Fighting Ranges of Jeet Kune Do, Part 2

California-based JKD instructor Ralph Bustamante concludes his discussion of how the high, middle and low ranges of combat can be exploited in a self-defense situation.

Successfully using the jeet kune do ranges mentioned in Part 1 of this article doesn't necessarily mean you have to fight and defeat your opponent using a range with which you're uncomfortable. Instead, it means you use a specific range to create hesitation, then switch to any range you like to finish the job, Ralph Bustamante said. “Whether you hit him or he hits you, there's hesitation," Ralph Bustamante continued. “And that means there's an opening for your follow-up.


A lot of people think they can hit once and that'll be enough. For example, many beginner boxers will hit their opponent and stand back because they're proud of it. And on the street, you see people take a lot of pride in themselves when they hit someone." Of course, you shouldn't allow yourself to get hit just to create a moment of hesitation, Ralph Bustamante said. But if it does happen, don't go into shock. “One hit is generally not going to knock you out," he said. “So take advantage of it. It opens the door so you can change the ranges and do whatever you're trained to do.

High Range “The high range is basically from the shoulders up," Ralph Bustamante said. “Street fighters have a tendency to hit the neck, chin and nose areas. Sometimes they try to rupture an eardrum if they know what they're doing." When you're confronted with a high-range attack, immediately switch to another range. “If you're in a boxing mode, go to the midsection," he said. “If you're into kicking, go to the legs or shins, or use your knee to the midsection." If the guy attacks high, does it matter whether you go to his middle or low range? “In a street fight, go to whatever target you can get to first," Ralph Bustamante recommended. As Bruce Lee said, use your closest weapon to strike his closest target. Remember that it's best to move to a jeet kune do range your attacker isn't comfortable with. Because a lot of street fighters and boxers have experience dealing with blows to the gut, you might want to avoid that. “If he's comfortable with it, you should not be there," Ralph Bustamante said. “Instead, you can hit the shin, stomp on the foot or hit the groin.

Middle Range The middle range includes the sternum, ribs and stomach. “Getting hit in those areas hurts, and it can take you out of commission," Ralph Bustamante said. “If a person tries to punch you in the middle range, he has to lower his hands," he continued. “Then you can go low or high. I feel more comfortable going high — countering with a strike to the nose or eyes. Remember that you don't want to just slug the guy in the head and risk breaking your own hand." A lot of fighters, especially those who have been influenced by muay Thai, love to kick to the legs, but they will strike higher if the opportunity presents itself, Ralph Bustamante said. Because such a fighter is probably protecting his head while blasting your middle range, you may want to aim for his low range. “You can try to take out his supporting leg, but it may be hard to hit because you have to clear his kicking leg to get to it," he said. “Or you could block the kick with a knee destruction or sidestep and kick low.

Low Range The low range includes all targets below the waist. Obviously, they are most easily attacked with the legs. “There are times when an attacker will kick low, and you can get him in the middle range with a cross to the sternum," Ralph Bustamante said. “It'll catch him off-guard." In a common street-attack scenario, your opponent will duck his head and try to tackle you like a football player, Ralph Bustamante said. “Most people don't realize that all they have to do is bring up the knee and attack a different range — the face and chest are usually exposed. It can be a rude awakening." Backing up and shoving the attacker's head down also works well, but people usually don't think of it, Ralph Bustamante said. “That means it will take a little more training. The easiest thing is just to bring up the knee and use your survival instinct to protect yourself." Be forewarned that with a very low tackle, you're probably going to go down, Ralph Bustamante said. “If the person comes in low enough, that means he's already prepared himself. Therefore, you have to know how to fall properly and follow up. The takedown can be severe, and it can tweak your knees. And if he comes in below the knees, you can't knee him because your knees move up. When you go down, be prepared to use bicycle-type kicks to his high range to get out." And as grapplers keep reminding the martial arts world, you need be comfortable on the ground, Ralph Bustamante said. “It should be a priority with all martial artists.

Advanced Skills When you get skilled at changing ranges as described above, should you consider changing more than once in the same fight? For example, if the attacker punches at your face, should you punch to his middle range, then kick to his low range and possibly move back to his middle range? “Confusion is always your ally," Ralph Bustamante said. “But if something is working well, it's hard to say to go to something else. It's up to you and how you feel at the time. The reaction you get from the assailant dictates what you do next. If you're not getting the answer you want, you have to change things again." That's where women have an advantage over men, Ralph Bustamante said. “They don't try to compete because they know they can't outmuscle a man. They start to look for those other things that are available. That's the way men should look at it, also.

Resources To read Part 1 of this article, go here.

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