Thursday, November 12, 2009

DEFEND YOURSELF IN HAND-TO-HAND COMBAT: TEN TIPS

By popular request. These are from Sifu Emin Böztepe, I stress, not from me. I have never in my life been in hand-to-hand combat. I do, however, particularly endorse tip number six, based on its a priori logic and the way I've seen it work in training.


1. Train—a lot. Martial arts philosophy won’t help you in a real fight. Training will. No matter how good your techniques and instructors, they won’t be useful if you don’t practice regularly, mindfully, and realistically. While you train, think and feel “life or death situation.” And train with a live partner: A punching bag is nothing like someone who fights back.

2. If you find yourself in a situation that might become violent, don't stand with your fists clenched. That’s like asking for a fight. Do make a lot of noise. Yell and attract witnesses. You'll need them to testify that you didn't start it.

3. Your magnetic zone is an imaginary circle around you. It’s as big as your opponent’s striking range. The instant he enters the zone, attack.

4. Look to your adversary’s head and shoulders to see what the rest of his body is going to do, and use your peripheral vision to be aware of other threats. As soon as you sense a slight movement—like the lowering of a shoulder—go in. Explosively.

5. Footwork is key. If you’re standing at the right place at the right time, you can always win a fight. To keep stable, step with the foot closest to the direction you’re going, rather than crossing your feet.

6. If your opponent chokes you from the front, punch him in the face. As long as he’s holding you he can’t punch back or defend himself.

7. Keep your weight on your rear leg so you can defend against kicks with the front leg without shifting weight and losing time. This also keeps your front leg from being swept. Keep your kicks low. Forget about throwing a high kick to your adversary’s head. Fancy high kicks take too long and leave you off-balance and exposed.

8. You can’t protect your body by turning it away. Face your opponent. If half of your body is turned, half of your weapons are further from their target.

9. Learn to coordinate your limbs independently so you can punch and kick as many targets as possible in the shortest time. Explosive, simultaneous strikes and kicks will maximize damage and cause sensory overload in your adversary.

10. Touch gives information to the brain faster than vision. Reflexes are controlled in the spine, not in the brain. Maintain contact and feel your opponent’s intentions. By using touch, you bypass the thought process and reduce time-wasting decision-making.


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