in jail and/or civil court with a lawsuit. I will say though, that anyone willing to engage you in a fight isn’t particularly concerned about the law at that point.

Sometimes people are warned before the attack, and have time to prepare. This is true of armies as well as individuals.  With two armies, or two individuals lined up facing each other with all weapons ready, and out of each others reach, successful attacking with minimal risk can be a challenge. To attack you have to cross the distance between yourself, and your enemy. This puts you in transition, and makes you vulnerable.

If martial arts is about anything, it is about deception, and being able to predict your opponents reactions. With that in mind the first two things I want to talk about are fakes and feints.

A fake is something that you do, to make them think you’re doing something. Examples of this could be a head fake, to make them think your moving in a direction, it could be a look, or a sound. You are looking for a reaction from your opponent that you can capitalize on.

A feint is something you do that they must defend against.  The idea with a feint is to attack a target that they have to move their defenses to protect against, which exposes another opening for you to attack. The feint doesn’t have to be particularly strong, it just has to make them defend. For example if I really wanted to hit them in the head I might feint at the legs or midsection. As they drop their hands to defend the feint, I hit my intended target. Their are many variations of this, both for individuals, and for armies.

Another benefit of using a fake or feint, is that it can tell you what your opponents subconscious tendency is for defense. If you can predict how your opponent will react to an attack, you can plan the right type of attack to be successful. This is especially helpful in sport competition.

For example if you throw a fake/feint a time or so, and every time your opponent charges you up the middle, or zig-zags to where you were, jamming/attacking you as his counter to your technique,  it tells you how and where to hit him. In this instance you would throw the fake/feint and immediately step back at an angle to one side or the other, while throwing you real technique to the spot you just vacated, knowing your opponent is going to occupy it. He’ll run right into the technique, adding to your power.

If on the other hand every time you feint/fake he holds his ground looking to block and counter, your approach to attacking must be different.  You don’t want to come straight up the middle because you’d be playing into his strength.  Two methods of closing the gap would be to use an angular attack, or a broken rhythm attack.

Angular attacks are just that, you want to set him up so that your attack comes in from an angle, and you aren’t directly in front of him.

Broken rhythm attacks make use of timing, and syncopation.  People all have two arms and two legs. So they move in a rhythm. One and Two, and One and Two, etc..  So the idea behind a broken rhythm attack is to set up a rhythm, and then catch them on the half beat with your attack.

Now if you notice that every time you throw a feint/fake your opponent backs off or runs away, you need a different approach. In this case you need to charge straight up the middle until you overwhelm them.

Another approach to minimize your risk, and improve your chances of success is to catch them in transition. Catching someone in transition is a very good method of closing the gap. Catching them in transition gives you a split second advantage during your attack where they have to adjust before they can counter. You can use any kind of transition.

For example if you are lined up in front of your opponent move to either the left or right a step. Your opponent will step to adjust, because they will feel uncomfortable not facing you.  Move a few times and watch as they move to keep facing you.  Then move again, and quickly attack while they are trying to adjust their position. They will need to finish setting before they can defend. this gives you an edge on your attack.

You can use virtually any kind of transition. You can use their breathing. Time it so when they exhale you attack. They will have to inhale first to move with power. You could use the blinking of their eye. I really like guys that bounce up an down, mimicking a boxer. As they bounce and are going up off their feet into the air, they can’t move until they come back down and their feet are on the ground. Any form of movement, including thoughts are transitions that can give you a split second before they can effectively defend.

There are other forms of attacks, but you can and should combine as many of the above methods of attack as you can. For example combing an angular attack with catching someone in transition is better then using just one or the other method.

Now here is my disclaimer I do not advocate attacking anyone for any reason other then in a sport competition following the established rules of that competition. With that said I think there is a lot to think about on the topic.

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