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Don't Waste Yourself... Or Your Strikes



In combative sports such as boxing, mixed martial arts, and western fencing, a lot of novices develop or get into the habit of throwing kicks and punches from out of distance, even if they know perfectly well that they will end up not hitting anything except air (I’m not talking about using feints or throwing false attacks).


The boxing champion Freddie Mills referred to this as “punch wasting,” and it’s a common occurrence amongst many beginners when they’re sparring. Why do they do this? The primary reason is simply due to lack of experience. Beginners haven’t spent the time training to develop the calmness and coolness during a sparring session to know or anticipate when to hit. This is often combined with nervousness; the opponent flinches and they fire at every movement. They get the idea in their head that constantly throwing strikes will stop their opponent from attacking them, which is a falsehood, because a good and knowledgeable opponent won’t react at all to strikes that they know stand no chance of reaching them.


In addition to nervousness, one of the major factors that can lead to strike wasting is poor judgment of distance. Proper distance is crucial, and the student or fighter must learn to know when they’re in distance. Incorrect evaluation can make the difference between a strike becoming a complete miss, a feather-like flick, a shoving, pushing blow, or an explosive, devastating blow.


“Strike wasting” is a tactical fault. It expends a fighter’s energy and can open them up to all sorts of counteractions from a knowledgeable opponent who recognizes their weakness and can take advantage of it. Whether you’re a novice or a more experienced fighter, if you find yourself falling prey to strike wasting, don’t freak out. Recognize that it’s something that can be eradicated through proper training. The following training aids can help you do so:


·      Cultivate a precise evaluation of your striking distance so that you don’t waste your strikes. Make it instinctive, and accurate. Develop keenness of eye and readiness of observation.


·      Don’t mistake activity for accomplishment, strikes thrown does not usually equal strikes landed. Know when to “pull the trigger” and fire your strikes. Make every one count. Stay busy, but with purpose.



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