In a previously made series of videos, I talked a bit about what one can do in a standing, impact based fight, and gave some tools to stop the fight from turning into anything else. This article will be about, as the title suggest, surviving a fight at close range.
The series has, among other things, tips about attacking at close range, and about escaping some basic grabs, to get back into a position from where you can strike.
One of the things not included in the series is how to defend oneself from strikes at a close distance, and that is the subject this article will attempt to cover, at a more or less fundamental level. Another thing this article will no cover is bladed weapons, for that look to this FREE video mini course.
To defend yourself against strikes at a close distance carries the challenge that the distance between your opponent and you is so short that even relatively slow strikes are too fast for you to react to visually, not to mention that your peripheral vision is often physically limited when up and close with an opponent.
Following are a few tools you can use, and a very short explanation of how you can use them:
Surviving a Fight- Hands
At close range, when you’re not striking, the best place to have your hands is on your opponent.
Twisting at your opponent’s shoulders, pulling and shoving him, keeping your hands on his arms to interrupt any strike before it catches speed, all these are ways to use your hands as a means of impact-defense at a close distance.
The most simple forms of this can be explored very well even without an instructor, together with a partner.
With both of you moving, experiment with your partner’s balance, twisting, pulling and pushing. When you have a basic idea, try having your partner attack you, just enough so that you get a feeling for how to get your hands on him, how to keep them there, and how to move him and stop his movements, without being hit while doing it.
Eventually you’ll find that doing this can also create opportunities to strike back, from a position of advantage.
Now, in order for you to physically move your opponent, you do not need to be stronger than he is. You do however need to be in good balance.
For a more detailed discussion on balance, see this article by Jerry Wetzel:
While your hands are twisting and pulling at your opponent, creating opportunities for you to strike, your forearms are your actual line of defense against incoming strikes.
The point with keeping your hands on your opponent is that you don’t have to go through the long process of visually detecting, identifying and reacting to an attack. You can simply react by feeling, which is often faster in a fight.
Plus, if you have your arms on your opponent’s arms, you’re already in a good position from which to stop or re-direct any sudden movements from your opponent.
Elbows are greatly underestimated, extremely versatile tools. They’re relatively safe to use, very effective as means of attack, grappling-escape or, in this case, close-distance impact-defense.
The concept of using elbows as a tool to close distance impact-defense is simple: Put them between you and the attack.
If a knee is on its way – put your elbow in front of it. If you sense a hook – put an elbow in line with the arm hitting you. If someone throws a kick – elbow it. If someone grabs you with the obvious intention of head-butting you – put an elbow in front of your face, and so on.
For some thoughts on head-butting without risk to yourself, see the following video, by Matt Frost:
The elbow defense applies first and foremost when you do not have your hands on your opponent. It is extremely simple in theory, less simple in reality, as it is with most things, but as with the defense using the hands, much can be learned simply by experimentation and practice with a partner.
Surviving a Fight- Shoulders
One of your last lines of defense are your shoulders, which when raised can protect not only your neck, but your chin, and if you lean your head into it you may even be able to cover the entire side of your head, including your temple and ear, protecting you completely from any strike against the side of your head.
Once this becomes a reflex for you, you will be able to focus your arms and hands more on attach and frontal defense, making you a more efficient fighter.