Progressive Forward Pressure – Basic Striking Drill for Stand Up Fighting

A while ago I posted a video of the basic striking drill I teach for stand up fighting in combat sports. Every student in my class starts learning it as of his first class and it works well in teaching many things at the same time. In that first video, I showed the basic version along with a couple ways to add leg techniques and in the article I explained the reasoning behind the specific details. In this video, the focus is now on strategy and tactics. Now the goal is to generate forward pressure on the opponent, to take the fight to him and put him on the defensive.

Very often, beginning fighters launch into a long flurry of strikes when they do that. They just storm forward and throw one technique after the other in the hopes that one of them gets through. This tactic can and does work. However, it typically leaves you open to counters when fighting experienced opponents. It also costs a lot of energy and if it doesn’t yield results, you just blew away all that energy for nothing. I believe a fighter who is both well-trained and experienced has much better tools for this goal than just going berserk on his opponent.

Progressive forward pressure is one of those tools.

I’ll explain in more detail below, first take a look at the video.

Here are some pointers on how to make this work for you:

  • Don’t pull your punches. Progressive forward pressure means that every technique is thrown with sufficient speed and impact to hurt the opponent if he doesn’t block or evade it. If you don’t have that kind of authority in your techniques, he can counter you pretty much at will.
  • Move in and out. The whole idea is to avoid getting in the habit of charging forward in a reckless manner. So your footwork is critical. Start close enough so you can reach the pad man with one step and get clear right away after your last technique lands.
  • Keep your guard up. You want to ingrain the skill of minimizing openings for your opponent as you’re attacking, it’s all about attack and defense at the same time. So make sure you don’t drop your hands or shoulders as you attack. And especially avoid dropping your guard as you retreat.
  • Focus. Attacking in a progressive manner is different than simply charging in; you need to multi-task. You have to split your focus between attacking aggressively and being ready to defend if your opponent counters.  At the same time, you have to stay in balance and not get carried away by your forward momentum or you’ll be easy to counter. Notice how my student stays centered at all times when he punches and uses quick footwork to retreat, allowing him to always be in position to defend or counter should I attack him. That’s the goal.
  • Active pad man. The pad man needs to be an active opponent. For the purpose of filming this video, we stayed on a straight line and I didn’t move a lot. But you should be moving around and imitate an actual fight with realistic footwork. I also counter immediately after my student lands the last technique of each combination. That keeps him on his toes and forces him to focus on good defense. If he drops his guard, doesn’t step back immediately or doesn’t retract his leg fast enough, then I hit him.

This is one of the many tactical variations of the basic striking combination I use. There are many more, but this is a good one to start with. I hope it works for you too.

If you’re looking for more information on how to improve your pad work, you might like this video.


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  1. Very nice drill, thanks for sharing

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