Footwork - closing the gap?!

wow, Pro Wrestling! :)

A simple drill you can proctice is to just have a partner throw jabs and crosses at you, and just slip them and side step. Take your time to begin with and then work your way up to full resistance from your partner, so it is almost like a live spar.

Give yourself a couple of months and you will be surprised.



Many thanks for the info guys. I spent time practicing to hop into a jab on a bag. Yes, circling definitely makes sense, but I find that I can't react fast enough to slip punches at will...I guess I'll just have to practice this more.

To date, whenever I'm getting beaten up by big guys, I've been forced to use somewhat underhand techniques such as faking kicks to the groin to buys those precious split seconds; and also throwing the opponents leg into the ropes before attacking the supporting leg whilst his kicking leg is trapped.

With regards to slipping to the outside and using an uppercut under the punch, I've seen someone change this into a choke hold by wrapping the right arm right accross the chest and round the opponents neck before linking with the left arm round his back and squeezing - this really hurts!!!

From a boxing point of view, May I suggest you
watch a few Mike Tyson fights. He always fights
much taller opponents. I dont necessarily recommend
his lunging style but I think you will see a lot
of the things being suggested here.

You can try jab sparring, remember to jab to the body and double and triple up. Tying your lead hand down (or just not using it) to practice catching the jab.
If you always slip to the outside your opponent will catch on, feint the jab and hook you.
When you slip make sure you don't bend too much at the waist, keep your head and back straight and bend at the knees. That might help you from being pulled into the clinch.

I'm only 5'4". I like to circle but also shuffle in and out just outside of range to draw their strikes then counter. You can also switch leads in the middle of circling. If I am circling counter clockwise with left lead and I am stepping forward with a V with my right leg as they are trying to cut the ring off and fire of a straight right hand or right front kick.
Also, you can bait them into throwing a roundhouse with a high guard, block it and throw a hard right or 1-2.

Oh, another drill for range is the mirror drill for your footwork. Partner up and try to maintain the fighting measure, switching off who initiates the footwork.

Also, have someone hold pads for your jab. Practice independent motion, ie. your hand moves before your feet. Get into your fighting stance, load your lead leg, and have your feeder creep into range. Explode!! into the jab. Have feeder or even a third person watch and evaluate if you are being non-telegraphic or if you are leaning, stepping, etc before you strike. It should feel like you are going to fall on your face. This will familiarize you with your critical distance line. You can do this with teep also.

Pylometrics for explosiveness.

Hope this helps.

I agree that slipping to the outside is a good general rule-of-thumb, but it should not be an absolute. You have to let the circumstances dictate what you do. There are reasons for wanting to be able to slip to an opponents inside. For instance, you can deliver one hell of a nasty uppercut from that position...

Khun Kao

Khun Kao,
What are your beliefs on slipping tot the inside of a punch?

I have always been told that slipping to the inside can leave you inside your opponents "Zone" where he can still attack you. Where as if you slip to the outside, you are always at a position of advantage because you always end up at an angle that is away from any of your opponents attacks.

Your thoughts please! I am just curious.


Great question!

I used to train with this guy in tkd who had amazing distancing, timing, skill, power, etc. He's about 5'9 or 5'10, 160-170pds. I'm 5'11, 170-175pds. Even though I had the reach and size advantage, he was easily able to score on me at will (and with power). It was frustrating to feel that he was always JUST outside of my reach (I only remember hitting him ONCE with a clean shot in all the time we trained together) and yet I always felt like I was just within his reach (and I was, with his abilities). He wasn't just fast, he was incredibly good at reading his opponent's movements and intercepting them. He did this to everyone else too, so I didn't feel as bad :). He didn't have any particular tips for being so good, it was mostly just experience.

I went through the same experience when I was in Thailand and took privates with the instructor (Moo) at Jittis Gym in Bangkok. I'm bigger than he is but I could NEVER hit him and he hit me every time. It got to the point where I felt like I couldn't do ANYTHING, not even move forward. He would simply teep (push kick), cut kick, punch, knee or elbow anytime I attempted anything at all. I felt like a little kid against him. The other fighters were having a pretty good time at my expense watching me look like a fool going up against a guy so much smaller and being helpless. He was amazing. He had a LOT to teach me but in regards to closing the distance he didn't elaborate on that skill. Again, it came from experience.

There definitely are drills you can do to hone this skill to accelerate your proficiency in this regard. I'm at work now so I can't go into them right now but I'm sure others here can provide you with some good ones. If not, I'll post some later when I get the chance.


Thats what it thought, its a good way to get in and work the hooks and uppercuts. What I like to do is slip and side step to the outside then throw an uppercut under there arm before they have time to recover their guard and composure. It works quite well. Hooks are a little more difficult to pull off from this angle, but they are not impossible.

An interesting thing that has happened to me when I have tried to slip to the inside is I have had the back of my head grabbed by the punching hand and pulled into clinch range. I can usually roll out if it and follow with my own punches, but now and then, somebody manages to keep hold of my head.


ttt for a good question

Being 5'6", I'm smaller than almost everyone I spar against. As a result, I've a huge reach disadvantage. My advantages are that I can pull my moves off quickly and with weight.

I'm finding it very difficult to get into range where I can do my thing; all my opponent has to do is take a step back and I'm in trouble again being sniped at from distance?!

To close the gap, I flick a lead front kick to the leading knee before stepping right into my punching range. The problem with this is that I eat jabs, even if I circle slightly to the outside.

I sometimes just charge in very aggresively with flurries, but against experienced opponents am just get controlled using distancing.

Does anyone know any footwork exercises/drills to teach bridging gaps and range control?



The biggest mistake I see alot with of shorter fighters make is that they have this, how can I put it, hell for leather mentality. They just fire straight in and eat jabs etc. just like you just described.

Remember, at some point or another, we all face taller opponents! What I generally do to deal with this, and I would recomend is that you look at the same strategy, is to work on slipping punches and creating angles that your taller opponent will find it difficult to attack from.

For example, say your taller opponent comes in throwing straight punches, he throws a jab to your head, you slip to the outside and take a side step to the left to go with it. Now you are at an angle that your opponent cannot directly attack from. He first has to adjust his guard and move head on to you again. It is your job to make sure that he doesnt have the time to do that.

If you have done this right you will be ata 45 degree angle to him. There is no reall oportunity for him to launch an effective offense from this angle. However, you can utilize the majority of your Punching and Kicking arsenal.

Hope this helps,



beev is 100% correct. I was about to offer the same exact advice. You have to create an angle to work from before coming in on your opponent.

A good thing to do is practice circling your opponent, such that he is constantly forced to adjust his position to face you. Being smaller and faster, you're bound to catch him not adjusting fast enough, creating the opening you're looking for.

Also, as beev said, evasive head motion as you enter is another big consideration. If you try to close the gap with a straight kick, you need to move your head as you kick. Do you throw the kick with your support foot planted? My gym trains our fighters to skip into their opponent with the support leg while they kick. This aids in closing the gap but also making the kick harder.

I also like to teach my guys how to close the gap with a lunging jab. If you practice this, you can lunge in while simultaneously snapping out a sharp jab that is hard to react to. It'll take timing of course, but that comes with practice.

You may also want to concentrate on some counter-fighting techniques. The fighter with a longer reach still has to come in towards you to strike. Learn to evade or block while simultaneously countering the strike. A prime example of this is to practice slipping a straight punch and then following it back in. Or, you can slip the straight punch while closing the gap at the same exact time.

Good Luck

Khun Kao

Damn straight beev! Tall fuXXs!
I must admit, with stronger muscular types I'd stay away from the clinch and work in flurries. I also found heavier tall guys were pretty easy to hit with leg kicks (big target and too slow to block). Skinny types I'd jab my way in and work the clinch all I could.
I have to say the hardest time I ever had was when ever I sparred a 112lb guy my height (I'm 154lbs). But then he was the English Champion at his weight and had really heavy hands!

s475380 ,

Good info, it will do good to have 2 strategies, the one I and others reccomended as well as the method you just described. That way, you are always gonna keep your opponent guessing.

Side stepping and working angles has always worked well for me but I can see your method in my head and how it would work on taller opponents, particularly the skinny type right?


I'm 5'2! I always found laying off and trying to counter punch to be a mistake. I used to do it when I first started MT but only found this fed the confidence of my taller/heavier opponents and meant I got pushed around. I changed my strategy and became more aggressive always taking the fight to them. I found I actually ate less punches this way because it naturally put my opponent on the defensive. I didn't really use head movement, but tended to double jab my way in and use this to set up other punches/kicks. Also, especially against heavier opponents, I would use in and out tactics landing in flurries.

ttt.. i need

Wow!!! Many thanks for all your input here. Without doubt, I've got a lot to work on countering here.

Thanks again for sharing your perspectives.

A drill we have occasionally trained at our gym is what I have come to call the "Bitch slap" drill.

Basically, you throw a slap to your partners face, he/she has to defend it or be "Bitch Slapped". As you can imagine, this drill does not create much damage, but it does make you work hard.

just think, if you couldnt slip in time, your partner bitch slaps you!!! Obviously these are only open hand Jabs, crosses, hooks and uppercuts.