Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Loren Christensen - No Stance as a Stance

No Stance as a Stance

by Loren Christensen

“Assume your fighting stance.”

Those four words can be found or heard in most instructional books, DVDs, and classrooms, whether the subject is empty-hands martial arts, knife fighting, or firearms. The assumption is that readers and students are going to form, with minor variations, a stance in which the hands are up, the feet are staggered, and the body is angled.

So is this position — let’s call it “the classic” — the only fighting stance?

Of course not, and I’m sure most fighters know this. The problem, though, is that the classic is most often the default training stance. But here is the irony: it’s the one position you’re least likely to assume in a real self-defense situation.

Based on the countless, violent street encounters I have witnessed, investigated, and participated in after nearly 30 years in law enforcement, the likelihood is that you’re going to begin your defense when you’re sitting, lying down, leaning against something, standing casually, kneeling on one knee, or walking.

Think about your typical day. Do you

  • stand or sit in a subway or bus?
  • lean your shoulder or back against something?
  • sit behind a desk at work or school?
  • sit or stand behind a machine in a manufacturing plant?
  • sit on a park bench?
  • sit in a coffee joint or bar?
  • wait for your significant other while seated in your car?
  • lie in the grass at the park??
  • walk to your front door with your arms loaded with packages?

In my experience as a witness, investigator, and a target, these are typical scenarios and positions in which people are beaten and robbed.

On those occasions when the victims were able to fight back, never once did they tell me, “Well, I assumed a fighting stance and began moving about in a sparring mode.” Instead, they defended themselves from whatever position they were in when their day suddenly took a 180-degree turn for the worse.

By the way, most of these victims lost and lost badly, partly because they were not trained fighters and partly because their positions at the moment of the attack put them at a significant disadvantage.

Sometimes an assailant will attack when the victim just happens to be in one of these positions. Other times, a smart assailant will deliberately attack when such vulnerability presents itself.

Your job is to train for any type of an attack from any position. Instead of assuming the classic on-guard stance, assume sitting in a chair, or kneeling on one knee as you tie your shoe, or scooting halfway out of your car. Train until such positions are no longer moments of weakness. In short, train until these less-than-desirable positions are fighting stances.

Oh, and work on blocking from these positions, too.

Loren was a military policeman in Saigon during the Vietnam War and retired from the Portland, Oregon, Police Department after more than two decades of service. He can be contacted through his website at


My sincerest gratitude to Loren Christensen for his kind permission in reposting his article to my site.

For other Loren Christensen posts, please check out:



back to top
Stickgrappler's Sojourn of Septillion Steps