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When to fire


When sparring, you don’t just fire techniques at your opponents at random times; you pick the most opportune times to fire. Firing attacks just to fire them wastes energy and leaves you open for counterattacks.

There are two times when you fire a technique at an opponent:
  • When the technique is an attack initiated by you.
  • When the technique is a counterattack in response to an attack initiated by the opponent.


When you are attacking, you are firing at will; you are acting, not reacting. You are the attacker, you are making the first strike. You wait for either an opening to occur that allows you to fire at a target, or you create an opening that allows you to fire at a target.

Waiting for an opening

If you wait for a perfect opportunity to fire, chances are it may not come. You should constantly try to control the fight by controlling distance, tempo, direction, speed, etc. to create opportunities to attack. Don’t be afraid to fire and not receive a score, because, if you don’t fire, you certainly will not receive a score.

Most people tend to lead with their upper body on a directional change instead of leading with their feet. They turn their shoulder, and, for a split second, they give you an unusually large target in the mid-section because their hips are still facing toward the blindside.

Creating an opening

Control the fight so your opponent is following you. Then guide the opponent into position for your attack.

For example, get your opponent to follow you in a circular motion by moving toward their blindside. Most defensive fighters will try to follow you. Then take them around to the blind side 90-degrees or better and switch back to the open side while you switch your feet to change the lead. Without warning or even dropping your eyes, fire your lead foot into the mid-section. If you switched quickly enough and fired your kick without hesitation, you should catch the opponent trying to catch up to your change in direction.


A 2010 study showed that reacting to an action produced 10 percent quicker reaction times than the times produced by the subject that initiated the action. In other words, a fighter may counterattack an attack by an opponent quicker than the opponent may complete the initial attack.

However, the reaction may result in greater error than the initial action. In other words, the counterattack may miss its intended target. This is not to say that the counterattack will miss the opponent entirely; it may miss the intended target but still hit another area that will score or do damage.

Always fire when being fired upon

  • If you block, your counterattack must be immediate. If you hesitate for even a fraction of a second, it will probably fail. Try not to think about the block itself; instead, think about the opening that it will create.
  • Create an opening by firing at multiple targets (high, middle, and low), and increasing the power to the target/s) that that is/are most exposed. Usually, you will catch your opponent trying to block, thus creating an opening.

Watch the eyes

When an opponent is ready to attack, the eyes will open wider and the pupils will dilate. This is illustrated in the movie Tombstone. In the final showdown between Johnny Ringo and Doc Holiday, the camera closes in for close-ups of the gunfighter's faces. Just as Ringo decides to draw, his eyes open wide, which Holiday sees and it allows him to draw a split second faster than Ringo, thus he was able to kill Ringo.


In a counterattack, there are three times available for you to fire a technique. You may fire: before, during, or after your opponent fires.
  • Before. As you notice your opponent mentally and physically preparing to attack, you preemptively fire your technique
  • During. As your opponent fires at you, you simultaneously fire at the opponent. This may be an aicuhi (mutual slaying) situation; a situation in which you both score. In this case, you try to use your body position to minimize the effectiveness of the opponent’s strike while maximizing the effectiveness of your strike. You may be able to maneuver so that the opponent’s strike misses you completely.
  • After. As your opponent fires at you, you evade, deflect, or intercept the technique, and then fire a counterattack.
  • Evade. As the attack comes in, you move to avoid the attack while staying in range for a counterattack.
  • Deflect. As the attack comes in, you parry or deflect it away from you and counterattack.
  • Intercept. As the attack comes in, you block or jam it and counterattack.
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