Martial artists of various styles know the importance of understanding ranges of combat. It is covered rather extensively in Bruce Lee’s art of Jeet Kune Do, an art that focuses on practicality and versatility. It is covered in many arts; Boxing, Jiu Jitsu, Kenpo, Eskrima to name a few. The practitioners of these arts understand the importance of distance and time, and controlling both.
So, one of the skills a martial artist learns involves the understanding and adjusting of distance. Watch any fighter, boxer, or Mixed Martial Artist and you will see him or her spending time adjusting, gauging, and controlling or losing control of distance. The understanding and use of distance and time are crucial and means the difference between success and failure in pulling off technique and winning the battle. To this end, a fighter must discern and use read time. Read time is simply the time it takes to read an attack. It stands to reason that the more distance between two fighters, the more time there is to read an attack and to do something about it; furthermore, the closer the threat, the less time there is to read it and respond to it, and the need for certain tactics to ensure your safety. Speed is also a factor and, simply, the first person to get to an advantageous position will be the victor. It would do us well, to examine here, the different ranges of combat.
A hand held weapon is an extension of your natural weapons, your hands and arms. Generally, what can be done with your hands and arms, can be done with a hand held weapon. Certain rules apply with bladed weapons, to keep from injuring yourself. Here, though, we are focusing on range. The hand held weapon gives you extended reach, more time and more advantage; in addition, the hand held weapon does more severe and quick damage. Such a weapon is useful for disarms and for doing destruction to hands and limbs, at the longest range, until close enough to reach more vital targets.
The longest range, essentially out of range, but the weapons might meet.
Within range to attack hand or arm for a disarm
Within striking range
Kicking Range or Long Range
Legs are your long range weapons and can be inserted into a technique to close the distance between you and your opponent or to keep him or her away.
Opponents are out of range
Glenn shuffles up to prepare to kick
Now within kicking range, he delivers the kick
As he lands, he’s in punching range or mid-range.
Punching Range or Mid-Range
Coming in a little closer, you reach punching range, or mid-range, which could very well follow a kick. There are many ways to get within punching range: Using kicks and various foot maneuvers to gain position. It is important to remember that once you are within range to hit your opponent, he or she too is in range to hit you. For this reason, it is wise to check your opponent at this range, either with strikes or by grabbing and controlling him.
Again, here Jamie and Glenn are out of range to attack.
Glenn does a cross-over foot maneuver, his rear leg crossing his front leg
As Glenn finishes the foot maneuver by stepping in with his right foot, he is in range to deliver a punch.
Here Glenn applies a wrist lock to check Jamie’s movement and strikes, which also works as a check.
Closer than punching range, within close contact with your opponent, is close-range combat. Here, it should be noted, there is very little read time and both fighters are within range to hit each other. For this reason, checking becomes crucial and must be used to keep from getting hit or grappled. Natural weapons used at this range are elbows, head butts and knees; for dirty fighting, there is biting and attacking the eyes.
Knees are effective close-range weapons
Thumbs into the eyes are an effective deterrent at close range.
Head butt is a very effective close range weapon
An elbow is an effective close range weapon, noticing Glenn keeps a check on Jamie’s right arm.
The closest range of combat is the grappling range, which involves throws, locks, and chokes. This range involves much more control and energy, in addition to requiring heightened sensitivity to read what your opponent is doing through hands-on feeling of movement. At this range, you are completely, physically in contact with each other and, through touch, can feel movement of the other.
Here Glenn applies a shoulder lock and throw.
Dan Inosanto, at Age 70+, and John Machado Working Some Grappling
It should be noted that weapons can be used at these various ranges of combat. The following shows how the stick is used at all ranges of combat.
Long range with the stick, able to reach hand with a strike.
Mid-range strike with the stick
Close range with the stick, striking with the butt end
Grappling with the stick, locking the head and pressuring the back of the neck.
Enter grappling range with the stick.
Grappling with the stick, administering a choke
Choke with the stick
Timing and position are crucial, in combat, in determining success or failure. Simply put, if you are not in position to do what you need to do and able to do it at the right time, then your technique will not occur. Conversely, with proper position and timing, you have optimum chances of pulling off technique.
In 1981, at the age of 11, I began training in Goju Ryu Karate at a local community center on the Central Coast of California. I trained there for about a year. In 1984, my family moved to Northern California, where I began training in Kenpo Karate under Professor Charles “Chuck” Epperson. I trained at Professor Epperson’s dojo for about a year. I left the dojo, but returned in 1994. I earned ranks up through second-degree black belt under Chuck Epperson. I tested for brown and black belts in front of Master Richard “Huk” Planas, first-generation Ed Parker Kenpo black belt. I taught classes at Professor Epperson’s dojo from 1998 to 2002. I have also taught private lessons for friends and family. I have training in Doce Pares Eskrima under Charles Epperson and have attended seminars by Master Anthony Kleeman and Grandmaster Cacoy Canete. I have also trained in DeCuerdas Eskrima under Professor James Muro. In addition to my martial arts training, I have a Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science, have worked in the Human Services field since 1996, and currently spend most of my time writing web articles.