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Sparring>Techniques>Open or closed position

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Open or closed position

Intro

All stances may be oriented in either a closed position (both opponents have their same foot forward) or an open (opponents have their opposite foot forward) position. This is an important concept as it pertains to how a stance is used while sparring.

Basic fighting stance

Competitors use a variety of stances to use while sparring, but the most common stance used is the basic fighting stance. Of the basic taekwondo stances, the back stance offers the best fighting position, but it is forced stance, meaning that you must consciously force your body to stay in the back stance position. To change the back stance into a more effective fighting stance, first, start in a classic back stance and then relax and stop forcing the stance and let the body shift into a natural, more relaxed version of the back stance.

To accomplish this, you should
  • Let the front foot naturally angle inward (about 45 degrees) to help protect the groin.
  • Let the back foot naturally angle inward (about 45 degrees).
  • Let the upper body naturally angle inward to protect the centerline.
  • Slightly bend both knees and keep them bent. If you straighten the knees, you lose mobility and power.
  • Keep the arms up in your favorite guard position, keeping the elbows inward to protect the midsection.
  • Let the shoulders relax and drop
  • Lower and tuck the chin to protect it.
Try to relax the entire body. Instead of holding the body upright by tension, pretend you are a marionette being held up by strings; without the strings, you would collapse. A relaxed body can move and react instantly, When the body is under tension, to move, it must relax the tension, complete the movement, and then apply the tension again. This tension-relax-tension cycle uses a lot of energy.

Once in the fighting stance, then you have to decide as to whether to set up the stance in a closed or open position.

Closed position

This most common position of a stance. In a closed position, both opponents have their same foot forward. This means the front of one opponent’s body will be facing toward the left while the other opponent’s body will be facing toward the right, so both opponents will be facing inward. The closed position is common when both opponents are either right-handed or left-handed.

Some characteristics of a closed position:
  • The leading leg is pretty much limited to kicks to the front or side of the opponent; otherwise, the closed stance is quick and versatile.
  • The trailing leg has a long distance to move so it is should only be used in combinations, not as an initial attack.
  • A trailing leg round kick must usually be to the head since the back of the opponent is not usually a valid target area.
  • The leading hand is quick, versatile, and is useful in setting up combinations using trailing hand and leg power attacks.

Open position

In an open position, each opponent has the opposite foot forward. This means the front of both opponents’ bodies will be facing in the same direction, so both opponents will be facing outward toward the same side. The open position is common when one opponent is right-handed and the other is left-handed.

Some characteristics of an open position:
  • •The leading leg is somewhat limited in its attack options.
  • The trailing leg still has a lot of distance to cover but it has more targets available.
  • The leading hand is still versatile but has limited attacks available.
  • The trailing hand has more targets available.

Using closed and open positions

No matter which stance is used while sparring, whether it is used in an open or a closed position plays an important part in a fighter’s sparring strategy. The following strategies assume that the sparring rules:
  • Permit attracts to the head.
  • Do not permit attacks below the belt.
  • Do not permit attacks to the back
The closed position is the most commonly used. If you change it to an open position, most opponents will immediately shift their stance to change it back to a closed position. Therefore, the open position usually exists for only a few seconds at most.

If in a closed position and your trailing leg is your higher kicking leg, a quick change into an open position will put that leg in the lead and give you a few seconds to fire it to the back of the opponent’s head. If an opponent has a favorite kicking leg, opening or closing a stance will hinder the opponent’s use of that leg, at least for a few seconds. Since you know this, if you open a stance, the opponent will probably close it; you can prepare for the opponent’s stance shift and attack the opponent in mid-shift.

From the more commonly used closed position, the available attacks include:

Using leading side (side closest to the opponent)
  • Linear attacks to leading side of the opponent’s body and to head using:
  • Kicks, such as a front kick, side kick, or back kick.
  • Punches, such as jab, overhand, or uppercut. 
  • Angular attacks to the front of the opponent’s body and to the head using:
  • Kicks, such as the twist kick or inside snap-crescent kick.
  • Punches, such as an inverted back fist.
  • Angular attacks to back of opponent’s head using:
  • Kicks, such as the twist kick or snap outside crescent kick.
  • Punches, such as a back fist or hammer fist
  • Circular attacks to the front side of the opponent’s body and to the head using:
  • Kicks, such as the round kick or straight leg inside crescent kick.
  • Punches, such as a hook.
  • Circular attacks to back of opponent’s head using:
  • Kicks, such as hook kick or straight leg inside crescent kick.
Using trailing side (side furthest from the opponent)
  • Linear attacks to leading side of the opponent’s body and to head using:
  • Kicks, such as front kick, side kick, back kick, spin side kick, or jump spin side kick.
  • Punches, such as a reverse punch or upset punch.
  • Angular attacks to the front of the opponent’s body and to the head using:
  • Kicks, as the twist kick and the inside snap crescent kick.
  • Punches, such as an overhand punch.
  • Angular attacks to back of the opponent’s head using:
  • Kicks, such as a snap inside crescent kick.
  • Punches, such as an inverted back fist or a hammer fist.
  • Circular attacks to the front side of the opponent’s body and to the head using:
  • Kicks, such as the hook kick, straight leg outside crescent kick, spin hook, or jump spin hook.
  • Punches, such as a spin back fist or spin hammer fist.
  • Circular attacks to back of opponent’s head using:
  • Kicks, such as a round kick or a straight leg inside crescent kick.
  • Punches, such as a hook.
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