Invincibility lies in the defense

Arron "Bad Man" Barringer

I am frequently concussed.  It’s a word, look it up. It means being injured in a manner that causes a concussion. It should be a mood icon for a MySpace page with dazed, wiggly eyes. Essentially, we’re talking about getting hit in the head. A lot.

That’s my life, it seems. I learned the “old school” American Irish style of boxing. Wade into battle fist swinging in a brutal war of attrition. That’s great with pillows strapped to your hands, but soon you enter the four-ounce world of Mixed Martial Arts where fighters like Machida are landing punches with sniper-like accuracy. Suddenly, the war of attrition means mat naps and ice packs.

Case in point, the moment in the second round where Kenny Burke decides to punch me in the jaw. To add to this, it seems my defense was to hurl myself headlong into his fist as fast as I could. Remember the little seatbelt videos where a semi hits a Volvo head on at sixty? Feel free to insert this visual into your mind as a faithful representation of the punch in question.

I can’t tell you what I was thinking, simply because I don’t remember anything from about two seconds before the punch until I rolled into the single leg. As I walked to my corner, I remember looking at Chris and Sam and asking, “What did he hit me with?” For a second, I had thought someone had thrown a wrench into the cage. I suppose if I could dodge a wrench…

I stagger backward, my arms up and my head down. As I step, my right knee gives way, and I begin the long, sad, slow crumble to the mat. From here, I look back in Kenny’s direction. I could have been looking for the license plate of the truck that just slapped me for all it was worth. Luckily, high stress repetitive training kicked in, and I was able to fight through. For a second, however, the birdies and I had a bit of a jig.

The first problem lies in our essential physical structure. The human body is not built in a defensive manner. We stand erect. Vitals open to the world, bipedal legs giving our binocular vision a boost. Opposable thumbs transforming man from prey to predator.  Naturally exposed is the target of our opponent’s strikes, our chin. This is a magical button which transports the once boisterous fighter into a slobbering infant taking a mat nap.


We have to lower our chin. It needs to hide behind the muscle and bone structure of our lead side shoulder.  The motion of the jab should begin in the fist without any telegraphing of the shoulder muscles. The fist extends, slowly rotating clockwise, or inward, as the shoulder rotates into the punch. Should your absolutely flawless, telegraph-free, ninja death jab be slipped or anticipated; the shoulder deflects the majority of the energy. At worst we take it on the forehead. There’s nothing there, so I’m all right with this.

I threw my jab with my chin up and my shoulder down. I’m pretty sure I rolled my shoulder back to “load” the punch as well. Kenny, on the other hand, appears to parry with his weak hand and send his fist into my jaw. Look at that form! The follow through!  Watch me crumple to the ground! Fun!

Avoid this. Mount a powerful attack while keeping a measure of defense available. Especially when fighting an opponent of longer reach. They have the additional weapon of distance.

1.       Stance

2.       Initiating Movement

3.       Turning It Over

4.       Return

“Invincibility lies in the defense.” – Sun Tzu

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