Robert Barton 

There is an extension of the subject of angling which helps us to deal with multiple opponent situations. Zoning is what we call this subject, and it enables us to maintain a position of advantage against more than one attacker and keep them in relative positions in which as few as possible are able to touch us at any given time.

From a practical standpoint you are able, through zoning, to keep one or two opponents in the way of the others and to one side of yourself. Your intention is always to only actually fight one person at any given moment, though you may have to fight several people in rapid succession. You are also able to, a certain extent, choose which opponent you will be in direct contact with and in what order you will deal with each attacker.

Your first type of zoning is known as direct zoning, and relies solely on your own movement in order to zone your opponents properly. In direct zoning, you use your skills at footwork and angling to move around your opponents. Your skills at angling were first applied against one opponent in order to position yourself so that you are attacking from the sides and back of an opponent. These same skills are used in direct zoning to keep one person between yourself and other opponents.

The simplest example of direct zoning may be seen below in Figures 1 & 2. As opponents A & B begin to attack you at position 1, you will make a rapid lateral movement to position 2 as demonstrated in figure (1). The result is seen in figure (2) where for a moment you are able to fight only opponent B while he is between yourself and opponent A.














Once A finds his immediate path to you blocked by B, as in figure (2), he will try to come around one side or the other of his partner to reach you. You will move around in the same relative direction as A always keeping B between you. As demonstrated in figure (3), if A moves toward position 1 you will move toward position 3, and if A moves toward position 3 you step toward position 1.







                In the next example we will look at how you may deal with several attackers and also demonstrate some of the more subtle aspects of zoning. Here, you are at position 1 and beset by several opponents who are attacking your position as seen in figure (4). Your first movement toward position 2 allows you to only be close enough to exchange blows with D, but by being slightly angled, you have a high probability that the other three opponents will try to get to you by coming counter-clockwise around the right side of D, which is still their shortest route to you. As they attempt to get around D, you move in the same direction to position 3, keeping D as the only opponent able to exchange blows and still between yourself and the other three opponents, as seen in figure (5).



                                                   A     B    C     D



                                                           Fig. 4









                                                         Fig. 5


Realistically, the situation exemplified in figure (5) will only last a moment. If they maintain their attack, they will do one of two things. If they all attempt to come around the same side of D you will move as demonstrated in figure (4) to whichever side needed in order to keep your actual contact limited to D.

                At same point in this movement series they are going to begin to move around both sides of D as seen in figure (6) where D continues to move toward 1 while C advances on the right and B & A advances to your left. Your response would be to move in whichever direction is the most tactically advantageous, in this instance a movement from position 1 to position 2 will still maintain contact with only one opponent  C and place him between yourself and his partners for a moment, as seen in figure (7). 


                                       2      \          / /

                                                \ D   / /

                                                  C / /

                                                  B /


                                                       Fig. 6



                                                       2  C     B


                                                           Fig. 7


At this point, you would just continue to flank opponents and move to the strongest tactical position for as long as the confrontation lasted, and eliminating opponents as you go.

The next area of application is called manipulative zoning in which we push, pull, and throw opponents into one another, endeavoring to cause them to collide one with another and trip, fall and just get generally confused. A forceful, explosive attack can often drive an opponent into his partners as seen in figure (8). You have zoned your opponents to the same side of you and you will from position 1 drive A into B with either a forceful attack or a solid push. 


                                                      Fig. 8


In figure 9, we see how our zoning skills can be pushed to a very intense level. You are at position 1and surrounded by eight opponents. You move at an angle from position 1 to position 2 almost directly at H who you will shove throw of pull into the center towards position 1. Then you will move to position 3 where you have all of your opponents on one side of you with only G within reach, you may then start a strong attack on G which may actually take him out of the fight. As your opponents begin to move toward you, they are all coming from the same side and you can use your zoning skills to constantly flank them so that they do not again get you surrounded. 



                                             D                  1              E                                                                


                                                  F           /  ^           G

                                                              /   ^

                                                             /    H




                Zoning should be practiced in the school first by two training partners trying to touch a third by moving slowly just trying to touch the target person with their hand. By practicing slowly all stress is removed and the zoning skills can become patterned habits of tactical movement. As the student improves the number of opponents is increased until several opponents can be dealt with at the current speed.

The speed of the exercise is then slightly increased, again starting with two opponents and adding more opponents as skill improves. Each increase in speed is accompanied by a return to only two partners and a slow increase in the number of people being dealt with. The intention is to cause the proper tactical movements to become habit that is performed without a conscious choice being made. Eventually the student will be able to deal with several opponents at full speed in free play. 

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