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10 Ways to be a Better Fighter

Expect the best

When you expect the best you fill yourself up with positive emotional power and thoughts. Our worst enemy can be our own mind with its doubts and questions. We all struggle with a variety of deep, unconscious fears and negativity which can limit our reach. Start to change this attitude now by creating positive expectations of the future.

Prepare for the worst

This sounds negative but isn’t. It is like being ready to die. If you are ready to die, it doesn’t matter what happens. What’s the worst that can happen? Contemplate the worst case scenario and make peace with it, then let it go. This way you are getting your ego out-of-the-way. Then you can give it 100% with less fear.

Practice breath control

Controlling your breathing can induce calmer, more resourceful states of mind. This allows us to focus on the task at hand – whether that is training, fight instruction or your opponent in the ring. You are in charge of your emotional state. Don’t let people, circumstances or situations tell you how to feel.

Practice relaxation

Practice full body relaxation for 1/2 hour every day. This is an invaluable technique. You will develop the skill of relaxing at will in every situation. Practicing relaxation brings an awareness of how your body is feeling at any given moment. This in turn lets you know whether you are feeling stress or carrying tension around in your system. When you know it’s there you can begin to let it go.

Use visualization

Combine this technique with your deep relaxation exercises and imagine every scene of future success in your mind’s eye. Rehearsing for a positive future helps you deal with any negative feelings or anxiety you may have about upcoming challenges.


This involves developing balance of perspective. This does NOT mean lacking passion or commitment. It is much more than that. It’s a state of mind. When you have full-time excitement, full-motivation and at the same time not being ‘concerned’ over the outcome – you will have already won.


Do not waste time thinking about past failures or regrets. Do not waste time with vague day-dreaming of the future. Where’s your focus? Save your dreaming for your relaxation sessions where they will do more good. Keep ‘now’ for right now.

Positive influences

Take yourself away from pessimistic, negative, destructive people or groups. Surround yourself with people who will support your goals in life. If they don’t want to support you or don’t think you can do it – you don’t need them. Life’s too short.

Find a good teacher

Having a good teacher, training instructor, Sensei or Sifu is invaluable. As well as setting great examples, the best teachers will rejoice in your success and be the source of encouragement and valuable constructive criticism.

Seek a higher goal

Find a higher purpose in your life that means more to you than just winning the next fight. Find a long-term goal that helps not only yourself but your friends, family and the wider community. It will be a source of motivation and hope through any times of pain or discouragement. Then, one day when you really need it, help will come from unlikely sources.

Fighting Techniques

There are an enormous number fighting techniques in the world. Traditional martial arts and hand to hand combat styles incorporate different combinations of fighting techniques within their syllabus. There isn’t one perfect fighting system or method. Becoming the best fighter involves building a foundation in one style then developing your weak areas. This is an overview of the most common unarmed combat techniques.

Ground fighting, grappling and wrestling

How you fight on the floor is your ground game. Grappling is a central part of traditional hand to hand combat, full-contact combat sports and now modern mixed martial arts.

Two opponents fight to achieve a superior position over the other using throws, take downs, clinches, locks, sweeps and pins. Once in a dominant position a fighter will attempt a submission hold to force the opponent to ‘tap out’ or submit due to pain or choking. These are also called chokeholds for that reason. The ‘Anaconda’ is an example of a choke hold.

Wrestling/grappling styles include: Brazilian Jiu-jitsu, Vale Tudo, Luta Livre, Jujutsu, Judo, Sumo, Tegumi, Catch wrestling, Breton Gouren, Schwingen, Icelandic Glima, Turkish Oil wrestling, Uzbek Kurash, Greco-Roman wrestling, Freestyle wrestling, Pankration, Combat Sambo, African Laamb, Chinese Shuai Jiao, Indian Kushti, Bengali Mukna, Korean Ssireum, Burmese Naban, Khmer Traditional Wrestling, Filipino Dumog, American College Wrestlingand others.

Stand-up fighting

Fighting from an upright position enables a fighter to execute strikes, punches, elbows, kicks, knees with the body and weapon attacks as well as defend against attacks with blocks. Your stand-up game includes defense against take downs and clinches and in mixed martial arts – working with your back against the cage.


Part of the stand-up game, clinch-holding and clinching is grappling with your opponent whilst in an upright position. The object of a clinch is to neutralize many of your opponents short-range attacks. A bear hug is an example of a clinch hold. Your fighting strategy has to change in a clinch hold. Getting your opponent to the floor, through throws, take downs and sweeps is executed from the clinch position. See wrestling styles above.


Martial art and hand to hand combat styles that emphasise attack with fingers, hands, arms and legs are striking arts. Speed, strength and power are needed for effective application of strikes. Striking methods include punches, palm strikes, empty hand techniques, spear hands, knife hands, ridge hands, slaps, cupped hands, hammerfists, knuckle extensions and elbow strikes. Head butts and shoulder butts are also effective striking techniques.

Striking styles include: Boxing, Muay Thai, Wing Chun, Shaolin Kung Fu and Kyokushin Karate

Kicking and legwork

Kicking enables you to attack your opponent with powerful foot and leg strikes whilst keeping a short distance away. Kicks can target the head and upper body as well as the lower limbs of your opponent and vulnerable areas like the groin. If you feel more confident with your legs and stances or have height or range, kicking and legwork styles will suit you. Examples of kicks include front kicks, roundhouse kicks, side kicks, back kicks and knee strikes. Knee strikes are particularly useful within the clinch for dead legging an opponent.

Kicking styles include: Kickboxing, Muay Thai, Capeoira, Taekwondo, Hapkido, Sanshou and Savate.

Joint locking, leverages and dislocation.

Joint locking is a technique taught in many martial arts and self-defense methods which results in breaking or removing (dislocating) a joint from its normal position. This results in extreme pain.Putting on a joint-lock involves manipulating (leveraging) a part of the body – arm, wrist, elbow, isolating the nearest joint then taking it to the end of its normal range of movement.

For instance, you have your opponent pinned to the floor. Holding your knee against the back of your opponents shoulder while simultaneously pulling the arm back first to a straight position and then further so the shoulder joint feels the pressure. Exerting more force in this backward direction will tear/break the upper arm bone (Humerus) from the shoulder-blade (Scapula).

The fear of potential pain is often enough to subdue your opponent when first applying the technique. A break or dislocation can leave lasting bone, tendon and ligament damage to the joint and limit mobility. Arm locks involve the elbow or shoulder. Wrist locks involve the area around the wrist. Leg locks involve the hip, knee and ankles. The ‘Nelson’ – quarter, half, three-quarter and full – is a famous example of a lock technique involving the arm and neck.

Joint locking styles include: Brazilian Jiu-jitsu, Jujutsu, Hapkido, Chin-na and Shuai-Jiao

Compression lock/Muscle Lock/Muscle slicer

During grappling, muscle is forced into bones in a compression lock or in combination with a joint lock. Common compression locks include the Achilles and the calf slicer.

Pressure points

Pressure point, vital point or nerve point techniques are aimed at vulnerable points on the body that are reputed to cause pain and/or immobilization as well as a range of other different physical, mental and spiritual effects. Pressure point techniques can be used offensively in combat or as a way of healing.