The Single Dude’s Guide to Survival, Volume 17

The Single Dude's Guide to Survival

The Measuring Hand

Non-Contact Warding, Signaling and Targeting During a Confrontation

The Measuring Hand: The measuring hand is a confrontational gambit that serves the cause of the defender using it, the aggressor using it, and may also serve to enable and limit actual combat. This is a behavior that absolutely must be learned.

This is very basic. Even animal understands the extended human hand as a threat or ward. The uses of the Measuring Hand Are:

  1. As a warning not to advance any closer.
  2. Targeting for a strike with the other hand. Any experienced boxer or sucker puncher who extends his open hand will immediately know, based on how his feet feel under him, whether or not he can hit the target that he is pointing his hand at and intuit how mach range adjustment is necessary in order to score with a rear hand punch. This is like setting up range markers downrange from a defensive infantry position, so that targeting adjustments are reduced to a narrower, more manageable range.
  3. As a signal to a third party to act, perhaps for his fellow bouncer to take you down or his robbery accomplice to hit you from a blind side.
  4. Counter-targeting, he wants to know when you can hit him.
  5. First, you need to know why he is measuring. If he is alone, cornered and afraid, he is most probably warning you off. In this case, I suggest you step off, not back, in order to avoid a physical escalation on his part. If you step back he could read it as fear. This is when many drunks and adolescents will start wolfing more aggressively.

    Second, if he has surprised or approached you, or has been silent, expect to be hit. If you step back, his adjustment is easy, just a step forward to close, so step off instead. If you are cornered or have no lateral mobility options available to you, step in with your shoulder raised, your chin tucked under it, your rear hand extending toward his face, and your lead hand extending toward his shoulder and clinch up. This transitions well to a head-lock or over-hook.

    Thirdly, if you have been approached by a member of a group, or by a group, this may well be the ‘bum-rush’ signal. The time for you to decide is so slim, I suggest you go with your first impulse and hit him, punching under his extended hand to the body, then either slap his face or rake his eyes with your open lead hand, or check his shoulder with that hand and shove him across your front as you pass. In boxing, this is what you do to get out of a corner, or, to put your man into the corner. If you are much bigger and stronger against a pack of youths, grab this little bastard and use him as a meat-shield or meat-flail.

    Finally, if you judge that this guy is measuring you for a punch in case you come any closer, do not advance closer. This isn’t a prize-fight, but an opportunity to be arrested, sued and imprisoned, so step off and disengage casually.

    You must practice measuring when you train and spar so you have a “measuring sense”. The two most successful heavyweight boxers of all time, Jack “Big Cat” Johnson, and Muhammad Ali measured constantly. Willie Pep, the toughest pain-in-the-ass little fighter in ring history, was a huge measuring technician, and “Slapsie” Maxie Rosenbloom, the least entertaining boxer of all time, used it to great effect. Keep in mind, that your best defenses outside of the ring are those which would be the least praiseworthy and entertaining inside the ring. “Slapsie” put more fans to sleep than any other fighter in ring history, but he, unlike many far greater boxers, never went to sleep inside the ring.

    Stepping Off, Out, and Turning Video Clinic

    Note when Willie and Sandy Saddler (his tall black opponent, also one of the best in the game) would turn each other and get out of the pocket with their palm or even fist. You need this when being attacked by a group or while avoiding a measured punch. Observe the sequence at 1:48. Overall note that Pep’s power was gauged to pass his weight shift to the outside and that he habitually stepped off.

James LaFond

Horror and science-fiction author, James LaFond, writes on violence, urban survival, racism, masculinity, boxing, MMA, stick-fighting, fractional autonomy, history and man-whoring, from his ghetto rental in Harm City, U.S.A. His articles are available at You can purchase books by James on and you can follow him on his Facebook page.

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