In a fight, how do you know when to get out of the pocket (out of range)?

In JKD we practice distance and bridging the gap from 3 ranges…

  1. Kicking Range
  2. Striking Range
  3. Trapping and Grappling

To your questions, from personal experience, the ‘when to get out’ applies to all 3 ranges. Defensive and Offensively it depends on a number of factors and especially your opponent.

For instance, if my opponent is a kicker and mostly stays on the outside… I will bridge the gap and crowd him every chance I get, with different attacks in the other two ranges (Striking and Trapping) because I know he will need distance to kick.

Control the timing and fight your fight. Do not let your opponent dictate the timing, distanct and rhythm of the fight.

Of course, if you have advantage in whatever range you are in do not back out. Finish your opponent. In reality, if you have advantage while attacking, you should keep attacking and dispose of your attacker. Then get out to run away and get to safety.

My two cents.

I’ve carried a really similar mentality to yours regarding the pocket. While conventional teaching says close the distance, throw your combo, and move back out of range – repeat, why move back out if you’re continuing to deal damage with little or no repercussion, just sitting in the pocket and throwing/exchanging? I have a sparring partner that really seems to lock this approach down, he closes the distance… then just never backs off until you force him to. He will move in and throw a massive continuous chain combo until you manage to counter or create distance.

This seems to be a very workable (even highly effective) approach at amateur to intermediate levels if you are physically dominant. That being said, there is a reason it’s taught to get in and get out. As you and your opponents become more and more technical, it becomes all about counterpunching, and if you try to throw a combo from the pocket and then continue to stand in against a really solid, technical counterpuncher, you’re going to get destroyed. Best to get in the short combo and then be moving out of range as your opponent begins to respond.

Sitting in the pocket and blowing up your opponents might work now, and it might work really well, but you have to realize that as things get more advanced, it’s not “good boxing” in a technical sense, and you’re going to have to adjust. That’s not saying you shouldn’t do it… if it feels natural and it’s working for you right now, it’s probably a good idea to feel it out and let that strategy run its course; see where it gets you and learn from it.

These kinds of tactics are all about sensing and feeling. They take time and practice with your sparring (kumite). Im a smaller dude and i discovered my kumite success improved greatly when i stopped retreatimg so much and stood my ground. A lot of times retreating will get u overwhelmed by an attacking aggressive opponent. Instead, try circling, sidestepping and then ground yourself. Jamb with the knee if required to stop the opponent from trying to advance on you.

The key to your statement is “as long as I’m able to deal more and enough more damage than I am taking” but it lacks completeness.

What’s missing is that you want to just be taking LESS damage, but taking little enough that you aren’t going to suffer unduly for it.

  • You might get hit with a lucky shot or otherwise take unsustainable damage
  • With weapons (e.g., knives) involved you usually don’t want to take significant knife cuts even if you are “winning”. It’s not a win if you defeat the attack then die yourself — or even if you must go for serious surgery.
  • Multiple attackers — you might be doing ok against one attacker but is this “lesser damage” going to add up as you deal with other attackers

Also I wonder about that “for [your] size” portion: I have VERY long arms for my height so boxers who spar with me are continuously shocked to find how far away I am when hitting them.

Oddly this helps me even when people are used to fighting larger opponents — psychologically they just can’t quickly adapt to the disparity between their expectations and what is actually hitting them.

Therefore when helping other boxers or those studying self-defense, I spend a significant amount of effort teaching people to GET OUT OF *MY* pocket when they are unable to hit me from there.

It’s one thing to be doing more damage as you say, and quite another to be getting hit when you cannot hit back effectively.

Finally, my last boxing coach was determined to smarten up my style of just moving in and doing more damage — he required me to do more angular work, and use other avoidance techniques like ducking, weaving, dodging etc.

I found this was quite a lot of fun — I could still follow my natural instincts to press but also could frustrate my opponent quite a bit by being nearly unhittable.

Hit and run. Get in, do your your damage, get out. Maybe you will be able to do more damage by staying inside, but maybe you won’t. Just because you can get a hit in doesn’t mean you should let your opponent get to hit you as well. Between the choice of hitting and not getting hit, or hitting and getting hit, which is the better option?

Get out before the opponent can catch you with anything. If you’re smaller, you don’t want to be caught in the corner and not be able to get away, so get out before you are trapped.

Of course that’s not always your best option, always moving back out of range. If you’re up against someone with much longer reach than you, and they use it, you want to stay inside a bit more, because stepping out allows them to hit you and you can’t hit them. You can still fight evasively, dodging strikes, but stay inside their reach because once outside of it you have a lot less offensive options.

In multiple sparring you do not want to be in the pocket at all. You risk being trapped and you don’t want to take any hits. You need to keep one opponent between you and the other(s). Then you fight only one person. You don’t stop to fight that person but grab, push, strike and move. You may end up with a second opponent in front of you and do the same, but you stay mobile and take whatever strikes you can get. Then, get out.