Tuesday, October 09, 2012

SELF-DEFENSE: Lee Aldridge - Default Positions, Pre-Emptive Striking, and Mass Confusion

Default Positions, Pre-Emptive Striking, and Mass Confusion 
By Lee Aldridge

The subject of various "default positions" ( formerly poorly called flinches ) has been bandied about on the internet for quite some time. There are several good reasons to practice and "ingrain" a default position, while the arguments against this practice lose substance upon examination.

  • A good default position protects your head from several angles simultaneously
  • A good default position prevents you from being knocked over by a charging assault
  • A good default position sets you up for instant offensive retaliation

Now, I have purposely left out discussion involving use against edged weapons attack (for now).

Why a default position?

I have spent many hours talking with SouthNarc about the need for default positions. We both agree that it is EXTREMELY difficult to train most folks to strike someone pre-emptively. Whether the hesitation derives from legal concerns, or simply whether "force" is called for, the fact remains that making the decision to strike "in the field" is usually harder than it seems in training.

Thus, the use of a non-specific "default" position. This serves as a bridge to action, while giving attention to the fact that we may not recognize hostile action as such until a bit too late. Rather than counting on our performance and awareness being perfect, we accept our "humanity" and plan for the worst-case scenario in which we do not act quite quickly enough.

By choosing a posture which forms a protective barrier around the head, we preserve our cognitive functions for the rapid-fire decisions that must be made in the next second. Being unconscious is not a good tactical plan!

By choosing a posture which forms a forward-leaning "plank", we maximize our chances of being able to keep our balance and stance. This means that your torso is angled forward. In turn, we are then able to launch our counter-attack more quickly, since we have somewhat of a stable base from which to operate.

Once the position is chosen, we than work out the problems of how to swiftly begin an offensive barrage. Often, because of the proximity in which these positions are used, the offensive rally consists of close-quarters tactics. Knees, elbows, chin jabs, gouges, biting, and clinchfighting are prime examples. As I previously mentioned, I am purposely omitting weapons presentation, usage, and defense-against FOR NOW.

The default position may be used to "crash" forward into an opponent when space/time allows. Forward momentum amplifies the effectiveness of the position, and can be a deciding factor in a fight. You may also "ride back" an incoming charge by the attacker, so that your balance is not greatly upset, and immediately launch your own attack on your terms. Being able to gauge the incoming energy of an attack is probably the most difficult portion of this skill to master, requiring enough repetitive practice to fully understand your personal needs as to balance and space. Practice also allows you to fine-tune your position to achieve the best rigidity to withstand incoming force.

The now-infamous scenario wherein the beggar asks for spare change, the time, or gas money comes to mind. Truly, most of these fellows aren't rip-off artists (although they should ALL be considered as such!), so the natural reaction is typically to not pre-emptively strike them. Verbal refusals, the "fence", and creating space are most often employed as tactics in this case. However, the opportunity does exist for these folks to encroach too quickly for many folks to react with a well-chosen strike. Now, the "default" position comes into full play. We minimize our damage while flipping the switch from "cautiously optimistic" to "all-out berserk". The relief of not having to be absolutely perfect at all times is very refreshing!

Remember, we have probably not had the luxury of studying films of the beggar's recent fights, so we won't have a great idea of exactly what he might try. We have to improvise with a "wide-spectrum antibiotic", and then pinpoint the exact germ later!

Notice that this post has not been concerned with WHICH default position to use. There are several variations extant, most containing the pre-requisite necessities to form a valid structure. Ultimately, YOU must experiment with the various options and go on your gut as to which serves you best. Your personality, physicality, and preferred fighting style all become critical factors as to what tactic will "fit" you.

I would encourage discussion and questions about this topic in new threads here! Participating in the development of a more-defined methodology for default positions will be a truly great project!

You can contact Lee Aldridge care of his site:  http://www.fightingconcepts.com



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