Western New York Karate Center
Shihan Bill Reynolds
March 31, 2016

Manipulating Tactical Advantage

Once one is engaged with one or multiple opponents, whether in self-defense or as part of a planned offensive action, a martial artist must strive to take control of the encounter or leave to chance as to whether he or she will become the victim rather than the victor.   Specifically, a martial artist must use the environment in the encounter to their advantage and arrange for each opponent to come within range of the most effective technique for that person, their position in the environment, and the exact moment within which the technique will be executed. While traditional training in the martial arts focuses upon technique and timing, not much training is dedicated to the position of the opponent in the environment relative to the martial artist.  This is mainly due to their being only one aspect of position that most martial artists will manage.

There  are three aspects to a position in the environment: range, elevation, and cover.  With regard to cover, we will usually wish to maximize our cover while minimizing the cover of our opponent. With regard to elevation, generally we will seek to have a higher elevation than our opponent.  But both cover and elevation play the most significant roles when dealing with opponents at long range. Given that most martial artists do not operate offensively at long range, we will focus on examining the manipulation of range.

There are four ranges we shall consider: long, medium, short, and close-quarters. Each has a defense, tools to use at that range, and strategies to consider. Note that a parry is used to minimize damage and provide the option of a pull and a block is to cause damage as part of a defense.


Defense: avoidance only; outside the ability to immediately parry or block.

Tools: Arrow, Throwing knife, Dart, Bullet

Strategies: Use projectile weapon OR, if without a projectile weapon, use cover if possible AND either move out of range or close to MEDIUM range


Defense: avoidance, parry, or block.

Tools: Spear, Staff, Sword, Club, Nunchaku, Foot

Strategies: Use handheld weapons or unarmed striking tech at range OR push to LONG range or advance into SHORT range


Defense: avoidance if possible, otherwise parry or block

Tools: Knife, Sai, Hand, elbow, knee, foot

Strategies: Use handheld weapons or unarmed striking tech at range OR push to MEDIUM or advance or pull into CLOSE-QUARTERS range


Defense: parry or block

Tools: Hand, forearm, elbow, head, knee, shin, foot

Strategies: Use unarmed striking tech, joint-locks, strangle-holds, or grappling at range OR push or escape to SHORT range

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