Surviving The Toe-To-Toe in a Fight

One of the most important skills to learn is to know how to fight out of the pocket. This applies in my opinion not only to sparring (where you train to get it right), but equally when we talk about self preservation.

When you fighting from a distance, you can use that distance to control the pace of the fight. When you are in the clinch, you can use controls to slow down the fight. But in the pocket, is where non of these are possible. The pocket is where all striking guns fire and the pace is furious. Its that moment of standing toe-to-toe and duke’ing it out. During that moment of mano-a-mano, one momentary lapse in focus, or drop of the hand could spell disaster. Knockouts often happen out of the pocket, either in the pocket itself, or when you find yourself pulling out of it. In the end, staying in the pocket, going toe-to-toe with someone takes real guts.

 

So how do you develop the skills to be able to fight out of the pocket?

This is how we approach it in Crazy Monkey Defense: If you don’t have trust in your defense, and the ability to use that defense to ride the storm, staying in the pocket is just not going to happen. Developing a strong CM2 hand defense, something we developed to both cross the chasm from the outside to the midline where the pocket happens is important. But its not enough!

Your defense needs to adapt to the barrage of punches you will have to ride. This is where Force Field Rotations come in. I developed this style of defense specifically for riding the storm inside the pocket.

Thirdly while being in the pocket is dangerous, it’s not as dangerous as how you pull out of it or press forward if the opponent decides to disengage from the pocket itself. I can’t tell you how many times I have seen people in sparring get their bells rung not in the pocket, but rather when they are either pulling themselves out of it, or trying to chase someone who has. What invariably happens is they break structure, leave their necks elongated, and expose their jawline. This is why we teach Structural Integrity of the fighting platform. Your hunchback stance needs to remain as such, with all hatches closed especially when you move away from an aggressive opponent or if you decide to give chase.

How you train for this is important too. Going hard doing this at first doesn’t teach you how to get good at it, what it will more than likely make you do is freak out. You want to intentionally practice staying in the pocket with light continuous punches. Knowing that at this pace you cant get seriously hurt, allows you to be creative and find the best way for your body to deal with that kind of fight. You also want to ensure that you play the pocket out of the whole game. You need to find the best way to go from the outside to getting into the pocket, or what to do when someone enters purposively on you to fight from the pocket. And finally, how you react when you either pull out of the pocket, or someone else does and you move after them.

At each stage of these strategies, you want to ensure that your structure remains one of first and foremost safety. One of the worst things you can do in the pocket is get hung up on your Ego, and then fight out of frustration or trying to show the other person you have what it takes. Sometimes, the best strategy is to know how to absorb someones blows, let them burn themselves out, and then fight back and end it.

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