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Thursday, November 24, 2011

DEFENCE SKILLS


Preliminary preparation for defence

In an earlier chapter we have discussed the contest between chasers and defenders in the game of khokho. We have seen rules that constrain chasers, viz. rules of directions, requirements of ideal kho, etc. Another important rule prohibits chaser to cross the central lane. The game of defence is mainly designed to take advantage of these bindings of the rules to chasers. A simple logic of defenders is 'be always in the opposite court to the one that the attacker occupies'. Since the attacker can not cross the central lane, he is forced to go round the pole to catch a defender or give a kho to a sitting chaser facing opposite court to the one attacker belongs.

The second rule of thumb is that 'stay away from an attacker'. If the game happens to be in the central part of the ground, the second option of giving kho is suitable for an attacker. On execution of such a kho, the attacker and the defender come in the same court for a brief period of time. As per the guidelines stated above, a defender changes the court and runs towards a pole in chosen direction. The attacker reacts by giving a kho to a suitable sitting chaser and so on. Thus the game continues. A few convenient ways and locations of changing the court and forming routes towards the pole have emerged from the experience, observations and thinking of khokho players over a period of several decades which have now acquired a status of a tradition. The thinking behind these acts and its suitability is explained below.

When an attacker and defender happen to be in the same court, the defender changes the court. A tip for changing the court is that the defender should cross the central lane from behind the sitting chaser so that if the concerned sitting chaser gets a kho, the defender will find himself away from a new attacker by a distance between the two consecutive cross lanes. On the other hand, if a defender crosses the central lane from the front side of sitting chaser; he will find himself in front of or near the subsequent sitting chaser who is suitably positioned to get the next kho. Such proximity may make the defender to surrender a point to the chasing team. The following picture makes the idea clear.



Another tip to a defender is that when he crosses the central lane, he needs to watch the attacker's actions. The best location to watch an attacker is near the back of the very next sitting chaser after crossing the central lane. This would enable a defender to know whether an attacker is giving a hind kho or a forward kho. The defender needs to know it in order to decide his further course of action. While watching a kho, a defender needs to take care that the attacker does not touch him from the opposite court.

A defender needs to take a pause/stop in his run towards a pole and see the choice of 'kho' (hind-kho or forward kho) made by an attacker. In case, a hind kho is given by an attacker, the defender needs to accelerate his run towards the pole in the earlier chosen direction as the attacker and defender are in the same court. In case, a forward kho is given by an attacker, the defender would change his running direction opposite to the original one, towards the other pole. The defender, subsequently, would change the court at a suitable part of the ground.

If a defender is running fast while crossing the court, it becomes difficult for him to stop and take a pause near the back of the subsequent sitting chaser after crossing the central lane. In case he can not control his speed, he goes beyond the back of nearest sitting chaser, then he may become an easy victim to the next sitting chaser as he would be facing the court to which the defender belongs. A lesson to learn from this is that running fast can be disadvantageous to a defender on certain occasions in khokho. A tip, therefore, is that defenders need to run with a full control over a speed and a directional movement.

In summary, the basic guide-lines for a beginner of defence in khokho are
  1. Defender tries to be in the opposite court to the one wherefrom the attacker chases.
  2. For changing the court, defender crosses the central lane from behind the sitting chaser.
  3. Immediately after crossing the central lane, a defender takes a pause at the back of the next sitting chaser and watches the actions of an attacker.
  4. A defender decides his course of action depending on the action taken by an attacker.
  5. A defender should learn to run with a controlled speed and directional movements.
  6. The defenders in a batch, other than the one being chased by opponents, also take positions behind the sitting chaser, preferably forth defender from each pole and at a distance of two third width of the court from central lane.


Earlier it is mentioned that a defender is partially trapped at the pole. A defender is always vulnerable at the pole unless he develops the skill to overcome such trapping. How to get out of partial trap at the pole? This is a very crucial question because once the defender escapes from this trap, khokho structure is in defender's favour to play long innings.

What is the most advantageous style of defender standing at the pole? The following figure shows the perfect stance defender takes at the pole.
  1. A defender should fully concentrate his attention on an attacker in action behind the first sitting chaser.
  2. A defender should keep a suitable distance in between his steps, normally about a foot, with a sole of foot nearer the pole resting behind the pole line while the other sole resting in the court where first sitting chaser is facing. (See picture).
  3. A defender holds a pole by the palm of the hand nearest to pole. 4) The standing posture with a slight bend at the waist is preferred.

Basic but strenuous skill of defence. However, it should not be the main defence skill. Should be brought into play either after exhaustion or mixed with other skills. A 'Defender' entering from the backside of each successive chaser, when the preceding chaser gets a Kho engraves a chain like design. Thus came to be known a 'SINGLE CHAIN'. Defender should not complete the chain from behind the adjecent two chasers from post, but goes to the post straight from 7th lane. It is essential to be as close to the back of the seated chaser as possible. Pausing behind the seated chaser and listening the 'Kho' is unavoidable.

Defender has to change direction and speed more or less at every next moment. Aspirants, if master this skill in the begining, their reflexes are highly improved. Other skills can then be developed and mastered easily. Short steps runners can employ this skill easily.


It is easy to visualize that these tips make it convenient for a defender to enter in either of the courts smoothly and without any time lapse in physical movement's adjustments. If the first sitting chaser gets a kho or action kho, a defender immediately brings his palm of the second hand in action to hold the pole and goes round the pole in the court opposite to the court of the new attacker.

If, on the other hand, an attacker prefers not to give kho and comes round the pole to catch a defender; defender has a distinct advantage that he is partly in the court where he wants to run. He saves the time for going round the pole. This advantage makes it difficult for an attacker to catch a defender. Another tip of caution to a defender is that he should take care that either a sitting chaser on square one, after getting kho or an attacker does not attempt a pole dive to catch him. Once a defender acquires the skill of getting out of trap at the pole, he becomes capable of playing long defence innings.
A route defence

As the title of the skill suggests, a defender decides his route between the poles and defends himself by running on the same route repeatedly. It is mentioned above that if a defender crosses a central lane by going past the back of a sitting defender, he maintains a safe distance between him and chasers. Based on this guide line, a traditional route is developed for safe defence, called 'A route defence' or 'A double chain defence' or 'a 3-6-9 route defence'. (See picture) The middle name has its origin in the observation that defender going from one pole to another and his returning to the starting pole forms a chain of three loops for which the defender crosses the central lane twice between the poles. The third name is self explanatory as the defender crosses the central lane by going past the chasers' backs sitting at squares number 3,6 and pole as if it was the 9th square.



It may so happen that the chaser on the third square is facing the court where a defender is positioned. In that case, the defender needs to adjust his 'route' by crossing the central lane by going past the back of chaser sitting on square two, followed by another change of court by crossing the central lane by going past the back of chaser sitting on square three which brings him on the predetermined route.

Alternatively, there can be other adjustments like 4-5-6-9, or after going past the back of the chaser sitting on square four, a defender may directly go to the pole. Some times another route defence is adopted by skilled defenders in which a defender goes round the pole and changes the court immediately by crossing the central lane going past the back of chaser sitting on square one. The next change of court would be by crossing the central lane going past the back of chaser sitting on square four followed by a run directly to opposite pole. Thus, a route is named as '1-4-9 route of defence'



Two important points need to be mentioned here.
  1. A route with change of court after going past the backs of successive chasers needs the development of a special skill.
  2. The change of court of more than three defenders should have a lower priority as it is likely to increases the speed of chase.



It is important to change the court by crossing the central lane by going past the back of the chaser sitting on square six as the defender reaches the pole by keeping the safe distance between him and the attacker. The chaser sitting on square 7 also faces the opposite court and therefore it may be thought that after 3 & 6 the defender crossing the court by going past the back of the chaser sitting on square 7 would suit the defence. It is not so. If it is executed and the chaser on square 7 gets a kho, the defender does not get enough ground to make adjustments in his 'route'. In fact, every defender is instructed never to cross the court from behind the chaser on square 7.

After crossing the court by going past the back of chaser on 6th square, the defender is expected to go towards the pole but not directly. If a chaser on square 6 directly attempts to catch a defender without giving kho to a chaser on square 7, it is convenient for the defender to cross the court from the gap in between the pole and the chaser on square 8. A chaser is forced to go round the pole as he is prevented to cross the central lane by the rules of the game, thus, a defender gets an advantage in terms of covering less ground and crosses over to the opposite court earlier.

In fact, this is the only occasion where a defender is recommended to cross the central lane from the front of a sitting chaser. In fact, every time a defender goes towards a pole, he is advised to prepare for crossing the central lane from the space in between the pole and the chaser on square 8. However, if chasers manage to give kho on square 7, the defender, instead of crossing over to the opposite court may go to a pole and continue his defence with a normal strategy.

The chasing team tries to disturb the route defence described above by giving forward khos. The counter strategy of the defenders is to take a stop near the back of a sitting chaser next to the one on the 'route'. In case of forward kho, the defender changes his direction, makes adjustments and continues his route defence in the opposite direction.

Few difficulties arise in the counter strategy. Since the defender runs a distance of almost three lanes before crossing over to the opposite court, he gathers considerable momentum. It makes him difficult to stop at the back of a sitting chaser and immediately change the direction of defence, in case of forward kho. Moreover, while making adjustments for establishing the route in opposite direction, the defender needs to cross the central lane from the gap in between the consecutive sitting chasers. Such cross over of courts needs a special skill which every defender must acquire if a route defence is to be applied.

Here is an example of how the chasers can thwart counter strategy by giving forward kho In a double chain defence, a defender crosses the central lane by going past the chaser on square 6. The Chaser, instead of giving kho to the chaser on square 6 gives a forward kho to the chaser on square 8.

The defender, taking pause at the back of the chaser on square 7, marks the forward kho and changes his direction of running, crosses the central lane immediately after going past the chaser on square 7 in forward direction, (which is the same as the chaser on square 2 in backward direction); takes a pause at the back of the chaser on square 6 of forward direction (square 3 of backward direction). If the chaser on square 7 gets a kho, the defender once again crosses the central lane going past the chaser on square 6 of forward direction and then continues his defence of 3-6-9 in the backward direction, thus making forward kho futile.

In fact, there is another version of modified 'route defence' which is routinely being used by defenders who have specialized in this skill, called 'single chain defence'.
Single chain defence

In this version of route defence, defender crosses over to an opposite court every time he goes past the back of sitting chaser up to the chaser sitting on square 6. After going past the back of the chaser on square 6, he directly goes towards the pole, unless the chaser on square 6 after getting kho prefers to directly chase him rather than giving kho to a chaser on square 7. In that case, the defender may cross over to the opposite court from the gap in between chaser on square 8 and pole. The advantages of such a cross over to the opposite court have been discussed above. A general route of single chain defence is shown in the following figure. (Normal single chain defence is shown by red line. The case of forward kho is shown by blue line)



If a defender has adapted to the single chain defence, tactically, it is the normal practice that the opponent team tries to break the 'route' by giving a forward kho. The defender can still continue to play the single chain defence by changing his direction. As an example, where a chaser on square 4, instead of giving kho to a chaser on square 5 gives a forward kho to a chaser on square 7; a defender reacts to this by changing his direction and then a general route of single chain defence in the changed direction is also shown in the above given figure.

There are some distinct advantages of playing the single chain defence over the double chain defence. The foremost among those is that chasers are forced to give many khos. Since many fouls are related to the actions while giving kho, the possibility of fouls rises; lowering the speed and rhythm of the chase. Also, a defender is vulnerable to get out near the pole. In the game of the single chain defence, a defender spends more time in the mid court avoiding the pole. However, defenders must be aware that the single chain defence game needs special skills apart from the qualities like suppleness of the body, fast reflexes, etc.

A defender should be able to adjust his stepping/footwork to the maximum exactitude. Also, the careful application of the 'Palati or Directional deception' proves to be very effective. It is very difficult to play the single chain defence game in fast chase with fewer fouls. In case a defender finds difficulty in adjusting his stepping, he may switch over to the double chain defence without any difficulty. For beginners, the double chain defence is much easier to adapt. Incidentally, the single chain defence is more frequently used by women khokho players..
Double chain defence

Most popular and basic way to defend though involves continuous running. It gives more stability, it is more safe and comfortable. A defender is able to keep himself at a safe distance and run along a well-laid route. This is also useful to test the speed, style of chase and also the ground condition.

There are several routs, but the basic fibre has remained the same. Two chasers are in a loop that is formed, when a defender traverses the route. However the perfect , almost flawless, a widely deployed common route is 3, 6, 9 or Post. The 'Defender' crosses the Central Lane twice from behind the seated chasers 3 and 6 while moving towards the Post. He repeats the route from opposite end unless the chasers force him to change it if it is so defender use the rout 2,3,6,9 or Post. He goes to the Post after enter from behind the 3rd chaser from the Post.

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