All martial arts and systems of self defense will, in some way deal with range. Range, in this sense, means the proximity of your opponent, his ability to attack you, and your ability to attack him. Many systems have a ton of different ranges, kicking, grappling, striking, weapons etc. While there is nothing wrong with this, I prefer to simplify. Upon simplification, we can then internalize the principles and realize spontaneous appropriate response.
Let me make this abundantly clear: Until you internalize and intuitively understand range, memorizing a bunch of ranges will be no good in combat. Knowing that your striking range is 28 inches is no good, if you can’t instantly look at your opponent and understand whether or not you can strike without conscious thought. There is only one cure, simplification and practice.
I have simplified my range system into three basic ranges – long, medium, and short range. Why? Because at each of these ranges – choice of tactics changes. Breaking these ranges down any further makes no difference to the way we practice. Here are my definitions.
Long range: At long range, none of your body parts (or your opponent’s) are immediately available to attack without closing the distance. In other words, for your opponent to attack you, he will need to move towards you in some way.
Medium range: Medium range begins where, if you and your opponent were to outstretch your arms, your fingertips would touch. Since every part of the body can attack or be attacked, we are no longer in long range. The limit of medium range is reached when you are able to touch the torso of your opponent.
Short range: Once you are able to touch an opponents body or head area, you are in short range. Short range would include grappling and close combat distance in other systems.
Now, I can hear many people saying – “but that would mean that each range changes as different weapons are used.” You bet. Long range for a sword is different from a kick or a punch. Missile weapons, such as firearms, are really the only exceptions that don’t fit well into this system.
So the next criticism might be, “well then you have to memorize a bunch of ranges for different weapons.” Yes, and no, but mostly no. Remember, the idea is to have a little bit of knowledge and then internalize the principles. You need to intuitively know when you’re inside medium range of someone holding a stick, knife or broken bottle. There are no shortcuts here, you must practice with opponents empty handed and holding different weapons. And, by the way, you would be surprised at the number of sword and machete attacks in the U.S. every year, so don’t count out long blades even for reality-based training.
Your tactics at each of these ranges will depend on your style. If you want to learn ours, you need to come train with us.