Don’t Get Into A “Fighting Stance”!

WE have cautioned many people over the years about the hazards of utilizing formalistic fighting stances and squaring off with an enemy in close combat or self-defense. Combat is not sport! The last thing in the world you want to do is combine wasting time with warning your opponent when you must handle an aggressor.

Fighting stances are fine – even necessary – in competitive matches. This is because opponents are not engaged in combat, but are sportsmen; and sportsmen strive to equalize matters so that a clear victory can be ascertained based upon whatever body of skills has been agreed upon as the competitive medium. Not so in combat.

COMPETITIVE MATCHES, NO MATTER WHAT CLAIMS ARE MADE FOR THEM AND REGARDLESS OF WHICH TYPE OF METHODS ARE USED TO COMPETE, ARE UNLIKE ACTUAL ENGAGEMENTS WITH REAL ENEMIES IN COMBAT. SQUARING OFF IN A STANCE MAKES PERFECT SENSE IN A SPORT IT WASTES TIME AND TELEGRAPHS YOUR INTENTIONS IN THE REAL WORLD.

COMPETITIVE MATCHES, NO MATTER WHAT CLAIMS ARE MADE FOR THEM AND REGARDLESS OF WHICH TYPE OF METHODS ARE USED TO COMPETE, ARE UNLIKE ACTUAL ENGAGEMENTS WITH REAL ENEMIES IN COMBAT. SQUARING OFF IN A STANCE MAKES PERFECT SENSE IN A SPORT IT WASTES TIME AND TELEGRAPHS YOUR INTENTIONS IN THE REAL WORLD.

A self-defense emergency is a fight for survival. No rules. No fair play. No effort to be sporting or even decent. Just win! The cost of losing is too high.

Since an attacker can be, literally, anyone, it behooves the student of practical combatives to master the habit of always assuming what we call a “Relaxed-Ready Stance” upon the approach of any unknown person — or any person known to be a troublemaker. While maintaining a distance outside arm’s reach, off-angle yourself so that you are not facing the other person head on. Have hands relaxed, held comfortably and non-menacingly at your sternum level. You should never be below mental condition yellow, and you must always be in orange if you so much as have a suspicion of impending trouble.

Now you are ready to attack. You need no other stance or position. You are on the launching pad, and all systems are “Go!”; but whoever is facing you does not know that. Thus you enjoy the element of surprise. (No one is “surprised” when his intended victim assumes a fighting stance. Instead, he is warned).

Should your opponent now initiate violence you are fully prepared to beat him to the draw and slam home your own preemptive attack. Ditto if your opponent assumes a fighting stance! Remember: taking a fighting stance is tantamount to starting an attack, so . . . attack the very second you observe your man getting into a stance! Attack him AS he is assuming his stance.

All who hail from a background of any of the karate systems (Chinese, Korean, Thai, Okinawan, Japanese, etc.) have been conditioned to learn, develop, work incessantly on, and always strive to utilize, quite elaborate stances. A complete waste for practical self-defense.

FORMALIZED KARATE STANCES LOOK DRAMATIC AND IMPRESSIVE. WHILE OKAY FOR ART'S SAKE, THEY ARE NOT ADVISABLE IN HAND-TO-HAND COMBAT.

FORMALIZED KARATE STANCES LOOK DRAMATIC AND IMPRESSIVE. WHILE OKAY FOR ART'S SAKE, THEY ARE NOT ADVISABLE IN HAND-TO-HAND COMBAT.

Get a stop watch. Ask a friend who is a longtime student of any martial art (classical/traditional or sporting/competitive) to get into his favorite or pet fighting stance. Time him. How long did it take? One second? Two? Something between? Longer? Then have him time your full force untelegraphed front kick, side kick, handaxe chop, or chinjab smash, delivered from your relaxed but ready off-angled preliminary position. It will be obvious to you that you can easily launch a powerful and destructive blow in less time than it takes to merely assume (let alone attack from) a formalized “fighting stance”.

With serious, hard practice of several months duration you should be able to blast through your opponent with an attack combination in which two or more devastating blows are delivered, in less time than it takes for him to assume a formal “fighting stance”.

Anyone training for sport or classical/traditional art’s sake need pay no attention to our admonitions here. We are not trying to stop classicists from being classical or sportsmen from being sporting; we are simply trying to describe how a dangerous adversary in an actual combat situation may best be dealt with.

IN CLASSICAL TRAINING, WHERE THE OPPONENT ALSO AGREES TO USE RIGID STANCE POSITIONS, AND "ATTACK" IN A FORMALIZED (BUT UTTERLY UNREALISTIC) MANNER, TRADITIONAL STANCES ARE FINE. JUST DON'T TRY THEM IN COMBAT!

IN CLASSICAL TRAINING, WHERE THE OPPONENT ALSO AGREES TO USE RIGID STANCE POSITIONS, AND "ATTACK" IN A FORMALIZED (BUT UTTERLY UNREALISTIC) MANNER, TRADITIONAL STANCES ARE FINE. JUST DON'T TRY THEM IN COMBAT!

Consider what we say here, we speak from more than half a century’s experience, training, research, and studies.

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