What kind of fighter are you? When you spar, do you like to dictate the pace of the fight? Do you like to be the first one to throw a punch or a kick? Do you worry more about how many times you will score more than how many punches or kicks you will get hit with? If so, you would be classified as an offensive minded fighter. Or, are you the kind of fighter who likes to sit back and wait; see what your opponent likes to do and counter. Do you intentionally hold back and not throw the first technique and wait to let your opponent tire themselves out? Are you more concerned with how many punches and kicks land against you, than how many times you score in the fight? If so, you are more of a defensive minded fighter.
Most students gravitate to being one type of fighter or the other. As you participate in class, you can usually see what type of fighter each student is and how they go about implementing their strategy.
Students often ask which strategy is best. To me the answer is easy. It’s both! What does that mean? It simply means that you need to be able to adjust your fight to whomever you are paired with. Sometimes you want to be offensive and sometimes you want to be defensive. The mark of a good fighter is the ability to be versatile and adapt mid-fight to whatever the opponent does. So, if you find yourself pitted against someone who is gung-ho offensive, going in guns-a-blazing will just mean lots of clashes. In this case, a better way might be to counter fight. Keep them away and frustrate them, and then take advantage when you do let them in. If, on the other hand, you are fighting someone who is just sitting back and not doing anything, you might wish to take a more aggressive approach and see how they respond. They could be a very skilled fighter, in which case you will have to pick your opportunities carefully. But, perhaps they are a weak fighter and are just timid, and you can take advantage of this by pressing the action and forcing them to defend against your onslaught.
One final thought: a lot can depend on whether you are sparring in class, in a tournament, or you find yourself fighting for your life on the street. Personally, I would much rather score less frequently and never get hit, than score a lot but take a lot of punishment in return. Your body is extremely valuable, and you will be well served with the mindset that it is not ok to get hit.
-Coach David Matusow-