The ProblemThis may seem obvious but it is so very common among most of the schools of martial arts I have studied. I did it for years and even taught it for a while. Do no back up in a fight! If you must back up, do not do it in a straight line. The problem is that when you back up in a straight line away from your opponent you have a few problems on your hands.
- You cannot see where you are going.
- You will never run backwards faster than the other guy can run forward.
- By going straight back you stay in the line of fire. (ie all the kicks and punches)
So the fix is to do one of a few options. First if you must backup do so while also moving sideways. If you imagine the attack as a line of force through your center, ideally you want to back up and move offline of that attack simultaneously. Again, this is IF you must feel you need to back up at all.
A better solution in my opinion is to move in a circle around your opponent. The tighter the circle you can perform the better. The reasons and various but I will give you a couple of them here. First, by keeping close you have to move less to get a better result. Think of it this way. If I am standing 1 foot away from the attacker I only have to move 2 or 3 feet in circle around the person to be 90 degrees to their side. If I am 5 feet away then I must move 10 feet or so along an arc to get me to that same 90 degree spot. This is exaggerated but I hope you get the idea. Anyway, the quicker you can make the person you fight turn the more they will have to reset to keep throwing attacks.
Plus, if you can get away from being nose to nose with someone you can also get where you have some much better targets. Hitting someone in the side of the head is considerably easier then hitting them in the face. In my opinion. Loads harder for them to defend.
Make the sparring space smaller then a ring. Tape off a space where the combatants cannot get outside of a kicks reach of each other. You can even put four other waiting combatants on the sidelines of the ring with shields to keep the players in the middle. Think of this as confined space fighting practice. Something most Karate and Taekwondo schools lack. Again, that from personal experience. Tell and repeat that no matter how much space they have from here on out they need to circle circle circle. They need to do their best to never back up when possible.
Another drill is similar but if the students have belts such as in Karate, take a spare bit of rope or a couple of belts and tie each end to a belt of each student. The shorter the distance between them the more interesting thing become. At first you might even tell them to ignore the rope as much as possible. Later tell them to use the rope as part of the fight. (Forcing them to use their body weight to upset each others balance and other fun tricks.)
Lastly, this is assuming a Karate type class. Tell the fighters that they must place a hand on the person they are fighting. Perhaps on a shoulder to start. Tell them they must do their best to keep a hold of their opponent throughout the fight. That does not means that have to stay nose to nose. Over time they should start using their hand to control the other player as well as helping them to keep track of them when they are moving around. There is more to this type of sparring but this is a good start.
I studied Karate and other martial arts for several years without putting a lot of the strategies into words. Some of them, now that I can explain them, are terrible. But a few are very useful. This is a good one. Give these and try and please feel free to make comments. I love feedback. Especially if it is constructive.