Saturday, July 29, 2006

Against the Fighting Stance

This excellent essay, "Against the Fighting Stance," is in complete agreement with my strategy (maybe that's why I like it so much) for a non-confrontational, non-telegraphing stance. I employ both tactics mentioned the second before the first (do a search through the blog), depending on the apparent severity of the situation. It's very well-written, and descriptive. Please read it all. Excerpts:

Adopting a fighting stance is a clear intention that violence is on the way. Not only does it tell you attacker that you are ready to fight (killing the element of surprise), it tells everyone around you as well, which may put you on shaking legal ground should you try an claim self defence in a court of law. A lesser worry, but one you should keep in mind, is that many fighting stances provide clues as to common attacks that a experienced fighter may pick up on. Many arts have characteristic stances that are easily recognized by even amateur martial arts enthusiasts. A wrestling stance is quite unique, as is a standard karate stance. The square Wing Chun stance is easily recognizable as is the small phasic bent knee stance of Jeet Kune Do. And while an attacker may not be able to pick up exactly what style you have experience with he will probably be able to grasp things like: grappler or striker, quick, outside fighter or solid, inside fighter. Remember the common street thug is likely to have been around the block a time or two and is an experienced fighter. Considering this one would be well rewarded to consider some alternatives.

The best alternatives are neutral, no-aggressive stances that lend themselves to quick action. The stances should be conducive to relaxation and should appear casual. You want you stance to say "Hey buddy, I am not looking for trouble". Two of the best alternatives are outlined below.

The Fence

The term the fence was coined by Geoff Thompson an excellent self defence instructor out of England. The fence is very similar to an old time boxing stance. The arms are partially extended, just below head level. The palms face outward in a gesture of appeasement. As its name implies. the fence acts as a physical barrier between you and a would be assailant. It lends itself well to de-escalation, yet also allows for rapid deployment of any techniques. It is also a position which takes advantage of the flinch response should you be surprised. The common flinch response while in the fence stance is to drop your center of gravity while raising your arms to head level. This intercepts blows to the head quite nicely.

The "Jack Benny"

I first heard this stance called the Jack Benny stance on an internet forum I frequent and I liked it, so it stuck, it is called the thoughtful stance. The Jack Benny resembles Rodan's "Thinker" while standing. One hand is by the chin and the other rests on the elbow of the first. The high hand protects the head and neck, and the low hand protects the solar plexus and other low targets such as the groin. This stance takes advantage of the other common flinch response. In this flinch, the high hand's elbow comes perpendicular to the body, while the forearm covers along the head. The free hand often comes up to cover the front of the face. In this stance it is important to remember that the arms do not cross the low hand cups the elbow of the high hand.

Of the two stances, I prefer the Fence. I feel it allows for more aggressive action than the Jack Benny posture. I also like the physical barrier it presents. However, the Jack Benny is by far the more deceptive pose. Practice from both and see which one feels best for you. The main thing is to remember that self defence is not sport fighting, where two people consent to fight each other. It is not even the old time death matches you always here of Master Soandso winning hundreds of. Keep your goals in mind when you train and train using realistic scenarios. Practice being ambushed with your hands down, practice being "Interviewed" while in the Fence or Jack Benny postures. Above all, keep it simple and realistic.

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