Letters: Side stance and groin kicks

30 April 2006

I, as you, have been miseducated with Kyokushinkai. One of the consequences is that my fighting stance is now essentially with my side to the opponent, at 180° to him if he were standing square. The explanation I got was that this provided for protection of the groin area. Now that I am relearning and that stance is going to be my former stance – may I ask how you actually do provide groin coverage in the Morris stance, which is rather more square to the opponent by comparison, and so seemingly more open?

My side kick has been a very valuable weapon to me over the years, and I would be sorry to lose it. Moving around and testing the Morris stance, the only offensive drawback I could discover was that it was difficult to maneuver into position for the side kick (you notice that this question and the question above are affine, having to do with the same problems of stance and movement). Am I eventually going to have to leave my side kick behind, or do you have a suggestion? (I know you usually do).

— Martin Andersson, Sweden

Groin kicks are dangerous; I know that because of the number of people I’ve kicked in the groin.  But don’t get paranoid about it.  Some people stand there with their fucking knees together like demented ducks; what the fuck’s that all about?  I’ve been kicked in the groin many times (once by a rank stallion) and didn’t pass out or make a fuss about it (unlike the guy in Holland I kicked who ended up going into shock).  Sure, you need to be aware of it, and it’s not something you want to give him on a plate.  But it’s not the only target you have to defend, or line up to attack. 

The shoulder to knee alignment that I show you puts the hips slightly back, and therefore takes the groin back. If you don’t want your hips to be controlled in a takedown, or your groin to be kicked, then you have to align and distance yourself in such a way that he has to make an adjustment to get to them.  That adjustment is your cue to act. Because you’re slightly tilted forward, your hands are effectively closer to him, to strike, to clinch, to tie up, to hand fight, etc.  And because you are slightly square, you’ve always got two hands ‘on the steering wheel’ controlling his power lines, rather than if you were in a side stance, where you only have one hand on the wheel.  You always want to have the opportunity to hit him and keep hitting him, whether he’s standing or on the ground.  That means you need to be a two-fisted fighter at all times. 

About the side kick: you can do anything in a fight, basically, as long as you’ve got great timing, reflexes, reaction time, speed, agility, and solid defence.  Sakaraba uses back kicks effectively, but he’s a tremendous all-round fighter, and he can work in the position he might end up in if his back kick fails.  He can still do his work in the worst possible case scenario.  Most people don’t train for that worst-case scenario.  They assume, for example, that the side or back kick is going to work, and then haven’t a clue how to get out of where they might end up as a consequence of its failure.   

You could do a really dumb-ass technique and get away with it, but the thing is, do you want to?  Even a clown working a high wire still stays on the wire.  Some techniques, sometimes, are rather like that last second in a basketball game, and you throw the ball from your end of the court in the hope that it’s going to get in the net.  Chances are, it ain’t.  It’s a one-off.    

It’s staying aligned to your opponent that’s the key, and not letting him in.  A good fighter won’t let you get away with a side stance/side kick/backfist approach.  You’ve only got essentially one attack and one counter.  He’s going to have you, most likely before you even unload it, and certainly after you’ve unloaded your attack, he’ll be all over you.  I think the thing about it is, you have two arms, two legs, and a head.  Line them up so you can use them, offensively, defensively, and counteroffensively. 

With the staggered stance you’re seeing on the film, it’s not exactly square. There’s a twist in my upper torso, which loads up my left hand.  It’s a cross-guard, which is both defensive and offensive all in one.   Big guns are a thing of the past.  That’s from the early days of kickboxing, and they got their ass kicked by the Thais. 

You need to be Uzi mentality: rapid fire that can be repeated over and over again with very little time between the shots.  This is part of what I mean by an offensive defense.  He doesn’t have time to recover, regain balance, or counter.  You’re the fast revolving door; he can’t get in.  Even when you’re on the ground, you don’t play the submission game.  You just overwhelm him. You’ve got to be superbly anaerobically fit to do this.  Most people train in a non-chaotic environment.  They don’t train in a storm.  As the fighter, you’re the storm.  You’re the chaos factor, which most martial artists have removed from their training.    I recently saw a training film of Randy Couture doing a so-called anaerobic workout on a hanging and ground and pound bag.  It wasn’t an anaerobic workout.  Anaerobic is working without oxygen, at a rate that you’re not able to utilize oxygen.  You’re working your phosphocreatine and lactic acid systems.  It’s painful.  It takes mental toughness, focus, and a desire to push yourself into that zone and stay there until you’re fucked, and then do it again and again and again.  That’s what most people ain’t going to do.  And that’s why, if you do it, you win the fight.