Attack Ranges: Speed and Distance

What do I mean by close, medium and long range? You have often heard me talk about this subject indirectly. Each of those ranges can also be described by reach: elbow, fist, and foot. Therefore, close range means the elbow is in play. Medium range means the hands are in play and long range means the feet are in play.

Striking ranges
Striking ranges

How does this affect speed?

  1. You are fastest when in the optimal range for the strike.
  2. Too close, or you can’t reach? This nullifies or diminishes your attack.
  3. Too far? The defender can defeat your power arc.

How does this affect distance?

  1. Distance determines optimal strike method.
  2. Move to place others in line of optimal attack.
  3. Know you enemy’s range and stay out of it.

If you are too close to attack, you must adjust. Maintain these distances and know which one you’re in during each technique. Review your material to study the transitions from close to medium to long range. You’ll notice the attacks executed from each range vary, but are appropriate.

Adjust your footwork to complement zones and ranges. Don’t neglect checking ranges and jamming.

The Strike
You generate speed in the jam zone in order to contact in the impact zone. Never plan to contact beyond the impact zone or else you’ll have an expended strike with limited power. This is the commonly referred to as “punching through the target”.

Punching effectiveness zone chart
Punching effectiveness zone chart

Speed and distance are interrelated. A fast strike is useless if you can’t hit the target. Proper and effective distance is useless if you strike slowly or without intent.

Investigate for yourself these issues, internalize them and understand the ranges at a fundamental level. It may open your eyes to how things work.


  • Bryan Bagnas

    Grandmaster and Founder of Golden Leopard Kempo Martial Arts School, teaching Philippine Combatives, Karazenpo Go Shinjutsu, Kickboxing, Hawaiian Shaolin Kempo, and Self-Defense to San Diego students for over three decades.