Crossing the Line (diary entry)


With gradings proposed for junior students in February we got straight back onto self-defence basics. For new readers, I define self-defence as the physical “hard” skills section of self-protection. The frontline of this area is the concept of the “fence”. In essence this is the protective parameter we give ourselves and we use to allow us to pre-empt a would-be attacker. Given the fact the few people in the developed world will actually face extreme physical violence, the concept of the fence can feel quite alien. It is a very natural tactic and most experienced fighters will do it without ever receiving any formal training. It is a type of behaviour and although very simple, can take a while to instil and should be integrated into regular behaviour for it to work. In short, if are not switched on about your surroundings and situation then you will not use the fence.

We began this section with some role-play. Students worked the fence against deceptive and aggressive approaches. This is always the hardest part for most people. Many find it a little embarrassing to replicate a confrontational situation. I have students were amazing once matters got physical, but they just couldn’t summon the courage or control to be able to tell someone to back off. Role-play helps condition the person holding the fence against verbal assaults – be they outright aggression and posturing or deception. Once role-play and distancing was confirmed we aimed strikes. This was done as a muscle memory exercise. As soon as the leading fence hand – the “sensory tentacle” – was touched by the threat the rear hand was loosed to its target. The key objective here is to eliminate delay.

The class then moved onto western boxing to look at developing power and form for the cross. This was done as part of the basic jab/cross combination. A jab nicely sets up the principle of delivering a fast and powerful cross. More now than ever I am exploring the importance of withdrawing the hand. Not only does this help better recovery/defence, but it also increases elastic force. We also looked at how the jab shares the same principle as the fence.

Next we focused on the cross alone, training whilst transitioning through postures. This is a good form of resistance training; you strike from standing, combat base, butterfly guard and the back, which forces you to recruit more muscles to maintain power.

After the pad-work, we had three rounds of MMA sparring. Despite the Christmas break, sparring was quite impressive. There were some excellent exchanges at the various different ranges. The class finished with some shadow boxing and specific exercises, including the triangle shoulder stand, which is really coming on. Several students can do this unsupported with straight backs and legs perfectly locked in the triangle hold.   

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