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Sporting guards: e.g boxing guards. Short to allow opponent into optimum striking range, allows full range of attacks to be used. Relies on physically stopping the blow. Leaves the centreline undefended to allow jabs and crosses easy access to the face. No need to overcome the guard before attacking the defender as defender and the guard can be attacked simultaneously.
Martial guards: Extended with hands placed in front to physically control the centreline making attacks along it easy to deflect or block and forcing the attacker to attack from outside of arms reach and allowing the defender better control of mai-ai. Both aspects limiting attackers choice of attacks and forces the attacker to defeat the guard before attacks can be made to the body of the defender, potentially forcing the attacker into over commited attacks in an attempt to smash through the guard. Uncommitted attacks are defeated by a combination of distancing, movement and parrying.