A Swing and a Miss
by Tom Quinn (Nihon Goshin Aikido)
When faced with someone intent on doing you bodily harm in the street, or when training in the dojo, the ability to avoid being hit is a skill well worth developing. There are four basic ways to avoid being hit that are used by virtually every martial art, sometimes and stand alone techniques, but most often, used in combination with one another.
Blocking is the act of stopping an attack from reaching its intended target. When done properly a block is not just an obstacle, but an attack to the offending limb. A block should have enough force behind it to cause pain to, or incapacitate the attacker, in order to discourage him from using the limb in a second attempt to strike, at least temporarily. When attacked by a much larger opponent, a good block can prevent the attack from landing on the intended target, but may cause you to lose balance as a result of the force of the attack.
Parrying is a redirection of the energy of a strike. An effective parry will redirect the strike away from the intended target, and clear of your body. An ineffective parry will move the attack from the intended target in t another area of your body, so the attack will land, just not where the attacker intended. Ideally a parry should cause the attack to miss you and break the attackers balance, but stay close to your body. This proximity to your body prevents your attacker from being able to follow up without repositioning while leaving him vulnerable to a counterattack.
Tai Sabaki or body movement, also called evasion, target denial, etc., requires proper timing and distance. Once and attack is launched it is very difficult to change direction and speed, unless the target moves too soon or too slowly. In order for evasion to be successful, the attack only has to miss by a fraction of an inch, causing the attacker to have to regain his balance and reposition himself in order to attack again. Blending, slipping, sidestepping, turning, and ducking are just some of the examples of tai sabaki.
Preemptive Strike, strike as soon as you know that an attack is imminent. Strike as your attacker winds up or chambers. Strike as he makes a threatening move towards you. Strike as soon as he gets into range. Strike hard and repeatedly until you are in control of the situation and the threat is over.
Awareness and avoidance is the first line of defense in any situation that has the potential of becoming physical. Realistically, in any physical confrontation you should expect to be hurt, Murphy’s law and experience dictate that it will happen. The methods listed, especially when used in conjunction with each other, should reduce the number of times you get hit, and the severity of the impact when you do.
Copyright© 2003, Gerry Seymour. All rights reserved.