This week, in the fighting session, I'm going to spar with the blue fighter in the linked video below:


  • Is very aggressive
  • Is heavier
  • Makes heavy use of Kihap i.e. shouting
  • He corners the opponent and won't give much opportunity to fight back
  • He doesn't let the opponent to hesitate

What would be a good strategy to spar with such fighter? I'm afraid I'm going to be embarrassed!


Now is one week later. I fought with the blue fighter. I mostly employed these strategies among @SteveWeigand suggestions:

  • Diagonal side-stepping into the opponent weak spot
  • Being active and moving, not being a locked target
  • Using combinations, like following spin kick with front, round and side kick
  • Decoy: faking my previous combinations and following up with something else
  • Shouting (Kihap), mostly just responsively

What I couldn't do:

  • Half-beat timing: the fight speed was so high for me that I was not able to think about half-beat timing. Actually, I don't know it. I need to learn.
  • Reading the opponent: I could guess how he's going to attack, but other than basic defense with hand, I wasn't skilled enough to know what else I can do.
  • Separating properly from the opponent when sticks himself to me
  • Managing the fight when I ran out of breath.

I feel pretty competitive and feel like a real contender =)

Now, I'm thinking about the next week fighting session and my to-learn priorities.

  • Why is this blurred?
    – RoundHouse
    Commented Jan 2, 2021 at 22:58
  • @RoundHouse I didn't get permission from people in the video!
    – Megidd
    Commented Jan 2, 2021 at 23:45

2 Answers 2


This is normal for Taekwondo. Aggression is far preferred to defense. You don't get points by waiting for them to come to you. And you don't get points for blocks. So TKD's main game is to always be on the attack. At least when continuous sparring, not when 3 point limit sparring.

I talked a little about this in some of my previous answers. First, in the following link I talk about the difference between "high percentage" and "low percentage" techniques:

What is the best point-scoring technique?

That answer talks about Taekwondo in particular and points to statistics about which techniques actually win points in TKD sparring. The primary take-away from it is this quote:

In general the highest percentage techniques and strategies are the ones that can be done safely, effectively, quickly, and in the most number of situations.

For Taekwondo that would be simple, linear, direct, quick techniques. That would be: the round kick, front kick, and side-kick.

Taekwondo's spinning kicks are an exception, which TKD people use quite a lot. They're done because of two reasons: 1) they effectively close distance, thereby setting up a combination which follows from it. And 2) if it goes badly and results in falling, the TKD player is simply asked to get back up. The rules in TKD make it so that spin-kicks are not as risky as they ought to be.

I talked about those statistics more in the following answer as well:

Study on Songahm TKD sparring matches - Wide count ranges?

And then there's my next answer to read:

How to defeat a much stronger and bigger opponent?

In that answer, the question was how to deal with bigger, stronger opponents in TKD. And my main take-away is:

So your main focus for preparing for this tournament should be on basic techniques - the ones you learned in white belt. That would be the basic jab punch, the reverse punch, the round kick, the front kick, and the side kick. Keep your kicks to the mid-section, rather than aiming high.

I talked briefly about half-beat timing in order to neutralize his leg reach advantage, if he's bigger than you. You would do well to add that to your own training. It will take you to the next level if you haven't already figured it out.

As for dealing with aggression, and someone who is always coming at you and pressing forward into you, you must not step backwards, because that makes it much easier for him to target you. You have to side-step. Step towards his weak side. For most people, that's their left side (your right side). I would also encourage you to step not just sideways but also diagonally either towards or away from your opponent. Diagonal stepping is harder for the eyes to track, and so it makes you less of a target.

Another piece of advice I'll give you is to always keep moving. Don't stand still. But move in unpredictable ways. Don't just keep circling around him counter-clockwise. Don't keep doing the same strikes and combinations.

Here's an answer I wrote describing why you want to always keep moving. I discuss tracking a target and how the human brain has to juggle variables and make guesses about where the target will be:

Defence in martial arts in general

In short, always keep moving. Don't make it easy for your opponent to track you.

And finally, learn to read and to decoy. You probably already are working on these skills. Reading your opponent will tell you what he's probably going to do next. If he has a habit of leading with a front leg front kick, for example, then that's excellent news for you. That means you can take advantage of that knowledge and prepare ahead of time for it. Step diagonally in towards him on his left side, and then throw a round kick or a front kick to his face or body. But you need to time this so that you begin right as he's starting his technique (for half-beat timing).

As for decoying, it works on the same principle as reading. You're going to let your opponent see you performing some combo technique over and over again. Do it 3 times at least while protecting yourself. Make sure he has it figured out and is able to block it or counter it. Then do it again, but this time change the combo mid-stream into something that hits him and gives you a point. He thinks you're doing X, but you're actually doing Y.

In summary:

  1. Stick with your basics, nothing fancy.
  2. Practice half-beat timing.
  3. Practice side-stepping, especially on diagonals.
  4. Always keep moving, in unpredictable ways.
  5. Learn to read and to decoy.

Hope that helps.

  • Hi Steve, is this "As for dealing with aggression, and someone who is always coming at you and pressing forward into you, you must not step backwards, because that makes it much easier for him to target you." only in reference to TKD? Or are you saying this in general for other striking arts too? If the latter, then I disagree. Stepping back can open up many key strikes for a charging, aggressive opponent. One can take a step back and use the back leg for power tips and front kicks (to the core, face, head). One can take a step back and bounce the back leg for a knee to the face/head -
    – RoundHouse
    Commented Jan 3, 2021 at 3:04
  • (usually aggressive fighters have a more low stance which makes them more vulnerable to knees). Stepping back also invites the opponent for charging in, which can be exploited with side steps, diagonal steps, shifts, and pivots after stepping back (I know you mentioned those things but they can also be done more effectively after stepping back and luring the opponent). One extremely useful move by Vasyl Lomachenko is when he steps back inviting the opponent to come forward - as the opponent charges in - Loma takes a slight angle and leaps forward by bouncing off the back leg -
    – RoundHouse
    Commented Jan 3, 2021 at 3:05
  • 1
    @RoundHouse Well you are right that there are tactics you can employ with stepping back. For example, if you have the ability to sprawl. The problem with stepping back in response to a forward moving opponent is that you're making it real easy for him to know where you will be. In the video that was posted, that's basically what happened. The aggressive one just follows the other. The target is locked. That stepping back didn't work. What to do instead? What I'm describing is a way of preventing the target lock completely. What you're describing is more like a decoy, where you know that he... Commented Jan 3, 2021 at 3:13
  • 1
    ... can predict where you'll be and will therefore do as you anticipate. Then you can prepare some kind of counter, since you know he's going to take the bait and do what you expect. Plenty of options there. But first let's work on side-stepping and moving in unpredictable ways. That should frustrate a forward moving opponent. The same with half-beat timing. Then add decoying as I suggested. Plenty of options. But just back-peddling as a panic response is unintelligent. That's what I saw on the video, and that must not happen. Commented Jan 3, 2021 at 3:16
  • 1
    @user3405291 Awesome! Glad to hear you made progress in such a short time. Imagine what you can accomplish over the next year or two? I saw your comments. All of the things you weren't successful doing take time to learn. I wouldn't expect success right away. Play with the concepts with a willing partner first, then apply it to sparring. Use your kicks to push him back when he gets too close. He'll want to push them aside and drive in again. Use that knowledge to decoy. If you know what he's going to do, you have an advantage. He'll leave himself open for a spinning hook kick to his head. Commented Jan 6, 2021 at 20:20

He is moving quite slowly and favours a front kick.

You can bet he will use a front kick against you. So train to deal with that.

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