By Ernest Emerson, The Guardian Shepard
Almost all street fights are won by the guy who throws the first punch. There are certain reasons for this. The most obvious is that a lot of attacks are surprise attacks. For example, in the middle of a verbal confrontation one guy clobbers the other with a sucker punch. Since the guy on the receiving end usually reacts by turning away or covering, the attacker merely continues attacking, usually with a flurry of punches. In this fight scenario the attacker usually wins. It’s important to know that the guy being attacked can be an untrained fighter or a highly experienced fighter. It can happen to anyone and will happen to anyone at some point, if you’re involved in the fight game for any length of time. Remember it was a surprise attack to start with. Even the most experienced boxers will cover and retract when an opponent unleashes a flurry of punches.
Now the best thing you can do in this situation is either get out of the line of fire or attack back aggressively. Unfortunately these types of fights happen so fast that sometimes all the damage is done before you even have a chance to react.
However, this is not about the principles and techniques of counterattacking in this article. We are going to discuss is a topic based not on “The best defense is a good offense,” but rather, “Defense is offense.” By abiding by that principle then an attack, an attack without warning and a continuous attack with unrelenting force is the surest way to avoid defensive fighting. Defensive fighting is by nature a catch up game. You will be reacting to an attack or the blows that are thrown by the other fighter. In a real fight there are no rules, no ref and time is not on your side. Defensive fighting implies almost a wait and see picture. If someone is trying to seriously injure or perhaps even kill you, you cannot afford the luxury of letting him strike first. The bottom line is simply this: you might miss – he might not.
The most effective street fighters, tough guys or saloon fighters are always talked about in terms of aggression, toughness and, sneaky or dirty. Now, fortunately most of you who read this are good guys. We’re not going out and beating the hell out of people. We’re the protectors of the innocent.
However, when you are confronted with a situation where an attack is imminent, then you should be ready and willing to use every trick in the book. After all, your survival or the survival of your loved ones might be at stake. Let me just interject this point: I’m not concerned with legalities in this article.
I’m concerned with survival. There is a big, big difference between the way a law reads on paper and the reality of facing down two ex-cons who step out of the shadows in front of you at midnight on the way to your car.
The biggest difference between defensive fighting and offensive fighting is your mindset. In essence the difference changes from, “I’m not going to let this S.O.B. kill me” to this, “I’m going to kill this S.O.B.”
Now, if your training, no matter how hard or how tough does not contain some aspect of pre-emptive or first strike training it is not a true reality based fighting art. You actually have to practice striking first and without warning. You must integrate the same tactics and strategies used by those same tough, aggressive, dirty and sneaky street fighters.
Here are some of the tactics you should incorporate into your training:
- Setting up the first strike. There’s a million ways to do this (Be Creative).
- Going from a completely relaxed posture to a furious punching flurry.
- Non-telegraphic delivery. Practice going from a perfectly still (motionless) fighting stance, to an instantaneous, blinding, full speed punch. The jab is perfect for this.
- Pre-load posture – the classic arms crossed over your chest creating a spring-loaded backhanded strike. Practice against the heavy bag. Develop some power!
- Fakes, feints and distractions – my favorites. For example, fake a groin shot and then strike to the head or fake a punch and go in for a double leg takedown. Distractions might include throwing your hat or keys into their face.
- Moving in a non-threatening manner. The act of raising your hands up while saying, “Hey, I don’t want to fight you” can actually allow you to be moving your hands into a striking position without triggering a response in the opponent or giving away your intentions.
- Capturing the mind. Simply asking a question can be enough. This is where you need to understand how the human mind works. For example, when you ask someone a question regarding numbers, especially something they can relate to, the mind automatically searches for the answer. In the middle of a verbal confrontation if you were to ask, “What size shoe do you wear?” It would break the momentum and they may even answer the question. Or, if they respond by replying such as, “What the hell do you want to know that for?” Then you have captured their mind if only for a moment. That is the precise moment to deliver your attack.
In closing I would like to stress that you need to spend some time practicing or at the least, thinking about these first strike scenarios. You don’t ever want to be trying something for the first time in actual combat.
Once you have initiated your attack you have to follow through with ruthless intensity until the threat to you or your loved ones is completely neutralized. This is where aggressiveness in your routine training will pay off. The U.S. Marines have one main strategy, and it is as true in battle as it is a hand-to-hand Combat. “When attacked, respond back with overwhelming aggressive firepower.” It works for them. It’ll work for you. And finally, there is no truer statement regarding combat or conflict. “Defense is offense.”
Ernest R. Emerson is a knife-maker and personal combat instructor.
Visit his knife site – click here to visit EmersonKnives.com