June 10, 2012

Defending Your Space

by Urban Escrima Charlie UE in Street safety

Martial Arts will get you killed! I was toying with this as a heading then opted for the ‘Defending your Space’ as, well, it’s a bit less dramatic. However, the intention of the original title is there although admittedly, taken to the extreme.Martial arts can be a good thing and can be a bad thing and as all trainers know, most of this depends on the instruction given rather than the art itself.

One thing which we see a lot of at Urban Escrima are people who come to class expecting to be taught a variety of ‘self-defence’ techniques, i.e “grab my wrist and I will apply a lock” type of mentality. It is this mentality in martial arts which is both irresponsible and dangerous.
Martial arts are guilty of teaching a ‘passive’ and yes, you read right a ‘passive’ acceptance of an attack.  Passivity and martial arts are generally not words which you would expect to find in the same sentence, however, passivity is what we consider most martial arts to teach.

Assaults generally do not start with a ‘wrist grab’ a ‘shirt grab’ a ‘strangle’ or whatnot, all of this is bunk and if you believe this is what happens in a street confrontation then you need to wake up and fast! Assaults will nearly always start with a conversation of sorts and then an approach by the attacker which would entail stepping into your ‘personal space’ to start the attack.  DO NOT WAIT for that wrist grab (an attacker will not grab your wrist anyway, they will come in with fists and feet and throwing everything at you – but we will play on the idea of a wrist l grab for sake of argument) and then attempt to apply a technique and expect your attacker to just stand there and wait, this will not happen!

What we teach at Urban Escrima from day 1 and what we expect all of our students to recognise is to understand your personal space and the importance of defending that space at all costs. For some people personal space is hard to imagine, especially for those martial artists who train with that space already invaded. Your personal space is the immediate area around you, this can be maybe arm’s length or if you are facing an attacker with weapons, we would say maybe 2-3 arm’s length from you.  The assault from your attacker starts the moment they step into this zone. We do not care whether they have actually touched you at this stage. If the attacker enters this space in an aggressive manner the attack has begun.

Now, if you have the chance you need to run! It’s simple. Do not wait around and see what happens, especially if your attacker has weapons. Nothing good can come of that. If it is not possible to run, then you need to cease the moment, be pre-emptive and attack with everything you have got during that transitional period where the attacker is making the move into your zone. It is this initiative which may save your life.

As a trainer, it is extremely important that in whatever martial art you do that you ensure realistic training is part of it. If it is not, then what are you learning? Training yourself to wait is the worst thing that you can do.

If you are an instructor then there are numerous drills which you can do to add some reality to your training. Have students approaching each other shouting, being aggressive from a distance and closing the space on the ‘victim’, while getting the victim to recognise when their zone has been invaded and get them to attack back. See if a ‘wrist grab’ or any other type of grab can be done by the attacker, they should get nowhere near, providing you have an understanding of where and what your personal space is.

There are numerous instances where self-defence techniques are required particularly if you work on the door or for the Police where you need to restrain people.  This type of training requires a different mind-set and training needs to be tailored specifically for eventualities which you may find in these situations.

We cover much of the above on our Personal Safety and Street Awareness Courses, contact us on info@urbanescrima.com for further information.


Urban Escrima