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The 8 combat distances you need to know

The 8 combat distances you need to know

The 8 combat distances you need to know are a real fundamental!

The distance in combat is the space between you and your opponent and from which you can hit more easily with some shots than others.

Through footwork I can vary this distance to use my arsenal of shots and combinations of shots, closing the distance or entering a phase of struggle standing or on the ground.

Based on the distance I can build a strategy that best suits your personal characteristics and those of your opponent trying to “play” in a range where you are more comfortable and your opponent is more uncomfortable.

Clearly being two moving subjects this distance to be bridged it is essential to master two fundamental aspects of combat, footwork and timing.

Understanding the distance

Understanding and proper use of distance is one of the most important knowledge you need to have if you are a practitioner of martial arts and combat sports but in general a fighter.

Understanding the distance or range is something fundamental because it allows you to stay at a safe distance from your opponent and know from what distance to hit and what techniques we can use from that particular range.

This allows you to increase the effectiveness of your shots, the energy expenditure avoiding to shoot empty shots, have a good defense because you use the distance from your opponent correctly to your advantage.

If you do not assimilate the concept of distance in the right way and do not use it perfectly or at least correctly, an agonist, despite having a good athletic preparation and excellent techniques, will not be completely effective and will invariably be defeated.

Instead, an agonist with lower abilities, both technical and physical, but with a correct use of distance, has a good chance of becoming a champion.

The 8 distances of combat


If you understand distance you concentrate and focus a lot of your work in the footwork, which is the thing that allows you to manage the various ranges with the moves and steps, and you don’t just think about the shots, you’re going to work focusing on the position of your body with respect to your opponent and what shots from that distance pull.

Through the footwork you enter and exit, or if you want to close and open the distance, etc.

This allows you to stay in the range where you have decided to work to launch your attacks and you move in an adequate distance to neutralize the attacks of your opponent but at the same time that allows you to counterattack.

Knowing the distances you learn about the shots that you can use at that time effectively and decide which one is most appropriate to use to launch attacks.

Know and use combat distances

It is therefore very important to know and use all the distances even if surely each of us has a range that he prefers.

For example a:

  • the Boxer or a Wing Chung practitioner will look for the medium and short distance,
  • a Brazilian Jiu Jitsu wrestler the short and ground fight,
  • Muay Thai athlete will look for long, medium and short distance with clinch
  • or the Taekwondo athlete the long distance,
  • et cetera.

The 8 distances of combat

The theory of combat distance

The distance must be the right separation between an athlete and his opponent, to make sure that his attacks take effect and that the other does not have time to react and put into practice the appropriate defense.

From the distance depend, as you will see, the different techniques, their effectiveness and the possibility of defense and response.

Ultimately, distance is the indispensable ingredient of competitive tactics and also provides the athlete with a certain margin of safety, giving him the opportunity to immediately see the actions of the opponent, later managing to counter them in time.

In principle, the best distance will be the average one, from which the athlete, duly protected with an effective guard, can study the strategy, tactics and technique of his opponent.

Then during the fight, it will change it progressively, until it reaches the optimal distance.

Remember that each fighter adopts the combat distance most congenial to him and this depends on his physical constitution, his technical ability and the training system he followed in the period before the competition.

Combat strategy

Forcing the opponent to enter the optimal distance is one of the phases of the combat strategy and to it must be aimed at the feints, dodges and movements of the fighter, causing rhythm breaks or errors in the opponent’s position that will provide him with the necessary advantage and finally the victory.

The theory of the three distances is true but it is not complete!

Often to simplify in gyms it is said and explained that there are three types of combat distances: the short, the medium and the long, but this is not the case especially in a vision of total combat.

The fighter can easily know what distance he is in: he will stretch his arm and touch his companion with his fist on his mouth, this is the average distance.

Obviously a distance greater or less than this, represents respectively the long and the short one.

Logically, in the distance that is called average, if the athlete just touches the mouth of the companion with the naked fist, when the glove is put on, for the thickness of the latter, the distance is shortened, allowing the athlete to simulate a shot.

The combat distance will determine the way of its development and the techniques to be used; for example, in the offensive phase we will use punches in the short or medium distance and kicks in the medium-long distance.

On the contrary, in the defensive phase you will use the entire defensive technical arsenal in all distances, approaching the melee (in-fighting distance) where we will give space to hand-to-hand techniques in grip or fight/trapping.

Features that affect distance in combat:


  • Your technical fighting knowledge
  • Your physical condition
  • Your height
  • Your weight

Of your opponent

  • Your technical fighting knowledge
  • Your physical condition
  • Your height
  • Your weight

As you can see they are identical to yours and it is no coincidence.

Clearly if an opponent is very tall and you are very short you should hardly play on the long distance as even if you are light and a very heavy one I do not think it is better to use a short distance.

Experiment strategies with different training partners with different physical characteristics and techniques.

The fundamental distances are 4+1:

Now I want to give you two lists of distances that you absolutely need to know and know that you will have to manage in combat.

Train in the gym with targeted exercises and during sparring.

  • NO FIGHT or SAFETY RANGE – Distance beyond the reach of kicks and sticks/knives
  • LONG RANGE – Football distance
  • MEDIUM RANGE – Fist distance and knees
  • CLOSE RANGE OR TRAPPING RANGE – Distance of trapping, elbow, knees, heads

How to train:

  • 1 way: force you to make a certain predetermined distance is your training partner another, for example long distance and the other short, or medium distance and the other fight, etc.
  • 2 way: During sparring keep the distance you decided you want to do not change it in this case based on what your sparring partner does.
  • 3 way: During sparring the distance and the shots you throw continuously change. Change it every 30 seconds so in 3 minutes you make 6 distances that you can still repeat and if you make 5-minute rounds even more.

But now I want to complete the distances because you will soon understand that there are many more.. and it is necessary to explore them all to understand how to best express the absence of shots that you possess or that you need to learn to know.

The complete distances are 8:

  • NO FIGHT or SAFETY RANGE – Distance beyond the reach of kicks and sticks/knives
  • LONG RANGE – Football distance
  • MEDIUM RANGE – Fist distance and knees
  • BLIND SPOT RANGE – Behind the opponent’s back
  • CLOSE RANGE or TRAPPING RANGE – Distance of trapping, elbow, knees, heads
  • WRESTLING RANGE or CLINCH RANGE: gripping distance
  • GROUND FIGHTING – Ground fighting distance.
  • ONE STANDING ONE DOWN – Distance with opponent standing and one on the ground

Depending on the distance you can and should use different techniques and shots.


The use of different combat distances is determined not only by your personal skills but also by the characteristics of the opponent.

Consider that if an opponent wants to fight on the ground it is clear that he feels strong in the fight and your strategy must be to stand up unless you feel confident fighting on the ground, so it’s very important to try to DO NOT PLAY into your opponent’s game.

Clearly as you can guess the wider your technical baggage is in the different distances and the more you can vary your game adapting it to the situation and context.

Train on all distances and remember that it’s A FONDAMENTAL for a martial arts practitioner or modern fighting sports like mixed martial arts but it’s even more so in self-defense where there are even fewer rules.

Clearly there are fewer rules and more you have to work to develop attack and defense strategies from any distance.

Stay at the right distance!!

Street Fight Mentality & Fight Sport


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Con una passione per la difesa personale e gli sport da combattimento, mi distinguo come praticante e fervente cultore e ricercatore sulle metodologie di allenamento e strategie di combattimento. La mia esperienza abbraccia un vasto panorama di discipline: dal dinamismo del Boxing alla precisione del Muay Thai, dalla tecnica del Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu all'energia del Grappling, dal Combat Submission Wrestling (CSW) all'intensità del Mixed Martial Arts (MMA). Non solo insegno, ma vivo la filosofia di queste arti, affinando costantemente metodi e programmi di allenamento che trascendono il convenzionale. La mia essenza si riflette nell'autodifesa: Filipino Martial Arts (FMA), Dirty Boxing, Silat, l'efficacia del Jeet Kune Do & Kali, l'arte della scherma con coltelli e bastoni, e la tattica delle armi da fuoco. Incarno la filosofia "Street Fight Mentality", un approccio senza fronzoli, diretto e strategico, unito a un "State Of Love And Trust" che bilancia l'intensità con la serenità. Oltre al tatami, la mia curiosità e competenza si spingono verso orizzonti diversi: un blogger professionista con la penna sempre pronta, un bassista dal groove inconfondibile e un artigiano del coltello, dove ogni lama è un racconto di tradizione e innovazione. Questa sinfonia di abilità non solo definisce la mia identità professionale, ma dipinge il ritratto di un individuo che nella diversità trova la sua unica e inconfondibile voce e visione. Street Fight Mentality & Fight Sport! Andrea


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