Do You Know Thy Enemy?

Why do you train? I’m going to stop and make an assumption here for a moment that your training in some form of combatives is because you want to increase your efficacy at fighting. Whether you are training to be a competition fighter or learning how to be a door-kicker to go on tour over in the sandbox, you are training with a particular adversary in mind. It might be the champ you’re fighting next week at the local fight night or it could be some scumbag who wants to kill you and destroy everything you stand for.

Does it matter?


Knowing the tools, techniques, and tactics of your adversary can be the difference between survival and death. Without an idea of your adversary and his strengths or weaknesses you could be putting too much emphasis on unnecessary skills and creating your own weaknesses.

Analyzing your adversary

Before starting a new training regimen (or at least before getting too deep in your training), sit down and think about who you are fighting. If you have a specific person in mind, you need to do some research and find out their specific history, watch some film, whatever it takes.

If you’re training for a slightly more generic mission, you need to look at the generic adversary.

I train to prepare for that day that will hopefully never come when someone decides to try and mug or kill me in the street. My adversary will probably be some lowlife, and he will probably have a friend or friends who are trying to help him. He’ll likely be armed and think that I am not armed. He will attack me when he thinks he has the upper hand. He is more likely to want something I have than take my life, but I can’t assume that is the case.

Make sure you take the time to figure out who you will be fighting.

Adapt your training

Once you know your adversary, it is time to adjust your training. Find out what holes in your current training exist that this adversary might exploit and plan on fixing them. What skills do you need to defeat him?

Training just to train is great, but training with a purpose is better. Make sure to pressure test with this opponent in mind. Did you find yourself winded or outmatched in your strength? You should also adapt your physical training to fill the gaps found by pressure testing.

Don’t get tunnel vision

Once you finish making your plan for adapting your training, don’t forget to check for and try to prevent tunnel vision. Just because you have an IDEA who your adversary is doesn’t mean you have him pegged. Even if you know who your adversary is next week ,you still need to think about the next fight. Make sure you look at your specific plan and look at your own known general strengths and weaknesses. Adapt this plan as needed to make sure you are constantly working to improve. Life is unpredictable and so is your opponent.

Who is your enemy? What do you need to focus? Share your thoughts with us in the comment section.

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