Taekwondo sparring is a game often decided by inches. When you reach the highest levels of the sport, any momentary lapse in attention can mean the different between dodging a kick or fighting an uphill battle against an opponent who's up on points. Advanced sparring techniques include offensive and defensive striking attacks, but you can also use subtle feints to gain a mental advantage over your adversary.
Pump Side Kick
The side kick is a staple among taekwondo fighters, but you can make this straight-line technique difficult to avoid by modifying it into a pump side kick. Instead of extending your leg into a kick when your opponent is in range, the pump side kick requires you to balance on your rear foot as you lift your front leg into a chamber. You then hop toward your opponent, pumping out side kick after side kick. Your opponent will find it difficult to attack you with a straight-line attack coming at him and it will put him on the defensive, while you can close and finish either with your side kick or a backfist.
Fakes and feints are effective tools to employ against an overeager or overaggressive opponent in the ring. To fake effectively, you should start the match by throwing out a few punches and kicks for real, trying to hit your opponent. After you strike at him, you tense quickly and simulate the beginning of a punch or kick to get a physical reaction out of him. He may flinch, move away from you or attack, but any way it goes, you're in control.
Blitzes combine speed and timing for a devastating effect; using blitzes efficiently can give you a fast lead on the scoreboard. A blitz starts from a normal fighting position, but instead of telegraphing a technique from distance, the key is to push off the mats as hard and fast as you can, closing the distance between you and your opponent to finish with a punch. One of the best ways to catch an opponent off guard with a blitz is to charge after a series of fakes and feints.
Contrary to what you might see in the movies, spinning kicks are sometimes more effective as counter strikes than as offensive attacks. When an opponent employs a ranged attack, such as a pump side kick, an effective and advanced counter is to spin on the ball of your front foot, whip your head around to see your target clearly and bring your rear foot around for a side kick to the body or a hook kick to the head. The spin will hide your stomach and chest from your opponent's kick, exposing only a portion of your back, which is an illegal target zone.
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