Sparring and range control

Mind the gap

Fighting range

Judging range is one of the most important factors in any fight. Distance to your opponent determines the options you have for attack and defence. Anticipation, timing and attacking combinations all play their part in getting close enough to an opponent to land decisive strikes.

Sparring and range control

Comfort zones

When an encounter turns violent, your awareness of reach and distance needs to be automatic. In this clip, sensei Lynton is more effective when attacking from just outside sensei Darren's range. That's Lynton's comfort zone.

Any closer, puts Lynton in sensei Darren's comfort zone. The difference in reach, range and physical size means they attack each other in very different ways. Creating distance and closing the gap, to attack in ways that suit them.

Comfort zones


Aware of how dangerous Darren is when up close, sensei Lynton creates a comfortable position outside sensei Darren's range. Paving the way for the coup de gras, Lynton combines multiple strikes aimed at opposing targets.

An opening sweep followed by striking jodan, or haito-uchi followed by gyaku-zuki. You can see how this tactic works, so long as the attacker anticipates their opponent's reaction to the opener and anticipates their opponent's counter-attack.

Other times, sensei Darren rides the attack, anticipating opportunities to counter-attack from up close. He employs the same strategy with attack combinations and timing that makes defence near impossible.



This clip also demonstrates how the Shotokan style of sparring emphasises control, yet allows brutal attacks to be practiced safely. Exercising this level of restraint is down to exceptional control and respect for the dojo and each other.

A common misconception of (untrained) observers is "this wouldn't work in the street". The misunderstanding comes from assuming karateka would be restrained outside the dojo.

Control for maximum restraint when training, can be turned into control for maximum damage when faced with real physical threats.

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