What is a good strategy to land a good punch on your opponent?

I have been sparring around 5 times now with a friend, and we both have problem knowing how to attack each other. We both practice Bujinkan and our instructor thinks that sparring is not how you should be practicing, so we can´t turn to him for help.

I intend to change martial art after the summer to one that does encourage sparring, but until then I would like to train on how to attack through my opponent's guard.


4 Answers 4


Getting through the defenses of an opponent is one of the fundamental concepts of every combat strategy devised by man. There are at least as many ways to circumvent an opponent's defenses as there ways to defend oneself.

I will attempt to break things down to a basic level.

Here are some of the most common means of defense utilized in unarmed combat:

  • Dodging/Evasion - This entails moving one's body out of the path of an oncoming attack.

  • Blocking - This is the act of interposing a part of one's body (usually a limb) into the path of an attack to protect more vulnerable targets and defuse the oncoming delivery of kinetic energy.

  • Parrying - Similar to blocking, a parry uses part of one's body (usually a limb) to deflect the angle of the opponent's attack and direct it away from one's body.

  • Counterpunching/Counterstriking - This is defense through counter-offense. The idea is to strike an opponent more rapidly than they are attempting to strike you, and in doing so disrupt their commitment to their original strike.

Here are some common means used to overcome the defenses I listed above:

  • Feinting - This is lying with body language. Most defenses rely on determining the path of an incoming attack. Feinting is signaling to your opponent one (or more) path(s) that your attack will take and then changing the angle of attack to something else. Feinting can be very simple or very complex depending on the skill levels of the combatants.

  • Mix-ups/Combinations - Blocking and parrying require an opponent to anticipate the angles of the aggressor's attack. A string of attacks from multiple angles in rapid succession can overwhelm the defender's ability to adapt and effectively defend themselves. This is especially true when all four limbs can be brought to bear in combination.

  • Limb striking/grappling - This method involves directly targeting an opponents defending limbs with either strikes or grappling attacks. This can be as simple as drawing an opponent's guard down to punch their unprotected head, or striking at the soft tissues of the arms and legs to make an opponent more wary/hesitant of placing them within reach.

  • Overwhelming strength/speed - This is perhaps the most simplistic approach, but sometimes simplest is best. When one clearly has an advantage in strength, and/or speed, one can more-or-less attack their opponent at will. If one's reflexes and striking speed outclass their opponent's ability to react, they can attack around and through any attempts at defense. With enough strength and mass one can easily bat aside any interposing limbs to strike at more important targets.

  • Attack baiting/riposting - This is similar in concept to counterpunching. In most cases, an opponent must create an opening in their own defenses when they make an attack. A riposte is a counterattack immediately following a defensive measure like a block, or parry. It ideally capitalizes on the opponent having not yet recovered to their guard position. A more advanced technique is baiting an attack, which entails deliberately leaving an opening in one's defenses to provoke a predictable line of attack from an opponent, and then counterattacking them while their guard is broken.

I think this covers most of the basic concepts without getting bogged down in specific techniques or obscure corner-cases. I'm sure someone will point out something glaring I might have missed.

  • 1
    Thank you. I didn't want to go into technical specifics unless the OP/question author specified they wanted any. In this case, the OP seems to be fairly inexperienced and I don't want to confuse them with jargon and/or unnecessary technical depth which might seem overwhelming.
    – Zen_Hydra
    Commented May 3, 2016 at 13:25
  • This answer is too comprehensive for me to add a second, the one thing that I would add is a broader concept of learning to apply 'angles' in combat. Changing ones line of attack to come in to the opponent from an angle rather then from straight ahead often opens up possibilities for bypassing the defense (I have found this to apply via multiple arts that I have practiced)
    – Btuman
    Commented Jun 29, 2016 at 18:27

I think that reversing the order of your question makes the answer you seek easier to find.

We both practice Bujinkan and our instructor thinks that sparring is not how you should be practicing, so we can´t turn to him for help.

This indicates that you should practice another art, because what this one is teaching you does not seem to be what you want.

I have been sparring around 5 times now with a friend, and we both have problem knowing how to attack each other.

Sparring between two people who haven't been taught techniques for sparring is not going to be very productive.

What is a good strategy to land a good punch on your opponent?

Find a school with an instructor who values sparring, and train under them. This might mean boxing, or knock-down karate, or another martial art. Remember that the two most important criteria are 1) that you can find it near you and 2) that they spar.

  • As I mention in the last section above I intend to seek a new martial art after the summer. But I would like to spar during summer and then get an idea on how to punch the other person.
    – Helgegren
    Commented May 2, 2016 at 15:13
  • 2
    @Helgegren I'm sorry I don't have a better answer. The unfortunate truth as I see it is that until you start that new art you're trying to reinvent the wheel. Where the wheel is being punched in the face. Commented May 2, 2016 at 20:42

Zen_Hydra explained specific techniques for hitting through a guard and is realy thorough. I agree that going into any more technical depth would be wrong and might be overwhelming.

Nevertheless I have to give some advice additionally as I could not comment on the original question.

The sad truth is that there is no real strategie on how to punch someone. You can make one up for yourself but you never be assured that it will work though.

You have to realize that the answer you are seeking for is - to do sparring! Whether that is with a friend or in the gym, the essence is that you learn to land ANY punch properly on a moving target from different angles! You will understand that perfecting punching a heavy bag is something very different compared to a moving target.

After you are comfortable with the movements and dynamics during sparring and can land some hard, precise (what is more important) hits, no matter in what position you are, you should start to implement the stuff Zen_Hydra explained... ... tactics or trying to stick to a plan that you made up for the sparring or a fight as now you don't have to think about the punching itself anymore and it feels naturally for you.

If you consider doing some competitions, sparring is an essential and unavoidable training tool. If you are training martial arts for the purpose of fun, self defense etc. you should include some sparring from time to time but I would focus more on conditioning and endurance... as it is healthier and puts you in advantage compared to a 'standard' street browler.


We can do the punch in the presence of the guard by the following ways:

  1. Usually an opponent(right handed) keeps his left hand forward as a guard to protect his stomach. So by removing that by your hand which is forward and punching on the stomach will score you a point.
  2. You can also land a punch on the stomach in the presence of a guard by sliding the front leg of the opponent by pushing it with your front leg and then the guard of the opponent is then removed for a moment and then you can punch, if you want to do this technique your reaction time should be fast.
  3. You can also punch him by simply dropping him. In this technique you would have to bring your front leg between your opponent's front and hind leg and then you have to slide his leg backward by your leg and pushing him in the opposite direction in which you have made his leg slide. You would have to push him by holding his shoulders by your hand and then he falls down and then you can punch him in his stomach.
  4. Punch them in the face. If they cover the face, hit them to the body. Good luck and remember that practise and practise makes the man perfect.
  • Who has voted against me and what i have done wrong
    – user26453
    Commented Jun 20, 2016 at 17:05
  • What is wrong with my answer
    – user26453
    Commented Jun 20, 2016 at 17:05

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