The Importance of a Fighting Structure for Defense

Violent situations happen quickly. When there is a threat, one choice is to try to de-escalate it. If you do choose to do this, your body language will say more than the words coming out of your mouth. Especially if it is at a loud venue, where hearing is difficult, the cues we give with our body can speak volumes.

If you’ve read any of my past work, you know that all of this is academic if you don’t practice it. One of my pet peeves is people who will read something on a topic, and even agree with it, but won’t train it. You must align the tactile senses with the others. In short, you have to just do it. Will you look weird? Yes. Will you feel awkward at first? Of course. But it is better to feel those things before a situation really goes down. I always tell my students to make mistakes in training, so you won’t out in the real world.

That is why something as simple as how we stand, where we put our arms and when we move is critically important. That is why in this article I want to quickly cover how to defensively stand when a threat approaches us. Then, next month, we’ll get into the offensive transition.

Therefore, the goal here is to not only de-escalate an intense situation, but to prepare ourselves for defense. Taking a handful of steps to ensure both de-escalation and defense is possible, as once again training is the key to make sure you’re doing it. Here is a quick checklist you can run through, and integrate into your training to make sure everything flows smoothly.

The first step to both de-escalate and prepare for defense is to gain distance. Taking a step back gives you a couple things all at once. First, it widens your peripheral vision, and allows you to see more of the “playing field”, as I call it. You can see more of the threat in front of you, and also options for possible improvised weapons and exits.

Next we work from the bottom on up, meaning your stance should be bladed, with bent knees. Which leg steps forward is up to you, as some people feel more comfortable with a strong hand lead, but then others like a standard boxing stance, where the power hand is in the back. If you do carry a weapon, whether it is a firearm or tactical folder, that should come into play as well, and should be on the backside. This bladed stance, gives us the ability to not only protect more of our body, but move quickly forwards and backwards.

Heading up the body, your arms can and should be held high, with a submissive posture. Don’t let this fool you, as putting your hands high can both show the “calm down” or “I don’t want any problems” signal, but also put our hands high to protect our face in case of an attack. They are also high, so we can strike back quick and efficiently.

Lastly the look on our face has to be congruent with the message we want to communicate. If you’re trying to de-escalate, there should not be a look of anger or annoyance, but one of “apology”. Gritting our teeth, squinting our eyes and frowning is the exact opposite of what we want to convey, so practice relaxing your face muscles in the mirror.

“What” we say is a challenge to talk about in this article, because it can vary greatly, depending on the situation. If you bump into someone who then spills their drink, saying “I am so sorry, let me buy you another” would be specific on how to de-escalate that particular situation. On the other hand if someone aggressive comes up to you, calls you a dozen names, and is irate and wants something of yours, replying with “Hey man, I don’t want any trouble, my brother is a cop and I don’t have anything of value on me”, might be the best thing to say.

Role playing while you spar is something you must do to ensure you can deal with this multi tasking while you’re breathing hard, under stress and have adrenaline pumping through your system. Having your partner set up several different scenarios is not only key to making you more effective, but also fun, as the variety keeps things new and fresh.

To get an even better picture of this stance, check out this video I made walking you through the process:

Sifu Matt Numrich

Sifu Matt Numrich is a martial artist and self-defense expert, renowned for his training in Krav Maga, Jeet Kune Do and Filipino Martial Arts.