In a hypothetical situation where you can only choose one advantage over your opponent, would it be strength or speed?
No matter what natural or trained advantages you have in a fight, there will always be someone who is better prepared, better trained and better equipped. In certain situations, we may assess we have a type of advantage but we should never take it for granted. Instead, we’ll work out how each can play a pivotal role in turning the tide of a fight.
The Role of Strength
Strength is a bit of a vague term — as is speed — so we’ll try to break it down into a couple key caveats:
Core muscle strength – This is the ability to use your core muscle groups. A person with a very strong core may not appear to be overly muscular or particularly threatening but he has the keen capacity to use his muscles efficiently and maintain balance.
Trained hypertrophy strength – This is the sort of strength derived from weight training. Major muscle groups are targeted and worked until exhaustion with a rigorous routine of rest, regeneration, and repetition. There are power lifters who can haul enormous weight at a single go and then there are bodybuilders who prioritize physique and appearance over function or form.
Natural raw strength – This may be the product of a lifetime spent working under the hot sun or just a natural propensity for endurance.
Someone who has strength as their natural advantage may not have all three but he is certainly someone who you don’t want to take too many direct hits from. If this epitomizes what you perceive to be your natural advantage, you know that it’s not the number of strikes you throw, it’s the number of hits that connect.
Advantages of Strength
- More damage inflicted with strikes
- Enduring repeated strikes
- Raw grappling and close quarters
Disadvantages of Strength
- When divorced from endurance, a strong man will wear down over time.
- Strength can sometimes come at the sacrifice of speed or aerobic endurance.
- Perceived advantage when entering into a fight.
How Speed Can Win A Fight
Those who have naturally fast reflexes and aerobic endurance, fights can take on a new form. Instead of trying to end a fight quickly with a couple well placed strikes or holds, someone fighting a naturally fast fighter is going to constantly need to be on the look-out for surprises.
Advantages of Speed
- A better ability to roll with the punches
- Not going to be worn down as easily in a fight
- Can move past some defensive postures
- Can turn what appears to be a disadvantage into an advantage
- Can escape and outrun opponents if given the opportunity
- May be able to outlast opponent
Disadvantages of Speed
- Speed divorced from any strength may result in less damage inflicted with superficial strikes.
- Without any natural strength, a fast fighter may get wrapped up by a stronger one in close quarters combat.
In a situation where escape is not a clear option, someone who is fast needs to prioritize keeping his distance from his attacker. Where reach is to his advantage, using strikes to stun or divert an opponent’s energy is a good way to wear him out. A fast fighter can become a matador in the ring while a strong fighter may very well wind up the bull.