Pre-Fight Hard Skills (diary entry)


My client moved into hour seven of his self-protection course. This specialised course has been mainly orientated towards conflict management but we are now bridging into self-defence training. We began with accessing exits and tactical escape, gradually progressing the level of difficulty. Next we isolated cornering escapes where I brought in hip-switching and agility training. Then we looked at basic evasive manoeuvring with the upper-body. Here my client under and around my moving arms, constantly moving towards my back. Such behaviour promotes better flanking when posturing and also moving to the strongest position on an adversary.

We then looked at establishing physical boundaries. Because my client has currently highlighted an issue with a work colleague and manipulative touching, we went straight to this low risk scenario responses. We also looked at responded to a shove and a slap. The main point here was establishing boundaries. Whenever one sets a boundary and decides what a violation might be it is crucial to maintain said boundary. Therefore, unwelcome hand, wrist, arm, shoulder and back touches often occur when a boundary hasn’t already been set. The same might be said for space encroachment. These can be dealt with by moving away and then setting the boundary.

Low Level Risk Response Suggestions:

Hand Touch – Withdraw

Wrist Grip – Rotate and release or withdraw (positioning dependent)

Arm – Shrug or withdraw

Shoulder – Shrug or withdraw

Back – Rotate to face and make space

Low risk situations are often mild forms of harassment, general over familiarity, boundary creeping and outright manipulation. These responses can and probably should be done whilst communicating with the offender. Depending on the harassment severity within this bracket, the communication can range from ignoring the boundary violation whilst physically responding to addressing it firmly. No matter how seemingly mild, if the behaviour is repeated at another time the issue should be firmly addressed to the offender.

A set boundary is protected by the fence concept. A fence can be any object used to protect one’s personal space but, for the most part, we train the hands as they will be a constant. Hands are raised in a non-threatening gesture and should drop as soon the possible threat has acknowledged the boundary set, usually within the blink of an eye. Back of the hand is the least threatening gesture and better suited for such low level risks. However, should the offender suddenly become persistent or appears to elevate the risk level in anyway the hand can be quickly turned palm out and the response elevated accordingly.

We did not spend a lot of time dealing with mid-range threats other than the aforementioned shoves, which is what I would class to be a lower-mid-range threat if seen in isolation. This changes if the shove is paired with an immediate secondary action such as the offender moving forward. Taken on its own this is usually a sudden outburst and the offender straight up wants to remove the source of their anger from their space. This is an act of social violence and de-escalation is still very possible. Here the shoved party adopts a subordinate and pacifying gesture where they lower their stance by crouching and raise their hands in supplication for peace. Verbal communication is important here, however, so is establishing the boundary. Where the shove has ceased will now be the line and the fence has taken the form of the pleading hands.

Next lesson we look at pre-emptive striking.