Saturday, July 23, 2011

Self-Defense: Extended Guard vs. Close Guard

I've been giving some more thought to The concept of where to hold a guard position in various stages of an impending fight;
Some arts have a fixed stance that is always used, be it long or short range. Traditional arts use an extended guard, modern fighting styles such as Boxing or MMA tend to use a close guard exclusively.
Here for example is a traditional Chinese Xingyi San-ti stance:

Partly because I am spending a lot of time on Xingyi forms right now, this is my preferred stance when I need to be alert to a confrontation. It has that "Back-off!" gesture and feels good at sensing an approaching threat. The lead hand is held high, the back hand is close to the core ready for protecting against kicks.
But let's face it, a good boxer can hook around the guard in close quarters and in that case we need to close our guard.
I feel that there are varying degrees of pulling the guard in as the situation changes. Here's Loren Christensen in a modified extended guard, pulling back slightly from the traditional stance and perhaps ready to rip, claw and strike.

But if someone is closing very fast, it seems logical to pull back and protect your centerline and head from heavy punches. Here's Ali in a typical boxing posture:

As Tim Cartmell instructed us at a MMA seminar, the modern method is to cover closely and shuck off the strikes with forearms, protecting centerline, head and ribs. Defense from kicks is either jamming them or stepping out of range. As Tim described, the worst thing you can do is reach out away from your centerline and core area, creating an opening for your opponent to punch through.
In summary, I think that the guard can be adjusted according to range and how much time you have as an attack closes in. By the same token, I would not unnecessarily extend a guard unless I intended to use it. No reason to signal or posture, but it is natural to raise your guard if threatened.

Now, here is my ideal of a nice training scenario:


Anonymous said...

I'm guessing that reliance on extended guard in traditional martial arts stems from being designed to deal with situations where your assailant is armed with a weapon. You've got more time to redirect a strike, and it takes less effort to redirect it from it's source than from it's target.

B said...

"Defense from kicks is either jamming them or stepping out of range."

That's something last Teacher harped on. He pointed out that the traditional karate or TKD down block was mostly a waste of time. Striking a bone that's thicker than your arm is dumb. Better to turn the strike into a grab and off-balance the attacker.

j said...

Tim and his teacher Luo De Xiu and everyone from Hong Yi Xiang's school all fight from a guard. No one who has actual fight experience uses San Ti as their fighting position.
It's not a matter of modern or traditional, it's a matter of people who have used it for ring fighting or not. Hong's students were deep into sport fighting and it shows. Those that use San Ti as a fighting guard are guessing, it's not what HsingI fighters do.
-Jess O

AF1 said...

The old bareknuckle boxers used an extended guard and they had a lot of actual fight experience.

The close guard seems to have risen to prominence once gloved boxing began to replace bare fist fighting.

Dojo Rat said...

Thanks Jess, I'd like to hear more of what you have to say about this