Reversing the Situation
by Sensei Andy Dominey on January 14th, 2011

So…you have been attacked and you have managed to break the freeze, but what next? You must act decisively but effectively. No point in flailing your arms and landing a grand-total of zero blows only to be back to square one. No, you must assault their body and mind leaving them vulnerable to your counter-attack. Notice how I have separated the assault and the counter-attack. There is a reason for this which I’ll explain.

I believe the word ‘assault’ describes something very primal. There is very little finesse, very little flair, but it’s brutally effective all the same. A counter-attack, however, is much more precise, striking at vital areas or applying a painful arm lock on your opponent. Counter attacks can also be very brutal but herein lies the difference; assaults are very often the result of muscle memory and can occur before the brain is even engaged into the situation. Counter-attacks, however, whilst still being primarily body driven, DO involve conscious thought.

Look at any fight on YouTube and you’ll spot it. The prepared person will pick their target and execute a well-timed and usually effective strike whereas the unprepared person’s strikes will often appear far less coordinated. This is the body trying to survive – a defense mechanism. A moving target is much harder to hit than a static one and someone waving their arms about coming at you is far harder to defend against (or attack for that matter) than someone standing still. Lizards drop their tails, we flail.

Don’t get me wrong, there are worse things to do in an attack than flail – like stand still and accept your fate. But there are far better things too. Martial arts help to develop muscle memory which, in a violent encounter, allow the flailing action to become a far more effective fighting tool. Imagine, instead of the arms waving wildly, each movement is a strike to the opponents body or head. Sure, your fists may not be hitting the best targets but if you are delivering one blow after another, it’s not going to matter; your opponent, in this case, the would-be attacker, will be overwhelmed.

The really effective part of this initial assault is the fact that at the same time you are overwhelming the would-be attacker, you are gaining in confidence yourself. Adrenaline is now working FOR you rather than against. It’s raising your pain threshold, making you faster, helping you hit harder. At the same time, the attackers confidence has been shattered, he is struggling to regain a handle on the situation and fighting to stay on his feet. This is the reversal, this is the assault before the counter-attack.

To train yourself in this way though, is easier said than done. As humans and especially as martial artists, most of us gain a profound respect for human life and assaulting someone in this way, even if they are threatening our existence, is contrary to everything we have been taught.

In nature, animals truly fight (I’m not referring to play-fighting or roughhousing here) only when they have to to protect their land, their family or their food. But when they do fight, they fight without fear of consequence, without conscience and without pity or respect. These things cloud judgment in a fight and can lead to only one thing…death. We must fight only if there is no other alternative, but if we must fight it should be ‘in the moment’ without regard to what remains after the dust settles…

Posted in Conflict    Tagged with Karate, Conflict, Mental Block, Freeze, Fight, Battle


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