Results 1 to 1 of 1

Thread: New -- personal research on movement initiation, reacting to 'attack' in self-defense

  1. #1
    Junior Member
    Join Date
    Jul 2013

    Default New -- personal research on movement initiation, reacting to 'attack' in self-defense

    My goal in coming here is to seek assistant on some ideas for how one can react to movement by an (armed) attacker more effectively. I study and teach a group focused on "Combatives & Self-Defense".

    My questions are likely naive but I would greatly appreciate your help if you have some positive ideas....

    It would be useful if science supported some ideas we have discovered but if not then it's better to avoid claiming that so I am seeking you assistance in determining if there is any support -- or even if the scientific consensus would argue against those ideas. (I would rather be accurate than hold mistaken beliefs.)

    If this is not an appropriate questions here, or if there is somewhere better to post this, please advise me.


    Studying Russian Martial Arts (Systema) and other martial arts we have encountered 'masters' who seem to be doing something qualitatively different from other practitioners.

    They seem to move WITH (or even before) the attacker (rather than reacting afterwards), and to find themselves continually in the 'proper spot' to defend effectively with an economy of motion that appears almost magical.

    Recently, during a Systema seminar, an instructor offered a very simple formula for defense that on practice seems to open up the beginning of this ability. For most of the class the instructor suggested that when the partner with the knife 'attacked' that students MERELY place their own hand on the attacker's hand.

    This was not a specific technique, just a placement with only exert enough force to guide the attack from connecting with the defender's body -- i.e., no true block, merely a gently deflection. The deflecting idea was well-known to most students in the class but the simple idea of hand placement was somewhat surprising.

    It worked much better than one would suppose. And for most of the day, the instructor emphasized this simple method.

    Later in the day, the instructor, almost as an aside, suggested "connecting to the attacker's hand" (mentally) as the attack began. He gave no real explanation about what such a mental connection would entail nor how to actually do such a thing.

    Note: The instructor is someone with extreme skill and an uncanny ability to defeat even full speed attacks so SOMETHING he does is different from what those who cannot perform such feats do.

    In any case, I mentally imagined such a connection and the results were encouraging, very encouraging. There seemed to be an immediate jump in my own abilities. (The image is something like having a perfectly elastic string between my hand and the attacker -- when his hand moves my hand does to the same spot by following the tension in the string.)

    Then it occurred to me, on subsequent practice, that it might be useful to CONNECT BEFORE THE ATTACK. On doing this, I and my students all experienced similar (additional) jumps in effective abilities.

    We now seemed to be moving WITH the attack, rather than AFTER the attacker. We did this WITHOUT the typical 'hypervigilance' that one sees when someone is told to 'expect' and 'unexpected' attack (e.g., a surprise attack in a training situation is known to be likely.)

    It just worked.

    So I cast about for some scientific way to explain what seemed almost magical:


    The defender performing the above is engaging three (or more) mental systems which might be (cooperatively) explaining the ability:

    1. Mirror neurons allow the defender to slave movement of the attacker to the defender's own movement, thus connnecting the mental picture of the attacker directly to motor processing thus eliminating any decision on how to move -- just place one's hand on his hand.

    2. The decision to move AND 'how' to move has already been made (slightly different than #1) -- the defender is in some sense already in motion, imitating the attacker or at least his hand movement and thus eliminating any (most?) decisions about WHEN to move. Again, making VISUAL representation more closely connected to PHYSICAL MOVEMENT. The defender has (loosely) slaved his movement to the attacker's movement.

    3. Again, through mirror neurons or some other process, the defender is evoking an internal representation of the attacker which includes "feeling" when the attacker will initiate a movement or where that movement will target. This would mean increased sensitivity to the internal state and intention of the attacker.

    Additional info:

    When practicing, I use the following criteria to judge the success of the method beyond 'does it work as a defense' (it does):

    1. Can I move SLOWER than the attacker? If so, this means that it's possible to keep up with someone who has the advantage of INITIATING the attack and to which we would normally have to REACT.

    2. Do I move SMOOTHLY (not with jerks, or sudden acceleration)? This is related to #1 but distinct. If the attacker moves and I JUMP to catch up that is not the most successful method.

    3. Do I appear (seem) to be in motion at the moment the attacker appears to be in motion? (To myself, the attacker, and to a witness. If there seems to be a delay in the the defender's movement then this is consider evidence that we are not 'connected.')

    Ok, we KNOW it's not magic.

    It's EVIDENT that it works. (Presume this to be true for purposes of discussion.)

    It's EVIDENT that experts do this regularly even if they use some other method. (Presume this to be true for purposes of discussion.)

    What should I read to try to understand this better?

    How does such a thing operate merely (or at least mostly) by changing our attentional focus?

    It could be as simple as this is just a really good way to 'focus attention' but that begs the question of what is really occurring. What is good about focusing attention this way? What do we mean by 'focus attention'? How does this help us move more efficiently and effectively?

    While I would love to come up with a scientifically acceptable answer to our experiences, it's is just as important to make sure we don't even some mythology in an attempt to explain it.

    However, my supposition is that if we UNDERSTOOD the mechanism, we would stand an improved chance to TUNE and IMPROVE our training drills and practice to more effectively utilize our nervous system.

    For those interested: Our self-defense group believes in "pressure testing" and what we call "oppositional workouts" where a technique is NOT deemed usable until it works for an individual at FULL SPEED against an opponent who is "trying to win". We are seeing positive results after only a few practices.

    Herb Martin
    Last edited by HerbM; 07-27-2013 at 02:51 AM.

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts