Bill "Superfoot" Wallace teaches you how to use the art of evasion in this short course on the defensive component of dojo sparring and tournament fighting.

As a professional athlete, I made a living poking holes in other people’s defenses. When I was the one doing the defending, I preferred to use evasive techniques. I didn’t sidestep or block much; I leaned back or took a step back. No matter what my opponent threw at me or how hard, if I was out of range, he couldn’t hit me. If I’d tried to block a technique, it would have hurt, and I didn’t want to go through the pain. On the other hand, I thought, if my opponent attacked and missed because he couldn’t get close enough, he’d become frustrated and lose his cool. That was my favorite thing about evasion and why my rule of thumb was simply to get out of the way. Bill Wallace Evasion doesn’t mean just turning and running. You also can move your head out of the way and shift your body using what boxers call “bobbing and weaving.” You should strive to stay light on your feet and move when you sense he’s about to strike. Don’t wait to counter him or to make up your mind while he’s throwing his technique. Try to stay a step ahead so you aren’t stuck in defensive mode. Blocking and then countering takes too much time. If you think it’s better to intercept a technique, listen up: When I competed, my opponents almost never managed to intercept my shots. When a guy is quick, there’s no way you can intercept his attack. You’ll have enough trouble just getting out of the way.


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Against a combination, evasion still works. If you avoid the first shot, the next three or four techniques in your opponent’s combo will miss you because now you’re somewhere else. When your adversary attacks and misses, three things happen. First, he’s disturbed by your absence, so he prepares to speed up his next attack. Second, he wastes a lot of energy swinging at nothing. Third and most crucial, he leaves himself wide open because he doesn’t have a chance to pull his hand or foot back. In essence, he’s handing you an opening. To develop the maneuverability and speed needed to fight evasively, try to be mobile and bounce on your toes. Jumping rope and shadowboxing are good training tools. When you’re shadowboxing, it’s easy to stay on your toes because nobody’s trying to hit you. Once you get used to the movements, have your partner throw techniques while you evade without countering. Then put on headgear and challenge your partner to spar while you focus on evading when you can, covering up when you have to and attacking when you see an opening. This is an essential form of training because if you never get hit, you’ll have no idea what you’re evading. Evasion isn’t a panacea. For example, it doesn’t work well if you’re slow and unable to back up quickly. And if you retreat so your opponent can’t reach you, you won’t be able to reach him with your counterattack. Eventually, someone you’re matched against will corner you, and it’ll be necessary for you to block an attack. When I’m in such a predicament, I don’t protect myself against the technique; I protect an area on my body. If I think my opponent is going for my face, which most people try to do, I protect that area. If I think he’s going for my stomach or ribs, I keep my elbows in. My philosophy is, don’t focus on the opponent's technique because it can change at any time.

Taekwondo: Advanced Sparring Techniques — this course from TKD gold-medalist Herb Perez is available on DVD or as a video download.

When you absolutely have to block, the easiest way is to keep your arms and elbows in close. Your hands should be up to protect the sides of your face. It’s better to take punches and kicks on your arms, elbows and shoulders than in the ribs, stomach or face. You don’t need to toughen up your limbs too much; you just need to be able to absorb the blows. If you’re backing up while your opponent is punching and kicking, his shots won’t hit hard anyway. As you experiment to determine the defensive posture that works best for you, remember that everybody is unique. Every fighter puts his hands in a slightly different place. Personally, I’ve always fought with my hands lower than most people — with my right at chest level and my left down by my side. There, they can protect my chest, ribs, side and stomach. There’s only one open body part — my head — and I can get it out of the way pretty quickly. (Photos by Rick Hustead) Bill Wallace is a former kickboxing champion and Black Belt Hall of Fame member who now teaches seminars around the world.
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Do you want to maximize your self defense skills? Learn the game of combat chess and most importantly the queen of all moves.

Allow me to intercept those who would object to the title of this article. I'm not claiming that there's a secret move, shortcut or hack that will give you the edge in any fight. Even if there was an ultimate weapon or strategy, you likely would avoid it because you
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Looking to buy some weights to gain some strength?

Looking at Dumbbell, Kettlebells or Weighted bar? How about an all in one that won't just save you some good amount of money but also space? Look no further, we bring you the GRIPBELL!

Let's face it, when we do want to work on some strength building, we don't want to go around shopping for 20 different weight equipment things. That would just not want us to even do any sort of strength training. But what if we only needed a few, a few that can do the things we want without having 20 things lay around? That's where the GRIPBELL comes in. Let me clarify with you first, these are not some heavy duty, muscle exploding weights, they are for building the level of strength we as martial artists want without going crazy and insane in bulk sizing!

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Many different types of "blocks" are taught in most martial arts school. We are taught high blocks, low blocks, middle blocks, knife hand blocks, etc. Some schools will also teach how to use the legs to block an attack, as well.

The purpose of this writing is to possibly open some minds to the possibilities of going outside the box and considering alternatives to the basics.

Blocking is taught as a way of protecting oneself from harm. Truly, we don't "block" anything, as a non-martial artist would think of it. What we call "blocking" is more of a redirection of an opponent's attack, or even a counterstrike against the opponent's attacking limb.

To block something would mean to put something, like your arm, leg or other body part directly in front of the attack. That would certainly hurt and possibly cause some damage. The goal should be to move the attack out of the way in order to prevent injury and provide a way to fight back. For example, many schools teach blocks as a limb moving toward the strike such as a circular high block.

The movement required for a block might have other uses, if you keep an open mind. The blocking techniques can also be used as attack techniques. For example, your "low block" may be used as a striking technique against the outer thigh of the attacker. Your high block might be used as a strike to the jaw. The set up for a block can be used as a deflection, as well as the actual block.

Doing a block or a series of blocks will most likely not end an attack. A block needs to be followed by a counterattack. While the block is usually taught as a separate technique in order to learn it correctly, it should also be used in combination with a counter.

The more you know, the more you realize how much you don't know. Intensive books can and have be written about basic techniques. With this writing, I am hoping to create interest in exploring the additional possibilities for what we have been taught and what we teach others.

About Grand Master Stevens

GM Stevens has been training in taekwondo for 47 years under the tutelage of the late legendary Grand Master Richard Chun. He holds an 8th degree black belt and is certified in the USA and in Korea. Grand Master Stevens is a member of the Board of Directors of the prestigious Richard Chun TaeKwonDo World Headquarters organization. He has been very active in his community and has been a volunteer with the Glen Rock Volunteer Ambulance Corps for over 11 years. He is a certified member of C.E.R.T. (Community Emergency Response Team).

Gary Stevens Taekwondo is located at 175 Rock Road in Glen Rock, New Jersey.

For more information: call (201) 670-7263, email: StevensTKD@aol.com or go to www.StevensTaeKwonDo.com

Having partners at or above your skill level is important for improving in your martial arts training. At some point, however, you will probably find yourself with a shortage of skilled partners, especially if you are an instructor.

This can happen for any number of reasons: students can move away, change their work schedules, start a family, etc., and just like that, you find that you're the highest-ranked student, or sole instructor, in your gym or dojo. This doesn't have to be a bad thing. In fact, if you take advantage of it, even working exclusively with lower-ranking classmates or students can improve your skills.

I used to host a twice-a-week training session at my dojo where I invited mostly black belts from other schools (as well as a few of my advanced students) to come and run drills. It was a blast. These were tough two- to three-hour sessions where I got to work with fighters of all different sizes, speeds, and technique preferences. My sparring improved dramatically over the next few months, and I don't think I've ever been in better shape. But unfortunately, it doesn't always work out that way. And as the old saying goes, "You gotta work with what ya got." So, make it hard on yourself.

I like to set handicaps when fighting my students. Specifically, I focus on forcing myself to work on improving my weak areas. Is you right leg weaker than the left? Then only kick with the right leg when sparring your students. Not much of an inside fighter? Don't kick at all. Training with partners of lesser skill not only helps you improve your weak points but gives them an opportunity to improve as well by working on strategy. It's also great for building their confidence. It can also be a low-cost opportunity to test new techniques and combinations, which benefits you as well.

In grappling, just like sparring, there is little benefit to wrapping lower ranking classmates into pretzels over and over, for them or you. Instead, let your partner put you in a bad situation. Let them get the mount; help them sink in that choke or armbar. If you start standing, such as in judo, allow your partner to get the superior grip before attempting a throw. This way you will get comfortable working out of a weaker position and your less-experienced partner can perfect their technique (and get experience using multiple techniques, if you get out of their first one).

You might think that giving advantages like these to students who may be far beneath your skill level is much of a challenge. Trust me, you'll reconsider that sentiment when you wind up sparring a 6'5" novice with zero control over his strength after deciding to only use your weak leg, or have a 250-pound green belt lying across your diaphragm trying to get an armlock after you let them get the pin. Remember, this is exactly what you signed up for: a challenge.

If you find yourself at the top of the heap without partners who are sufficiently challenging, there is no need to despair. Use it as a low-stress opportunity to improve your weaknesses and develop avenues to help your less experienced classmates and students to grow. You may even be surprised. One day they might present more of a challenge than you ever imagined!
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