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Thoughts and ideas related to training in
Our style of martial arts has a really unusual punch that in English is called “lunge punching”. It gets a fair amount of criticism from other martial arts styles primarily for being too slow and starting from so far away. I actually think these are it’s greatest strengths so I thought I’d write a little on it from my perspective.
Here’s a clip from the Hon Tai Yoshin Ryu School of Martial Arts, a cousin school of the Takagi Yoshin Ryu School of martial arts that’s found in our training. At point 15 to 17 there’s a reasonable example of what could be considered a lunge punch just in case you’re unsure as to what I’m talking about. Hey, we’re not the only ones that do it …….
In my mind here are the reasons for practicing a lunge punch as the attack (note… as the attack) which is what we do in training, quite rarely in defences do we lunge punch at all. So here it is ….
It is the maximum distance that a person can reach while still keeping one foot on the starting point.
So it teaches maximum distance/range without moving from the starting spot with both feet.
Meaning that if someone wants to hit/cut me I need to be at least the length of the other persons body away in order to force them into taking an initial step forward towards me. i.e. if they’re 180 cm tall i need to be about 190cm away to be just past the maximum range of their reach. This distance allows me some safety; it gives me a little time to see it coming. Obviously you can’t measure it out with a tape measure, you just have to pratice and after time develop a feeling for the right distance.
Now think about a classic untrained fighters haymaker strike, something you see in real life not so much in a dojo. It usually starts from the behind the hip/waist area, travels around using the shoulder as a pivot point in a semi circle while stepping forward with the same side leg, to swing to the maximum reach that the person has available and then continues on past that point in an arc for about 80 cm back near the persons own body somewhere in front of their other shoulder.
Heres the thing, they have a different trajectory but the same distance, the same maximum reach!
Don’t believe me, stand your height from a wall and do a haymaker and then do a lunge punch.
Try it now, I’ll wait while you give it a go……
I’m 180 cm tall roughly, if I stand that distance from a wall and step forward to touch it the only way I can do so is if I turn my body sideways and lean forward with my knee until the knee cap is directly above the toes. It gives me a striking distance of about 180 cm or another way of saying it is that my height is also my reach.
That’s a huge distance to travel and it takes me about .7 of a second to cover that range from a natural standing position. From Ichimonji and having to step thru in takes about 1.2 seconds.
Quite some time in a fight I know, stick with me , it’s going somewhere I promise…
An average non professional boxers strike from a normal punching range of about 110 cm probably takes about .2 seconds or something like that, I’m just guessing so let’s just say it’s really fast. You’re thinking to yourself I know which punch I want to hit with, right……. the boxer, they can do 6 punches in the time it takes you to do one.
Fair enough, let’s look at it this way
Given that self defence is about keeping you alive and that knifes are a somewhat normal part of Melbourne’s night life, and the mostly dangerous thing you’re ever likely to come accross while out and about, can I ask how close or far away you would like to be if you had the choice of anywhere from say 50 cm to 190 cm and you knew that your attacker had a knife ?
I’m going to guess the VAST MAJORITY would say 190 cm or the distance that can allow you at least a little time to see it coming ….. so you’re 1.2 seconds away from being stabbed to be precise…. which seems a whole lot faster now!
And that’s the problem, how do you know if someone has a knife, well you can’t, it can appear at anytime in a fight. They may have it hidden or a friend might give it to them or it might be just there on a table waiting to be picked up. It happened to me so why wouldn’t it happen to you.
Of course if you’re a boxer standing 110cm away then you only have .2 seconds to defend yourself from a suprise knife attack, and that’s my point , you’re standing too close to protect yourself from a real attack not just a punch , who cares about a punch. I don’t, not when compared to a knife attack.
I’d rather be punched my Mike Tyson than stabbed by a 13 year old girl.
Here’s the problem too many people think about hitting instead of not being hit, of hurting instead of how to be safe. Martial Artists are the worst for it, some can’t wait to use their martial arts on someone. They’re the most likey to get stabbed because that thinking actually draws them into more confrontations. So just by thinking that way your more likey to get hurt.
Watch as they change their minds when a knife suddenly appears but then it’s too late; you’re already to close, up in the other person’s face being all aggressive and carrying on.
3 good stabs in 1.2 seconds or one long exaggerated slash in 1.2 seconds, this is what you give away by standing at the wrong distance. It’s a life changing/ending decision.
Which brings me back to my main point about lunge punching…….. It is the maximum distance that a person/attacker can reach while still keeping one foot on the starting point.
Sensei calls it ” Martial Arts of Distance ” in all his old dvds/videos for a reason.
Over the last 10 years I have taken more than 800 adults thru my initial lesson where we talk about distance among other things and many of them have trained in other martial arts and virtually every one of them when asked to stand at maximum distance for “fighting” stand just outside kicking range because that’s what they have been taught in sparring. That kicking/legs is/are the longest weapons, so that’s the distance you spar at, just outside that range.
Trouble is that it’s about 40cm in my basic punching range and about 60 cm inside an untrained knife attackers range. I show them this, most get it, some don’t.
Knowing this larger, what i’ll call “true” distance, keeps you safer. Maybe the next time an instructor askes you to stand 130 away from an opponent, this article might come to mind.
So back to the original post ……Why do we lunge punch?
Well we don’t very often………. the opponent in our training lunge punches because we stand at a distance that means it’s the only way that they can reach us in one movement. Is it perfect , not really, is it real life, sometimes people stand there and then attack unexpectedly but not always.
I’ll write more about this another time if people comment and ask questions because there’s a few interesting points i’ve left out such as this is a static drill with training partners moving from fixed points as opposed to the more dynamic distancing of freely moving training partners. But then you have to start somewhere and this post is way too long already….
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