Positions of Balance

If you overreach or in any way overextend yourself, you run the risk of being caught or dragged off-balance. Be sensitive to these positions and you will be able to take advantage of an opponent who slips into them.

•Forwards - Beware the danger of leaning forward on the balls of the feet • a shove or push will unbalance you.

• Backwards - Leaning backwards on your heels, perhaps even with toes off the ground. An easy position to take advantage of - with a slight shove your balance will go.

• Right - Leaning on the outer part of your right foot, you can easily be unbalanced to the right.

• Forward right - At approximately 45 degrees between forwards and right, you arc on the ball and front part of the right foot and can be easily tripped or shoved to the right.

• Forward left - As with the forward right.

• Backward right - At approximately 45 degrees between backwards and right, you are balancing on the outer back part of your right heel and can be easily unbalanced and shoved backwards.

• Backward left - As with backward right.

You need to practise these positions so that you can feel and sec for yourself the danger of becoming off-balanced. It is advisable to train in front of a mirror so that you w ill also be able to recognize these same positions when your opponent slips into them and can learn to take advantage of them quickly.

Field of Vision

It is not a good idea to keep your eyes fixed just on your opponent's face or eyes. There is a weird kind of fallacy that a thug will always reveal his next move by the expression or the movement of his eyes. If you believe that, then you'll find yourself flattened out on the pavement by a low kick that came up from the bottom, out of your field of vision, since you were so busy staring into his eyeballs.

"Peripheral" vision is the area that you can actually sec. though not in fine detail, at the sides of your face and body when you arc looking straight ahead. To take the fullest adv antage of your own peripheral vision or field of vision, you need to keep your eyes in a mid-level position, so that you can catch blows coming from the bottom, top or side.

If you want to bccomc more aware of your field of vision and learn how to make maximum advantage of it, then practise looking straight ahead and slowly moving your hands away from the centre line of your body. Keep moving them to the side until they slip out of your vision altogether. but keep your eyes looking ahead, don't turn your head or your eyes to follow cither one of your hands. As you keep practising this, you will be becoming more sensitive to movement in your field of vision as well as actually increasing, though perhaps only very slightly, the actual range of your peripheral vision. This exercise will also help you to keep your eyes fixed on your opponent's midriff during a fight, instead of being distracted by feints he might use so that he can slam you from what will then be a blind spot • the other side.

You can practise this with a partner as well. As he attacks. keep your eyes fixed on his solar plexus and block his hand movements towards you. If he tries to come round on the side of you. then shift your position so that you stay facing him with your eyes still centred on him. Have him attack from all five attack angles I described above.

Guarding And Blocking

To block these attacks most effectively, you must guard your body, keeping your hands, arms and elbows in the best position. Never forget that there arc no controlled conditions in street fighting, so there is no "ideal pose" or "perfect position". You have to be versatile, you have to develop instinct and sensitivity so that you can adapt to what you arc facing. However, if you have already assimilated all these various guards and blocks, then you will be automatically assuming the one that is best for the situation you arc in at any particular time.

Different ranges or gaps will obviously call for different kinds of guards and blocks. As you train with your partner. you will become more sensitive to what fits where.

Guarding Close Up

If you haven't got much room to manoeuvre or if you are at quite close quarters with your opponent then this is the guard for you. It will enable you to move cither arm quickly for any strike or block.

As you lead with the left side, drop your left hand with the palm towards the ground and keep your elbow bent and your arm close to the body. Your right hand should be close to your left shoulder as you move it to the left of your face, keeping the palm also to the left and the elbow bent close to your body. If you lead with the right then the same applies with your right instead of your left hand and your left instead of your right.

Guarding From The Middle

This is best for initial contact and for attacking when you have room to move around so that you can make your opponent keep his distance by kicking and striking with your lead hand. Your elbows must be tucked in close to your body while your arms and hands reach out to block attacks before they penetrate your defcnce.

If you lead from the left then your right fist should be clenched and ready for counter-attack. Keep your fist more or less level with your chin, your head up and your chin tucked in a bit. Protect your jaw and throat when you strike by turning the chin into the shoulder of the attacking arm. Your leading left hand can be clenched or open but held at about mid biceps level with the arm slightly bent so that there is about 3 ninety degree angle between the forearm and upper arm. The opposite applies in all cases if you lead with the right.

Watch your attacker carefully and study his own hand and arm moves. If you see him prancing around and fancy foot working, making all kinds of weird and wonderful gestures in the air and making strange noises then you have yourself a lulu and if you watch him carefully you can wipe the pavement with him - he does not know as much as you and thinks to impress or intimidate you with his show. Keep your lead hand in slow movement and this will generally be enough to distract him so that you can hammer him from another direction with the other hand or one of your feet If he crosses into your defcnce range then let him have it amidships. Most thugs at this point will decide they have better things to do and will leave.

Read the chapter on knockout punches very carefully. The technique of relaxation as the arm travels and tensing up on contact is a very valuable one. enabling you to pack a formidable punch.

The Reverse Punch

In this move, you use the rear leg to drive forwards, thus creating a very powerful blow. You can use it as a surprise attack, as already explained, or as a counter punch from the non-leading side once you have blockcd or avoided your assailant's initial attack.

Lead from the left with your hands at middle guard and relax, breathe deeply. With your hips slightly backwards to the right, straighten your right leg with a rapid movement, shove your nght hip forwards and move into a left forwards facing position. This is the beginning of the vital movement of your hip to the front. As it moves forwards, bnng your right shoulder to the front too so that your arm comes forwards in a straight line, elbow well tuckcd in. Lock your wrist and tense the fist on impact only - at all other times you must be totally relaxed.

This will have produced acceleration and thrust that will make your fist like the leaded end of a whip. Concentrate on driving your blow through your target. If you have relaxed before impact, there will have been no drag on the actual movement, so reduction of speed. Then as you tense up on impact and project your strength into the blow you will produce a powerful force that will send shock waves right through the attacker's body.

Relax immediately and rccovcr to middle guard so that you arc immediately ready for the next blow. To gain maximum advantage from this punch, you must be able to gauge the best attacking distance. In other words you mustn't be over extended when your fist connects. Your arm should still be slightly bent.

Read again the chapter on speed, becausc the speed of delivery will increase the force of your blow.

HOW TO KICK - WHY YOU SHOULD NEVER KICK ABOVE THE WAIST

The essentials of a kick are stability, targeting and recovery; to which training adds focus and no broken toes. Without a stable stance from which to kick you arc only adding to your personal danger in street fighting.

Once again the movies have been very guilty in over familiarizing the Martial Arts through their portrayal of living Ninjas and flying backward kicks. Real street fighting is just so different. In fact, if there were rules to Street Fighting one would certainly be that you always kick below the belt. For your own safety you should never attempt high, flashy kicks. When they fail you will feel silly and when your opponent lands a slammer through your open defence you will feel sick. Any opponent who uses high kicks on the street has obviously had no real experience and you should try to be nice to them

Remember, kicks should always be below the waist and preferably be at foot or shin level. The higher you try to kick the more unstable you arc likely to become.

Knowing where to kick is useful but knowing how to kick is essential for both causing and avoiding injury. In an ideal world you would have remembered to put on your size 12 steel toe capped boots before fighting, but alas ... you find yourself bare foot.

Martial Arts emphasise the importance of correct kicking not only for power but also for safely. It is remarkably easy to break your own toe when kicking an opponent... and rather awkward.

•All kicks arc delivered from the ball or heel of the foot with the toes raised up and out of harm's way. Kick like this and you will find kicking opponents remarkably painless, whilst your target will think he has been hit by a hammer.

•The next essential to a successful kick is recovery. Recovery means kicking and getting your foot back from the action without your opponent grabbing it or losing your balance. The higher the kick then the longer or less likely is your recovery and until you have recovered you are not able to nail the next one on him.

• If an opponent aims a high kick at you, try to grab hold of his leg. If you can do this he is then at your mercy. Running at him while forcing his leg upwards will floor him

• Being so solid, parts of the legs arc also good for defence. The femur (thigh bone) is the strongest bone in the body and is protected by substantial muscle groups which can take a fair amount of pounding. Any kicks aimed here will be absorbed relatively unnoticed. Bringing the femur op and across the groin is a basic self defence move to protect that region from attack.

• Unlike the fearless femur the knee can give aggression but is not too good at absorbing it. This is because the knee is a one way ball and socket joint limited in forward motion by the patella (kneecap) and backward motion by the calf and thigh muscles. Rather like the elbow it is superbly strong when used at the right angle, but hates being abused or twisted in the wrong direction.

• Any effective attack to the knee will be from the side. A suitable knife edge kick, snap kick, or similar size 12 incoming will stretch and tear the assembly sideways resulting in incredible pain and a lop sided feeling.

• The effective defence to this ball popping, joint snapping missile is to roll your knee in and absorb the impact on the back. This move is worth practising and remembering.

• The shins arc very resilient to direct kicking but hurt like hell if they arc scraped with the heels or soles of a shoe. Many defence books will tell you to try and scrape your attacker's shins to escape from a bear hug, but this can be difficult.

A much belter dcfence for anyone grabbed in a bear hug from behind and lifted is to try running. It doesn't matter that your feet are off the ground but as your legs try and run they will hit your attacker. This, couplcd with tin: sheer surprise of what you arc doing will result in the hug being released. If you try this release then remember to put your hands out in front of you. When you are dropped you will be projected forwards and should aim to land in a sprinters' crouch, the ideal position from which to run away (after all if they are big enough to lift you up in a bear hug why hang around?)

• Bringing the heel down on to the top of the foot is also a good release defence but it needs to be done with focus. You must raise your knee towards your chin before unleashing a blood curdling cry and focusing the energy of your heel downwards and through your aggressor's foot.

It's nice to be able to do fancy kicks bccausc they impress your friends, but in street fighting you're not out to impress ... only to be effective!

Safety Soldier

Safety Soldier

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