Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Ingredients of a Defensive Response

  The majority of confrontations are initiated via one of three methods. The most common is through an attempt at striking the defenders face/head. The second is started through a grab or shove, and the third is through the use of a kick. Though several other methods are possible, these are the most common. Many confrontations will consist of varying instances of each of those situations.

  Though many systems teach their student's to defend against the type/manner of (arm)strikes that the student practices to perform (in their class), the majority of people do not perform those attempts in an equivalent manor. The most common (initially used) assault method used, is the “head punch”. The “reasons” are debatable (attempting a knock-out, or just making an attempt to shut the mouth that said the offending statement), but reports (both police and personal) have documented that this is the most popular opening (offensive) action.

“Grabs”, run a close second. These can be performed in the attempt to immobilize an individual (while attempting to strike them), or to cause them to fall, or with the intention of moving them to another location.

Lastly, are the attempts made at kicking the defender. The majority of people are not skilled at delivering an effective kick (and are equally aware of that fact), so they are rarely utilized (except as a distraction/feint).

  Oyata taught that students should practice to deal with an aggressor who is at “arm's length”(distance) from them. This is the most common distance that verbal confrontations take place. Those interactions may (initially) take place at greater distances, but the situation is only considered to become serious when that distance (arm's length) is achieved.

  Much angst has been made in regards to the reaction time required to respond to a strike delivered at this distance. That ability is determined by the amount of time that has been spent practicing the required motions. This practice is based on learning (and improving) the necessary factors to increase the students reaction time.When this is accomplished, reacting to physical assault attempts will become easier (with both time, and practice). 

  Most importantly, the student is shown how, and what to watch for when involved in a confrontational situation. New students (often) only watch the hands or the face of an aggressor. The hands are the last part of the arm to exhibit motion if/when delivering a strike. Though the eyes may indicate some intention of use, that will vary between individual's and their experience with performing the particular action.

  The defensive imperative, becomes seeing/noting when the aggressor's arm is being motioned. The hand is the last part of that arm to move. It is more important to watch the shoulder for indication of motion (This can be illustrated through numerous simple example/exercises).

  Once the student understands this, their attention can remain higher on the aggressor. This is (usually) taught to students as being done though watching the chest, or the cheek (region) of the aggressor. Persons are inclined to “face” the direction of any action they may perform (therefore, watching the eyes can be misleading, and is often practiced as a distraction/feint by experienced fighters).

  The students use of their peripheral vision is stressed and practiced during class. Although common to watch the eyes of someone when engaged in conversation with them, that behavior is discouraged (when practicing the instructed defensive actions). Focusing upon the eyes (of an aggressor) can create the problem of “tunnel vision” (thus limiting the defender's ability to see the more important indications that would demonstrate the initiation of an aggressive motion).

  The delivery of a head strike (using the arms) is the fastest of these three possibility's. A strike (attempt) can be delivered in (only) 4 ways (via either arm). Those are the Upper-cut, the (from the) Waist Punch, the Straight Punch (shoulder/jab) and the Roundhouse Punch. Any of these may be known by various names, but these are the most commonly recognized (general) motions. The particular method most likely to be utilized in a situation, is dependent upon the aggressor's (initial) hand position.

  When the aggressor initially instigates a confrontation, and their intent is to make that confrontation physical, they will often begin with their hands raised (most often with both hands raised and “cocked” in front of them). This has both of their arms bent (coiled), and in front of them (allowing for either arm to be rapidly extended as strikes).

  When an aggressor approaches the defender in this manner, they are displaying an intent to do injury (or at the very least, to intimidate). This provides the defender with an initial reason to expect (and be concerned for) bodily harm. The defender should raise their own arms (with open hands) in a defensive manner. The defender's hand's should be extended slightly (towards the aggressor) to provide (and demonstrate) a defensive position and attitude. This is important for both one's initial defense, and for exhibiting a non-aggressive intent (for any possible legal defenses including the statements of witnesses).

  When an aggressor approaches the defender (with both of their hands raised) with their hands open or closed, it is accepted that one can presume a hostile intent. Defensively, when the aggressor's hands are both raised, it (actually) limits the possible actions that they are capable of doing, or at least the number of ways that they can perform those actions quickly (without being perceived by the defender).

  A students training, should include research regarding how any aggressive strike is able to be delivered through these (various) positions. When either of these positions are utilized, it will directly effect how any (type of) strike can/will be delivered (as well as the defensive requirements to avert them).

  Very few aggressor's can deliver a (true) “jab” (punch) effectively. The majority will “cock” their strike (before delivering it). That may only amount to an increase in the bend of the striking arms elbow, or it may include a rapid retraction of the hand (before extending that hand as a strike). Either of these motions are an indication of an impending strike. The ability to recognize these motions (which are done very quickly) requires practice that (specifically) focuses on detecting those motions.

  In a class-room environment, it is common for (fellow “uke”) students to attempt to mask the shown actions (ie. shoulder movements). Though possible (to a very limited extent), this is rarely (if ever) done in actual confrontational situations (an aggressor's primary goal is usually speed).

  This practice is began at an arm's length distance (between the two students). This is later modified to include a distanced approach. This is practiced by the students beginning (approx.) 8 feet apart, and the aggressor (uke) rapidly approaching the tori (to deliver their strike).

  Though the visual impression is that the situation is different (from being practicing at “arm's length”), the physical situation remains the same. The aggressor still must move to an arm's length distance to deliver their strike. For the defender, the situation remains the same (as when beginning close to the aggressor). This situation additionally provides the opportunity to (further) disrupt the aggressor as/before they are able to deliver their strike.

  Persons in motion make the assumption, that they have created an advantage to their tactics. This is only true to a limited extent. They have additionally created weaknesses that can be (more easily) exploited by the defender as well. It is the study of those weaknesses that the student should focus their defenses upon. 

  By moving forward, the aggressor has created momentum (making it more difficult for them to change the direction of that motion). This additionally makes it easier to predict the aggressor's subsequent position (which will include leg/body position and placement).

  This forward movement requires that the aggressor place one leg forward (with each step) to move closer to the defender. Each step provides the opportunity (for the defender) to (both) predict subsequent positions and the ability to strike (kick) one of those legs. With the aggressor moving forward, the forward leg will be carrying the (full) body-weight of the aggressor with each step (including any additional strike attempt). This creates additional susceptibility to the tori's defensive actions.

  If/when the aggressor attempts to include a kick with that motion, students will commonly retreat, or focus upon the impending “kick”. Either of these choices are flawed tactics (on their part). It is more practical/effective to deliver a (defensive) “kick” to the aggressor's support leg. New student's are often hesitant to make this attempt (at kicking the aggressor's support leg).

  If/when an aggressor attempts a (serious) “kick”, they will commonly focus (only) upon delivering that kick (making it easier to deliver a defensive kick to their support leg).

  Students often (mistakenly) assume that a “leg strike” must be performed with force. When the leg is weight bearing, even a moderate/light strike will provide substantial results (and thus nullifying any arm motions/strikes also being attempted at the time).

  It is additionally common (when a leg strike is performed) for the recipient of that strike (kick), to fall/stumble. The most common response (when that person is falling), is for them to reach out and grab (at something) for support. Very often, that “support” can/will be the defender (tori). If/when that situation occurs, it is important that the defender be versed in the various “simplistic/common” Tuite responses. Tuite skills are (very often) side-lined (by many schools) as being for “non-threatening” situations (only). Students (and schools) that endorse this belief are dismissing a major/common occurrence during a physical confrontation. Focusing only upon the possible “striking” actions, is restricting the students ability to effectively end a confrontation.

  In 30+ years of experience with physical confrontations, I have never had one ended with the use of “strikes” alone.

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