I want you to think hard about the title of this article and for those of you that know me you will understand the philosophy behind it.
“Stop trying to win”, is he crazy, I can here people saying, but let me explain – in my line of work, we look at survival as the first priority and when I say “survive”, I do not mean to give the impression that it is about being passive in this act – far from it. Rather it is to learn how to survive the threat with the next statement in mind:
First learn to survive as through survival you will be presented with opportunities and it is then about taking advantage of those opportunities.
If you have seen my DVD’s or attended one of my seminars then you will know that I teach a lot of simultaneous defenses and counters and you will also know that I always teach people to remove themselves from the threat at the same time when delivering the counter. This situation is ideal, but I know that it is not always practical. In the case of gun and knife defenses, it is imperative, for obvious reasons that you move yourself out of harms way and it amazes me when I see some Martial Art systems teaching to confront the attack head on.
Now you ability to survive and look for opportunities must be trained and this is best learned through slow, deliberate practice. I know for some of you that the belief is that you must train the way you fight and this would not be wrong, but to react instinctively, you must train your brain in movement patterns and in doing this slowly, you will have the time to react with the most effective response to the attack.
Let’s take the fearsome right or left cross as a common attack and here is an approach – working with your partner, have the attacker throw the punch slowly and deliberately to the jaw, only the defender will keep their hands behind their back and let the punch land, without and movement. Now you have the feel for the line of attack and remember, that in combat, your attacker will fully commit to the attack by launching their bodyweight into the shot.
Next the defender will practice just moving the head enough to take the sting out of the shot and the exact move will be according to how committed the attack. Train yourself to keep your eyes on the attacker as you turn your head to deflect the attack. Practice this drill often and work up the speed, being careful not to make too much contact and over time, you will learn to move just enough to survive the attack and also, you will not panic when being attacked and your brain will remember the movement pattern and as you build up the speed, you will gain much more confidence and you will see, that this movement will become instinctive.
Now to the ‘opportunity’ part – release your hands and let them hang by your sides and as you move, see what strike is available and you are looking for the most efficient one, which will be difficult for your attacker to see. One idea here for a right-handed attack is that when you move, you can throw a left-handed counter strike to the floating ribs of your attacker. Again, when you practice this, do it slowly and deliberately and look for a precise strike. You may not have this luxury in combat, but practice it all the same. Now you are combining the survival part (movement), with the opportunity (counter strike) and you must work with all movement patterns that are possible in the situation that you are creating. Move, look for the opportunity that is presented and then learn to counter and practice these TOGETHER. You can create any and multiple situations and each time, you practice move slowly, you are committing that practice to your memory and soon you will react instinctively.