Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Drill Post #21: The Guarding Hand

The hand that is not striking while the other hand is striking is often, if not always, referred to as the "guarding hand" because it is thought to be most responsible for immediate defense during your attack (at least from the waist up). If you are throwing a right jab, the left is the guarding hand, and if you are throwing a left cross, then the right hand is the guarding hand.This is of course simplified for the sake of discussion, as someone might feel that head movement is more important than the guarding hand, for example.

Various systems stress the guarding hand should "always" be, on the cheek, centerline, by the armpit (many Gung Fu styles), by the side of the face on the striking arm side and so on. Which is correct? All and none. The problem is the "always" of it. Having the hand up by or in front of the face as a default is good, as it's at least potentially in the vicinity to defend, but to be more specific, the important issue is, where is the most immediately threatening hand of your opponent? Is it close to the right or left side of your face? Close to your face in the center? Your ribs?

To train where to put the guarding hand, play with this drill. "A," the trainer, steps into "B," the defender's, striking range, and B stop-hits with a jab. As B is doing so, A will have one hand clearly more close to B, so that B knows where to place his guarding hand. A varies which hand he places where, every time he steps in and B stop hits. A does not defend against the stop-hit, as this drill is all about the development of B's guarding hand, so B should take care to control his stop hit by either stopping short, or lightly placing his hand on A's chest.

If the threatening hand of A is close enough to, say, B's chin, B will actively monitor (place his hand on that hand), but if it's not within six inches or so, B will not reach to touch that hand, as it may be a deception to open another line for a strike.

This is an easy way to make placement of the guarding hand a comfortable instinctive action.

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