Anti-Fighting Tools & Drills
Developing Combat Readiness to Deal with Uncorked Rage and Imminent Threat
I was behind writing the post on Threatening and Raging because I went out of town to work with a group of men at a small gym. I brought my cave man and he sparred with their cave man, they both having an eye on competition.
That left three normal human men with varying physical abilities who just want to survive in an increasingly violent world. As I modified my boxing jab drill to accommodate their needs, which have generally been mine, it occurred to me, that before we advance to threatening and raging—where we will be at the getting physical tipping point and the aware defender might be best served by touching his man first—that it makes no sense to continue along the confrontational behavioral trajectory without some basic defensive tools.
- Stand square to your imaginary threat.
- Step back with either foot, cocking it toe out between a 10 and 90 degree angle depending on how your feet work.
- The toes of your lead foot should angle diagonally and should not point directly at the threat. Imagine your are crushing peanut shells under foot with the ball of your foot as you angle it in, engaging your hip slightly.
- An imaginary line should run between your rear heel and the toe of the lead foot. If you drag your foot up and the rear heal hits your toe adjust it until you could slide that rear heel on a straight line past the toe of your lead foot.
- From the waist down you have achieved the standard boxing guard, by stepping back, where boxers are trained to achieve this by stepping forward. If your lead foot is ever in a blocking position between your rear foot and the threat, then your ability to use your rear hand for defense or countering will be compromised severely. (You never attack—ingrain that in the brain. You are the defender, always.)
- Function Drill: Practice moving around a stationary target by stepping and dragging by pivoting on your lead foot, and by stepping around with your rear foot, always striving to maintain the imaginary power line between your rear heel and the delivery vector before your lead toe. Whatever foot is nearest the direction you wish to go moves first, and the other slides along an equal distance.
- Raise your hands so that the wrists rise to neck level and the finger tips line up just under your eyes.
- Cup your fingers in an open cone with no digits loose, but together in a single unit, the thumb pressing in just behind the first joint in the index finger, the pinkie riding up against the ring finger.
- Extend your hands forward so that your shoulder, elbow and hand form a V, with the elbow at the inverted apex.
- Pull your rear shoulder back so that your shoulders are no longer square with the threat. This is very important and has many uses, narrowing your target, reserving power in the rear hand, and not seeming threatening.
- Step with your lead foot, dragging the rear foot an equal distance [this is the base boxing skill] and touch something without reaching or stretching, but achieving contact via a short step or double step, not a long step.
- Touch with your finger tips.
- Having touched many times with your finger tips from varying angles and ranges push off with the rear foot that you just dragged forward so that your fingertips will slide up the surface you touched and your palm will press into the surface, not thrusting with the heel of the hand but cupping a shaped target or pressing a flat target. You have found your power.
- Anything that you can palm press or cup with the lead hand can be touched with equal or more force with the rear hand, provided your lead foot is not between you and the target.
- If a hook punch is thrown at the side of your head you slide the hand on that side up onto the ear and temple and shrug your shoulders as the punch lands.
- If a punch is sent to your belly drop your elbow on his thumb.
- If he tries to grab you or throws a straight punch check his forearm, elbow or shoulder with the nearest hand and then move to the outside of that reaching hand, always away from the other hand. Move to a position where his rear foot is behind his lead foot and his lead foot is between your feet, which gives you two hands on one and superior leverage.
- Any time he moves his body forward for a body lock, check the nearest shoulder and move off of it. Do not shove him, but shove off. I call this Goon Surfing. Use him as a post to push away. Practice this by pushing off an actual pipe or fence post, clothes pole, etc. Do not shove with the heel of the hand but cup and check and push off, gliding away on your toes.
- When he grabs at your lead arm or hair, or shoulder sleeve or collar or hood in frustration, use your rear hand to push his hand down and then push off of him again with the lead hand. Bait and switch with your checking hands, always moving behind him.
- If he seriously goes for a hand to hip move, or tries to charge or “shoot” like a wrestler head down, then check his head with your lead hand, jamming his neck, and then move away from his line of advance.
- These are the basic tools of the “check-boxer.” You are anti-fighting, using his aggression to push away and restore separation.
- Talk with your hands extended and your chin down if you decided to say you want no trouble. After contact some verbalization that indicates you do not want to fight can diffuse a situation, particularly one that seems to becoming embarrassing to him. Say, “You win buddy. I don’t want any,” and keep inching off with hands up and open, hands that he now has some respect for.
- Movie Note: The best film adaptation of this technique is the Russel Crowe movie Cinderella Man, in which he avoids a fight with a friend in the street by using the checking hand.
If things get nasty here are ways to adapt the checking hand into resolution tools. The entire amped arsenal will be covered later. For now, consider them desperate measures.
- Power check the head. If you are a big dude this should rock his world and crunch his neck. If you are not, practice slamming the wall with step delivery, not upper body strength, but with grace, like a fencer. Remember that the power comes from the step alone. Do not push or dig in with the heel of the hand, but do a controlled slap.
- If he is really pressing it and you are inclined to punch, make a fist with the thumb side of the hand up and with the thumb locking in the front portion of the two large fingers, making the “box” in boxing. This punch should only be delivered to the nose. If he has not been punched extensively before his eyes will water and cause some disorientation. As with the power check, arm strength is not used, but the power of the step. This is a lead hand jab with the rear hand kept in reserve to guard and brush of grabbing attempts.
- If this guy is really trying to hurt you, form the open cupped hand into a spear point by coning the three long fingers together and spearing his eye as you move away from the other eye. The fingers should enter the eye below the temple and rake along the organ into the nose. The fingers must not be straight but slightly bent forward. This strike is practiced by hanging paper from a doorframe and pooping it. The hand is conditioned by filling a bucket with rice or beans and shoving the spear hand into it repeatedly, beginning slowly and eventually getting ballistic.
- Your default weapon, when the nose jab and eye rake to not work, is the power check with either hand to the top of the head and shoulder, moving off line to the outside of his closest hand to always keep two of your hands on one of his. Never, ever stand in front of him.
- Finger touch a wide variety of surfaces while in motion.
- Check, power check and push off a fence post, pipe, door frame, wall beam, etc.
- Finger jab paper and trying to pop a hole in it.
- Punch a hanging, damp towel and pull your jabbing fist back halfway to your shoulder without getting hung up in the towel or letting your fist drop down on the return.
- Take turns feeding approaching targets to your partner.
- Hold up the palm to be finger jabbed.
- Fold out a palm down fist so he can practice checking it.
- Move in with one shoulder forward so that he can check and move off of your shoulder.
- Go in low and square so he can practice checking your head and moving off with a pivoting foot under the checking hand. Go light here to save your necks. Practice power checks on shoulders and fists.
- Practice throwing a slow punch (either hook or straight) so he can practice shielding and shrugging or checking the forearm or shoulder and moving off.
- Practice reaching to the hip with the right hand to simulate drawing a knife so that he can practice moving off with a departing check from the other shoulder, keeping your empty hand and body between your “knife’ hand and him.
- Mix it up.
- Learn in slow motion.
- Each check and strike is a transference of foot motion, not the use of the arm as a weapon, but as an energy vector.
- Start slow and finish slow, coming down from a good tempo to recheck your form before fatiguing.
- Practice from both sides.
- Consider leading with your right in most situations in order to stay as far away from his potential weapon hand as possible. 19 out of 20 knifers are right handed.
If you have any specific training questions concerning the above methods feel free to e-mail them to me.
Next week we will hop back on the Confrontational Behavior [Asshole] scale. In the mean time, if a dude challenges you, step back or off, hide the rear shoulder, and if he tries to lay a hand on you do not punch him, but check him. If he persists, poke him in the eye.
By all means, if he looks down or drops a shoulder, understand he is about to hit you and check that shoulder as this will gum up his sucker punch.