View Full Version : Looking for advice on developing "combinations" for sparring.

02-03-2001, 09:02 PM
Hello all, After having trained in my current art, Northern Shaolin, for just over a year now, I have reached the rank where I begin sparring. Currently my foundation consists of all the basic blocks, punches, kicks, and sweeps. I have been working diligently to pull combinations from the few forms I have learned thus far. I am looking for any advice you may have on developing kicking and punching combinations. I'm not looking for anything fancy. What have you found that works? Do you have a favorite? Are there basic guidelines to follow when developing combos? Thanks in advance. KER

02-06-2001, 06:41 PM
Northern Shaolin stylist??? I have spar some of you guys...most of the time you guys would throw a 3 tech. combo...look up the JKD KICKBOXING book at BARNES and NOBLES...they seem to have descent combo attacks for you.


02-06-2001, 08:56 PM
It has been my experience that 'combinations' are elementary skills. They do assist one in combining movements together in specific cadence, besides the nasty one punch then kick then punch again combination. But that is what fist patterns are for. If you are sparring, I am assuming you learned all if not some of a pattern. Look towards your own style's workings for the answer to your question.

Once a person moves beyond combinations, sparring takes on a more dynamic role in training. If you drill your pattern work over and over (as most schools do) and fail to incorporate movements from the patterns into your sparring, then what is it you are practising when sparring? There is 1st level information that leads to 2nd level and so forth.

I would suggest you work on a slower 2-person drill where you can feel your opponents movements as compared to yours..while incorporating moves from your patterns.

Train hard, but smart.

02-06-2001, 11:13 PM
LEGEND & NOSPAM, Thanks for your input :)

02-07-2001, 12:19 AM
It all depends on what tech. you favor. You have you jab, cross $ jab, cross, hook, boxing combo's. I like to throw a right leg kick, followed by a right sun punch, left hook punch, right heel kick you shin and step out for a right hook punch (side angle). The biggest thing is you have to set up your tech. for each other. If you want to hit high, start low and vice versa. Try new combo's on a heavy bag or thia pads first to see what works and what does not. Plus each person you spar will be differnt so you have to change each combo for each person.

02-08-2001, 02:08 AM
NHBFighter, Thanks for the post. Especially like the concept of starting low to get high and vis versa. Hadn't heard or thought of that before. Thanks. KER

02-08-2001, 12:48 PM
KER, I'm a Northern Shaolin stylist myself.

From beginning to end, your fighting sets are chock full of combos.

For example, take Lien Bu Chuan (Lin Bo Kin). Notice how the opening "Immortal Flicks Clothes" motion prepares you for the "Yin Yang Hands Facing Each Other" move?

That set of motions can be interpreted as a gathering of one's energy for an inwards block using either forearm.

If you continue on the the next move (Grabbing Hand, Palm Chop), you have a whole new avenue of possibilities.

I often use the previous moves with this one to ride over the guard and then go for the takedown.

02-08-2001, 09:43 PM
HuangKaiVun, Thanks for the advice. This may sound naive, but I hadn't thought out the individual sparring applications of every movement in the forms. You gave perfect examples. I need to dig deeper. I think I should work more on seperating out each movement and working on its application in different circumstances. Thanks again. KER

02-09-2001, 03:46 PM
The one basic guideline I follow when developing my own moves is that it should work against a violently resisting opponent.

Mind you, I have no formal NS sifu. I study from Kwong Wing Lam's superb tapes, so I have to come up with applications on my own.

Also keep in mind that NS is entirely capable of grappling and groundfighting. I think that MY NS is more geared toward those ends than straight striking, as I lack the mass and reach to outgun opponents.

I use that "Yin-Yang Facing Hands" technique as either a choke or arm bar, and I'll also use that "Grabbing Hand Palm Chop" to attack opponents when I'm on my back and they're in the mounted position.

In sparring, I often end up in this position because I can't apply my dirty techniques to prevent opponents from using their superior size and length to get me in this position of their choice.

Nor do I have the mass to prevent somebody from throwing me off the mount, which is why I tend not to favor this position.

02-12-2001, 12:08 PM
HuangKaiVun Gave you a great way to build combinations. I wil give you a way that has worked exceptionally for me.

Study the natural movements of the body when hit. No matter how strong someone is or how well they can take a hit their body will react in the same maner. Its just a matter of how large the movement will be.
Now every hit will cause a body to move in a certain direction, or if blocked, they must do it in a certain way to make it effective. When this happens there will be an opening somewhere else.

Every move creates an opening in some fasion. I'll give a very simplified example. Your first shot is a kick to the stomache/groin. This will bring his head forward and down. As your foot plants back on the ground as you bring your front hand downt and you bring your back hand in with a downward hammerfist/claw/heelpalm driving his head down furthure then come back up with an uppercut. Now if the kick is blocked (this drops his back hand) simply change to a front hand jab (bringing his front arm out to block or at least attemt to) to a back hand strait punch or something along those lines because hey, his head is now wide open. Thats obviously an oversimplified example but you can at least see where I am going with it.

Assumption is the mother of tragedy. Just keep and open mind, be ready, and go full force.

02-12-2001, 11:52 PM
One of the biggest hurdles in heavy contact sparring is combination striking. You hit the guy once and retreat for fear of retaliation. That's one reason that people should be seasoned in two man drills before they start full contact.

The issue is commitment. Making the combination itself is easy. I'm sure you already have dozens of them. Jab, cross, front or roundhouse kick. There you go, most often seen kickboxing combo. Anyone can pull it off.
So next time you see an openning, throw the combo, not just one strike. Even if you get hit, even if you aren't it the best position, it will get you used to the idea throwing the combo.


If you pr!ck us, do we not bleed? If you poison us, do we not die? And if you wrong us, shall we not revenge? If we are like you in the rest, we will resemble you in that the villany you teach me, I will execute, and it shall go hard but I will better the instruction. MOV

02-13-2001, 02:19 PM
Northern Shaolin teaches about how to respond to contact.

That doesn't just mean creating openings as Tigerdragon wrote, it also means knowing when to rebound off opponents and also when to go THROUGH them.

This is what momentum changes in Northern Shaolin are all about.

02-13-2001, 08:45 PM

You hit on an excellent point about sparring.

There are as many combinations out there as there are people sparring. Find what techniques work best for you, then string them together, changing the order. "March" up and down the floor with this and your "solo-combinations" will be in working order. This combination might work for your opening volley. But, once you get into counter-attacks, combinations then have to come from understanding what the techniques are for, where they strike best, and from experience of just plain reacting.


Surrender yourself to nature and be all that you are.

02-14-2001, 06:49 AM
You aslo have to consider if you are sparring stand up or also using ground also. Being a wrestler before I started learning mantis, many of my combo's lead into a takedown and throw. Spar with many differnt people in both stand up and ground that way you can see what combo's leave you open for a takedown or throw. Then you can develop new combo's to counter attack those takedowns and throws. The best thing is use to do it, but go at the pace that servres you best.

"Pain is temporary, glory is forever"

02-15-2001, 06:36 AM
No, glory is temporary, pain is forever.

Stick to those sets, KER.

02-15-2001, 08:07 AM
You must practice your punches and kicks everyday and start to mix them together.

I don't have a signature because I have no pen to write it.

03-02-2001, 09:48 AM
Hmm...combinations of course will vary greatly based on individual style of course. Having experience in northern and southern shaolin as well, I would have to say that the forms provide a very good way of flowing between techniques, but keep in mind that that the form is not meant to be one continuous fight.

Simply put, what flows together in the form, wont necessarily flow in the real fighting. As many different scenarios are presented in a form without a break in between.

I know you probably dont want to hear this, but start brainstorming on your own within your own fighting abilities to find what youre looking for. If you simply copy other peoples combinations, they wont be yours will they? there are of course universal ones that just about everyone does or can do, as there are only so many ways one can make the body move...but you get what Im saying Im sure.

What I do when I spar, is based on my reaction to the opponent. I dont think up things while Im fighting, but rather work off what the opponent is giving me and go from there. Its spontaneous commited action that will bring you to success. At least thats been my experience anyway.

Hope this longwinded post helped you!

03-02-2001, 01:13 PM
When you get to higher levels of fighting; combinations are a matter of flow. You will not be thinking "punch....grab....kick", it will be more that instinct will take note of the expanding and contracting of the opponent. Your technique will be determined by your body's muscle memory instead of mental memory. By this time your body already knows it's basic techniques. It will not have to think about how to do something, it will just do it. Your body is better at making instinct judgements, if your mind lets it. It already has a blueprint to work off of. Your eye will see the pattern and your body will feel it. Thinking only breaks up this process. If you have time to think at all, it should be about the more overall stratagies like "which way is the exit" or "what can I use as a weapon". It sort of like saying that your mind is "along for the ride". Capt. Kirk is giving orders but Mr Sulu is doing the actual driving

Its dangerous to think you are immortal.

03-02-2001, 04:18 PM
Spoken like a MASTER, SifuAbel.

Indeed, after a while kung fu becomes completely spontaneous. I liken it to a stream of water flowing downhill - it flows around or through obstacles.

Let me ask you, SifuAbel: do you still surprise yourself with the moves that come out of you, or have you settled into a pattern of spontaneity?

I am still in the "surprise" mode, as I haven't been training for very long and realized the ability to invent my own moves against resisting opponents only about 2 years ago.

I have a feeling that I'll settle into myself after a while.

03-02-2001, 07:49 PM
Ah Huang you're making me blush.

I'm not surprised anymore by the different movements that pop up in the consequence of action. Intrigue is more like it. The "aha!!!" of the moment. The evil smile at new knowledge. Once you accept the no mind of it, you set yourself free to explore every angle possible just to see what your body will teach you. How just the subtlest change in direction or focus changes the technique. Even your every mood changes your response to the same situation. At this point the patterns of forms become more fragmented and flow with greater ease. Ultimately, until there is no pattern to speak of. It's the difference between the person learning a language and the person who can speak impromptu to a crowd about anything.

Its dangerous to think you are immortal.

03-04-2001, 02:20 AM
Thanks for the reply, SifuAbel.

I'd like to come full circle and thus ask you if you also believe that form training is the ultimate way to train how to fight at a high level.

In my experience, doing forms helps work on that "spontaneous reaction" like nothing else does.

When I do sets nowadays, I don't think of "applications" or "fighting" anymore. I don't even think in terms of energy.

I just do my sets.

03-04-2001, 02:35 AM
Form training is needed in order to learn the concepts and rudiments of the style. Form work is the tool box. A good carpenter already knows how to use his hammer. But, if he doesn't have one in his tool box, he can't drive the nail. Sets also force you to move in a precise way, so when you fight you move with precision.

Its dangerous to think you are immortal.

03-23-2001, 05:49 AM
Thank you all for the wonderful replies and insight. I apologize for the belated thanks, but have been out of the country. My initial question was designed to elicit specific combinations I could use and develop, but after reading your responses, I realized I had been looking at the issue of developing combinations in the wrong way. Maybe I was subconsciously looking for a short cut, but I now realize that the best way to develop the combinations that will work for me is through expirimentation, hard training, and more sparring. Sounds so simple in hindsight. I now also have a better understanding of going with the flow and being responsive to what my opponent is dishing out, as opposed to having a specific gameplan and trying to stick with it. Your suggestions combined with an additional couple of months of sparring have helped tremendously. Thank you all again. KE

03-28-2001, 12:00 AM
Ker...I'm from NOVA...where do u train...I can invite you to an open class...my friends have similar problem...its just practice and reaction drills...


04-03-2001, 07:47 PM
Legend, I train at the Chinese Martial Arts Institute in Vienna, somewhat near Rt 29 and Gallows. You?