How to Fight a Counter-Fighter

Hey gang...

I just recently received an email from a reader asking about how to successfully deal with a counter-fighter, someone who simply stands and waits for you to come in, then blocks, intercepts, and counter attacks.

I am posting the question and my response below, but I thought this would be a good discussion for all of us to get in on. I've posted my two favorite methods of dealing with the situation, but lets hear some more, or if you have any variations on what I've outlined...

"How to you fight someone that just stands there and waits for you to com in and they just counter attack?"

In my opinion, this is one of the most difficult fighting styles to successfully deal with. I know, because I usually fight this way myself. I like to wait for my opponent to come to me, and as they move into range, I start letting the bombs fly. I have found that there are two distinct ways to beat a counterfighter.

1.BE A COUNTER-FIGHTER, ALSO. This is hard to accomplish, but can make for some of the most exciting fights. You have to feel out the range that you and your opponent will fight at and stay there. The whole fight will turn into a chess match. Lots of feinting to draw your opponent into committing to an attack that you can take advantage of. Typically, you would want to take up a position at just inside kicking range to your opponent.

If you have ever had an opportunity to watch live Muay Thai matches from Thailand, you will see lots of fights occurring at this range. The fighters stay just inside each others kick range and play a game of cat-n-mouse with each other, looking to get in a scoring shot.

As I mentioned, the trick here is to not commit to attacks until you're sure the opening is there. Use lots of lead leg push kicks and round kicks to keep your opponent off-balance. Use quick, light jabs to keep your opponents attention. Throw the occasional cross for good measure. Use these techniques to "feel" your opponent out. See how they are reacting so that you can choose a committed shot that should score.


2.STICK-N-MOVE. This is the fighting style that just gives me fits! The trick is this, CONSTANTLY circle your opponent. The only time you should stop circling is when you close to launch an attack. When you close to launch your attack, only strike with a short flurry, then GET OUT OF THERE and start circling again. What you are doing is forcing your opponent to contantly adjust to your angle of attack. When your opponent makes a mistake and doesn't adjust fast enough, that's when you step in with your attack. Drop a combination on your opponent, then circle back out and start dancing around again.

You have to be in SUPERIOR physical condition for this style of attack. You have to be able to move explosively when switching between circling and attacking, then back to circling again. I would recommend looking into plyometric exercises for this explosiveness. Also, remember that while you circle to use the Jab, Push Kick, and short, fast Round Kicks to help set up your combinations. Again, plyometric drills will help you to use these attacks as effective setups as you circle around your opponent.

As an example, lets say you are circling around your opponent to your left. This is forcing your opponent to keep turning to their right side. You want to keep the Jab pumping to keep their attention up. While they are dealing with the Jab in their face, you have sidestepped and have a slight angle advantage on your opponents right side, which may give you an opening to use a right leg roundhouse kick across their middle followed by a left hook over their right shoulder to their jaw.

These are the two styles of fighting that I would use to counter a counterfighter. Personally, I prefer option #1, as I really enjoy the "chess match" quality to that style of fighting, but there are a lot of intangibles to making it succeed. You have to have a very solid defense and a good sense of rhythm and timing. Even if you have those three bases covered, if your opponent does not it can still make for a very sloppy fight.

As a counterfighter, method #2 is the one I hate to fight against. If you become good at this, you can completely force a counterfighter out of their game. This will completely frustrate them which is liable to make them make mistakes which you can capitalize on.

Ultimately, you should take what I have to say with a grain of salt. Print this email out and discuss it with your coach or trainer, as they know you and your abilities best. They may agree with what I say, or they may have an alternate solution which will fit you and your fighting style better.

Khun Kao

I think it is best to stick and move

I think so, too. But I prefer playing cat-n-mouse. Its more fun and not as exhausting.


Khun Kao

I agree with the stick and move, but I would add... varied combinations that start the same but end different.

If you take the same kick every time you start a certain combo, start a combo the same way getting ready to attack the base leg of the kick.

Whomever does not adapt the quickest takes the most shots.

I find it bet to work a split style, you lure with on type of strike (your weakest), then when he counters, you counter back.

This has the advantages of not only showing the judges that you are constantly on the offensive, but also keeps your opponent off guard, wondering if you're going for him or simply feinting.

I prefer to mix them.

Being able to stick and move AND counter effectively makes you difficult to deal with.

Khun Kao, thanks for the great info. I have a few questions regarding movement. How exactly do you use movement when you add the element of watching out for your opponents kicks? I can understand using the strategy of sticking and moving along with circling but when kicking is included doesn't it make circling a little hard to pull off?


Actually, not really. When you are using a "stick-n-move" strategy, you ideally want to keep yourself positioned right near the end of your opponents reach... either just inside or just outside that reach.

Example, if you are circling to your left, and your opponent attempts a right-leg roundkick to your leg, its very simple to take a 1/2 step back as you continue to circle to make the kick miss.

This is why I recommend plyometric training for explosive movement. If you are circling your opponent just outside his reach, you have to be able to change direction FAST to take advantage of any momentary lapses on his or her part.

Basically, you have a lot of different options while circling your opponent. Let's use the above example where you are just at the end of your opponents reach, and circling to your left. Again, your opponent attempts a right-leg roundhouse kick. You now have a number of choices:

1- you can continue to circle to your left. Simply take a 1/2 step back so that your arc widens and the kick misses. This should now put you in a PREMIUM attack angle to your opponents right on his outside.

2- you can change direction and circle to your right. This will will throw your opponent off and kill his momentum, making adjustment difficult. You can then step straight in and attack with an open shot at his center torso and face.

3- you can simply stop and take a 1/2 step back to make your opponent miss. Depending on how much your opponent has committed to his attack will determine what your response to this will be.

4- you can come right in on him with an attack of your own. A Jab-Cross combo or a Push Kick are two excellent attacks to counter the Roundhouse Kick.

This is why I recommend plyometric drills. They help you change direction explosively so that you can avoid an attack and counter at the same time, keeping your technique intact.

Khun Kao

I do believe it is one for the archives!


Khun Kao, thanks so much for the great advice. Definitely save this thread in the archives section.

The book: "Fighting Strategies of Muay Thai" has strategies of the four types of fighter: Counter, Elusive, Aggressive, Tricky. I'm adding a little excerpt from the Counterfighter section of the book:

Waiting is the hallmark of the counter fighter. Their strategy is built around defensive positioning. They wait for opportunities and then strike with accuracy. His pace is even and his mind is always working. Counter fighters gauge distance and observe the angle of approach and techniques favored by their opponents. Counter fighters steal their opponents strength while conserving their own. As slick as they are, counter fighters do have a weakness or two. Since they are very calculating it is possible to confuse them by simply not giving them what they expect. Establishing a pattern and then abruptly breaking it can accomplish this. It is very difficult to counterattack effectively unless there is a pattern to predict. In other words, if they are not attacked in predictable ways, counter fighters cannot mount a reliable counterstategy. A combination of elusive, tricky and aggressive fighting styles works best to defeat a pure counter fighter. Broken rhythms, fakes and unpredictable attacks can mess up his game. Fakes make him waste energy and force him to recalculate. He can be controlled if he is made to react to the strategic use of elusive raids, tricky body language and timed aggressive attacks. It is critical to mix ranges of attack and vary pacing between fast and slow, weak and strong, aggressive and passive. Cause the counter fighter to lose his counterattack accuracy by breaking his rhythm and confusing his plan.

Hm, that sounds exactly like what my trainer does to me.


Khun Kao and 2ez thanks for the great info, i will try to practice for tomorrow.