Emerson Combatives: Fakes, Feints And Distractions

Ernest Emerson | Contributor

All war is deception.

There was an old ploy that was often used to great effectiveness by petty street muggers on the streets of New York for a long time. It goes like this. Bad guy approaches you from the front in a nonchalant, non-threatening manner. He pauses as he is about to pass you by and simply asks, “Hey, buddy. Do you know what time it is?” You pause, raise your arm, and look down at your watch. “It’s …” Bam. You get clobbered by a sucker punch. You stagger, trying to stay on your feet, and the thief grabs you, reaches into your pocket, and takes your wallet. He’s gone and you’re still trying to figure out what just happened. Well, what happened was that you have just become a casualty of deceptive warfare, upfront and personal.

You can break deceptive warfare down into three main categories. Fakes, feints, and distractions. You need to learn how to use them, and also how to prevent them from being used on you.

The Fake

The fake is a physical movement or a false commitment to action, designed to draw a desired response in the opponent. In personal combat, it is one of the most valuable skills in your arsenal, yet it is never taught. How many of you have ever been in front of a Combatives instructor who said, “Welcome to today’s class. Today, we’re going to learn and practice fakes?” If you are a man, just think back to grade school, when one of your “buddies” faked a punch to your groin. Always drew a reaction, right? It still works. A good fake can set up a knockout punch because if done right, you know what your opponent’s reaction will be before he does. And you’ll be a full beat ahead of them.

The Feint

The feint is an action that makes your opponent think you are going to do one thing, when you are actually going to do something else. The feint is a little more subtle than the fake, but can still be quite effective, if applied with the right timing. It’s more of a mental ploy than a physical one. Magicians are masters of the feint, making you believe they are doing one thing, when they are really doing something else.

Here are a couple of examples. Let’s say in boxing match, in this case, you use your eyes as the tool. You look at your opponent’s lower mid-section and throw two or three low punches in quick succession to that area. Then, back off a step. Once again, you look directly at the opponent’s lower mid-section and move forward to punch. His hands drop, and you don’t punch to the lower mid-section, you come over the top to strike his head, which was your actual target.

You captured his mind, if only for a brief instant, making him think you were going to do one thing, when you were really going to do another. Or, perhaps you might drop your guard, giving your opponent the illusion of an opening, offering up an easy target, hoping that he will, “take the bait.” Allowing, you in effect, to know what he was going to do before even he did, which gives you the perfect opportunity to counter his “attack.”

The Distraction

The distraction is an action that can be either physical or verbal, that captures the attention of the opponent or confuses him as to your true intent. “What time is it,” is a perfect example of that mental distraction. Or, going back again to grade school, “Your shoe’s untied.” And of course, you look down. Physical distractions can be the classic “throwing dirt into his eyes.” Or, tossing your newspaper at the bad guy’s face. Spitting in someone’s face always draws a physical reaction.

And for those of you who wear hats, I’ve seen and felt the effectiveness of a hat slap to the face, followed by a barrage of punches. (A hat slap is the act of grabbing the bill of your hat, pulling it down, and violently forward into the face of the would-be bad guy.) Real spooky guys have even sewn a lead sinker into the buttoned area at the top of the hat. Not recommending – I’m just saying …

So you see, fakes, feints, and distractions can be valuable assets in your arsenal, that can be just the extra weight that tips the balance in your favor. It’s too bad they are so neglected and not often taught. Just remember, keep your wits about you at all times so that you are not drawn into the guile and deception of another whose intentions are not good.

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Ernest Emerson is the owner of Emerson Knives, Inc. He is a tier one Combatives instructor, Master at Arms, noted author and lecturer, Black Belt Hall of Fame member and a connoisseur of fine whiskey.

Click here to visit EmersonKnives.com. Mr. Emerson offers a 10% discount on his knives to Daily Caller readers. Use the discount code – tdc (all lower case). Click here to visit the Emerson Training Center.

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