Don’t be There When the Attack Comes
In a previous blog called Knowing Your Reactionary Gap Might Just Save Your Life, I discussed the distance needed to give you time to avoid an attack. The article ended with the following thought:
“Now that you know your Reactionary Gap, you still need to know what to do during the time that it gives you. Now is the time to learn defensive principles, techniques and tactics so that you can defend yourself effectively during the time the Reactionary Gap offers you.”
The First Tactic to Learn and Practice is Simply to MOVE
30 years ago, my Aikido instructor told me what the best defense was. “Don’t be there when the attack comes," he said.
What he was referring to, however, was simply to recognize threat cues (movement in the hips, shoulders, hands, etc.). And then move out of the way so the attack misses you.
Now fast forward to today. Scientific research now shows that my Aikido instructor was pretty much spot on.
In a shooting situation, for example, research shows that if you recognize the threat cues, and then simply move out of the way, even by only a half step to the side, it can give you enough time to get the first shot off. Or at least ensure their first shot is a miss. Police Officers with only a short training session were able to recognize the cues and move out of the way so the ‘shot’ missed them. And they were able to get a shot off on their target.
The best way to train yourself to recognize threat cues and to move out of the way of the attack is to work with others. Like a partner, or a coach/instructor and some quality video equipment. However that does get expensive.
Another way to train threat cue recognition is to watch surveillance videos of actual assaults on the internet. If you watch closely, you will typically see that an attack starts with movement of the head, shoulders and hips. The head (lowering of the chin), shoulders (slight rise), and hips (rotating, lowering and slight bending) can give you advance notice that an assault is happening.
All you have to do is be aware and be observant. After you learn to recognize those threat cues, use visualization techniques to practice moving out of the way.
Related Post "Awareness: The Cornerstone of Self Defense"
Unfortunately, moving out of the way is not always possible, even if you are paying attention.
Sitting in a car or restaurant, for example, can make your movement more difficult. So you must practice moving from a sitting position more frequently than when you’re standing. If you are ambushed (assaulted by surprise), keep in mind that moving out of the way is probably not an option until after the first strike/shot. But if at all possible move as soon as you can.
It’s a good feeling to know that what an instructor taught me long ago can be validated through scientific research. Thanks to all those that have worked so hard to help us all be safer.