This is an article on basic concepts and self defense techniques. Novice fighters pay close attention! The techniques discusses in this article can be applied to any martial art- such as the Kung Fu Knife Defense tips detailed in this FREE 45 minute video course on knife defense.
There are arguably only seven ways to handle an external force. This article seeks to name them, and give you an idea of how to apply them:
Put your own force against the coming force along the same course but in the opposite direction.
For an example taken directly from professional wrestling, take a look at this video on takedown-defense by Jerry Wetzel:
“Meeting” of course includes simply lifting your arms to shield from a strike, but as always when talking about a principle, there are more sophisticated ways of using it.
Sophistication is achieved by consciously combining principles of self defense techniques, and in this case, the main two principles to keep in mind when meeting the opponent’s force are hard against soft (for example an elbow placed in line with the oncoming bicep of an opponent’s hook) and durable against frail (for example the heel of your foot placed in line with the opponent’s shin, to meet his kick).
Applying opposing pressure to a motion before the motion is finished is also sometimes an effective way to negate its power. This is not true for all techniques. There’s a reason “walking into” something is usually considered a bad thing, but with educated judgement, it does not have to be.
This goes for impact, of course, but there are enough grappling attacks that can be effectively countered, simply by meeting the force from the other end, as well. Meeting the force of you opponent may require some strength on your part.
Another important thing to keep in mind is that most of the time, a motion is not isolated, meaning that if, say, an opponent’s arm is reaching to strike you, or his leg is reaching to kick you, his entire body is actually in motion, to some degree, his weight and center of mass are shifting.
In extension, this means that if we change the direction of one part of our opponent’s body, it will affect every other part, to some extent.
For example, if our opponent kicks at us, we can respond with a kick, not to the leg reaching for us, but to the side of the hip that is directly above the leg he’s standing on. Breaking the line of his hip moves his center of mass backwards and all power in his kick is lost, and in reality, considering he’s standing on only one leg, there’s a good chance he’ll drop, as well.
This mechanical principle, manipulating one part to affect another, gives us a myriad of technical options, all on its own. Have fun experimenting with that.
For more on mechanics in fighting, see Lar’s article he put out a week ago.
Take control over the force and increase its speed/the length of the motion.
This is used in the purpose of breaking the opponent’s balance and can be achieved through something as simple as grabbing a kicking leg and pulling it in the same direction it was already going.
At close range, if you have your hands on your opponent, a lot of options appear, partially because feeling your opponent allows you to somewhat predict his moves, but also because having your hands on your opponent makes sure you don’t have to “catch” his attack to manipulate it. You simply follow.
Step out of the motion-direction.
Dodging, simply. Dodging can be done by moving your head, by moving your feet, or by moving anything in between. This can be used to avoid for example attacks that are too powerful, or too fast to handle in any other way. Missing techniques spends the opponent’s energy and can, depending on his balance and control, even serve to break his balance or create openings.
For plenty of masterful examples of avoiding, enjoy this Mike Tyson-compilation:
Use a force of your own to change the direction of the opponent’s force.
A good re-direction is one that does not stop our opponent’s movement, and does not take too much energy from our part.
Depending on how big our redirection is, it can work as a simple parry, or as a way to break the opponent’s balance, and/or create openings, and as such, can often be combined with simultaneous counters, in the form of strikes, joint-manipulations or even throws.
For more than a few examples of re-direction (including some entries to counters), check out this video with Nenad Ikras:
Follow the force along the same course, in the same direction, without affecting it.
Perhaps the most difficult method, following a person’s attack just outside of the person’s reach, at roughly the same pace the person is moving, this is not categorized as a version of “avoiding”, simply because you can follow a movement, even after making contact with it, for example by twisting your head at the moment of impact.
Following can, among other things, cause an opponent to over-reach on his own, creating openings and possibly breaking the opponent’s balance.
It’s also useful for getting a feeling for the opponent’s power, rhythm etc. before applying any of the other methods, or simply counter-attacking.
Of course, this method cannot be mentioned without a referral to its figure-head, who provides plenty, albeit from a self-defense perspective perhaps somewhat repetitive, examples of its application:
Absorbing a force is done partially by contracting the muscles that will receive the force, but also through steadiness. Absorbing is also used to counter-act forceful pulls. This is used mainly in cases where the force can be handled in no other way, since it serves no other function than decreasing the effect of the force.
Do not willfully interact with the force at all.
This method can be applied during consciously entered, simultaneous exchanges, or to affect the opponent in different ways; for example to provoke him to put more force in/extend his movements more.
All of these methods can of course be combined, as well as ride upon and complement each other, in many ways.