Misdirection and Feints in Sport Fighting and Warfare

Misdirection is the oldest trick in the world for a reason, it works! There are countless places on a battlefield that combatants could be utilizing misdirection, often there are multiple efforts at misdirection employed by both adversaries simultaneously. When a smaller force goes up against a larger force, misdirection can be the deciding factor. To minimize casualties and gain the initiative, even a superior force has reasons to make the enemy think they are committed to doing something else. When fighting capabilities of two adversaries are close to equal, other means than brute force or firepower have to be employed to gain the upper hand.

This is often the case in sport fighting. Well matched fighters have to employ misdirection and feints to overcome the solid defense of their opponent.

Here’s a typical example. A good wrestler may know that his or her opponent wants to avoid going to the ground where they’ll have a disadvantage. You’ll see good wrestlers in MMA fights fake a takedown, then nail the opponent with an overhand right while their hands are down getting ready to stuff the shot.

Here’s an example from close quarter fighting. A common problem in any hand to hand fight is being taken down and mounted. It’s a bad spot to be in, but there are some solutions, and they can all be enhanced with the use of misdirection. One solution to being mounted is to buck your hips and roll your opponent off of you to one side or the other. If applied explosively, this will often work even against a bigger stronger opponent. However if they have a good base and are ready to counter your technique, you’re in big trouble.

One of the best ways to make sure a technique is going to work is to set it up with an opposite move. You have to make your opponent think you are going to buck him one way, as soon as they resist and base out on that side, immediately switch directions while the reaction is taking place. Again, the point is to get your opponent to commit attention and energy to defending a perceived threat even though the real threat is waiting in the wings to be unleashed.

The next time you are training for any combat situation, whether it’s one on one or with a team, keep an eye on all the ways that misdirection and feints are being utilized. Watching others train or watching sports is a great way to observe the effects of misdirection and feints.

We see it in sports all the time, whether it’s a jab step in the opposite direction by a point guard trying to make his way around a defender, to a screen pass in football where the defensive line is goaded into rushing the quarterback only have the ball go overhead into the waiting arms of the halfback behind them. You can even use misdirection to seem to accept your opponent’s feint, and be prepared with your own countermove to their real attack.

The possibilities are endless, and they run from the simple to the complex. In fact, the simplest feints are often the best, because they are easier to sell as a committed threat. Where do you use misdirection and feints in your training or fighting?


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