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Helpful Head Movement Drills for Self Defense

There’s a saying in the martial world that says, “Either you move your head or he’s gonna move it for you.”

Effective head movement is used to avoid oncoming attacks and also to set up strong counter moves. It can quickly turn the tide in a professional fight or in a situation where self-defense is required.

Taking the time to practice proper head movement drills is a great way to improve your ability to make your opponents miss more often.

Getting Ready with Your Stance

Before you can move your head and body to avoid punches and kicks, you need to make sure you are in the correct stance.

In this case, the stance we suggest is as follows:

  • Your front toe should be aligned with your back heel
  • Knees should be slightly bent
  • Arms should be pinched close to the body
  • Your lead hand is slightly down
  • Backhand is either next to the cheek or in front of your face

Quick Head Movement Tips to Get You Started

The way you move your head will almost always depend on what your opponent is doing. Whether they are coming toward you with an attack or they are trying a counter of their own, you’ll need to pay close attention to know when to use the appropriate types of head movement.

Using head movement to avoid getting it

But as we all know, it’s impossible to guess what the person you’re fighting will do next. So one of the first techniques for head movement is to simply push back from the opponent. There are three possible ways to do this:

  1. Keep feet planted: If it looks like your opponent is throwing a shallow punch like a jab or a cross, you can keep your feet right where they are and move your head back by leaning your upper body away from the attack.
  2. Move your back foot: In a similar situation to above, you can also take a step back with your rear foot while still leaning your head and body back to avoid the shot.
  3. Move both feet: When an attacker is taking a deep shot that includes a step forward, it’s best to move both feet in a backward motion away from the punch. This still includes tilting your head back.

You can also add a shift or a drop step here and there to avoid remaining stationary for too long.

One more tip for your head movement training is to breathe properly with each adjustment. With each drill, you need to take a small breath in before moving to the next step.

For example, if you duck, breathe in. If you slip, breathe in. If you push back, breathe in. The same goes for rolling and other head movements. This makes it easier for you to breathe out and get more power when you counter with a punch or another attack.

Basic Head Movement Drills to Practice

There are plenty of ways to move your head away from attacks that will work in a handful of various scenarios. As you integrate the best head movement drills into your training, you’ll be a more efficient martial artist and have a stronger ability to defend yourself.

Practicing head movement drills while shadow boxing.

Full Push Back

Regardless of the attack, one of the easiest types of head movement is to simply step away from your opponent with both feet using a full push back (or push shuffle back).

  • Have a training partner use a straight punch with either hand.
  • Step back with your rear foot.
  • Slide your front foot back at the same time.
  • Lean your head back slightly.

Repeat this head movement technique as many times as you’d like with multiple attacks like uppercuts, jabs, hooks, crosses, etc.

Half Push Back

This is a variation of the full push back where only the back foot moves, followed by a counter-attack.

  • Your partner throws a straight punch.
  • Half-step back with your rear foot.
  • Lean your head back slightly to make them miss only a little bit.
  • Counter with a quick hook punch or front jab.

Slip then Hit

Another great head movement drill is known as the slip. While this move can be a bit riskier, it can have the potential for a greater reward when it comes to following up with a strong counter-attack.

  • Your partner throws a straight punch.
  • Turn your back foot slightly, keeping your eyes on your opponent.
  • Move your head, body, and shoulders down to the side away from the attack.
  • Counter with a front hook after your step.

Slip and Hit at the Same Time

The better way to use the slip head movement is to hit your opponent at the same time.

  • Your partner throws a straight punch.
  • Turn your back foot slightly, keeping your eyes on your opponent.
  • Move your head, body, and shoulders down to the side away from the attack.
  • Counter with a rear hand hook at the same time.
  • Optional: Throw a front hand hook as you’re standing back up to your full stance.

Bob and Weave

One of the most effective types of head movement is the bob and weave, which is where you duck and swing your body underneath the opponent’s attack. This will open you up to use a hook or another quick punch.

Check out our bob and weave tutorial video for a clear idea of how to do use this tactic.

Want to learn more about Head Movement?

Proper head movement can make the difference in a fight, often leading to knockouts and other opportunities for strong counters.

If you want to improve your head movement technique, check out this full online class on the topic! Or come into one of our four NY Martial Arts Academy locations and take a class in person!

 

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