The Five Principles Of Counterattacking

WE must hasten to add: “. . . in the American Combato (Jen•Do•Tao) System” to the title of this article, since these five principles are not in any sense universally taught, agreed upon, or recognized in either the “martial arts” or in many of the so-called “practical defense” courses that are widely taught. We, however, take the position that these principles, which have guided the development of the syllabus of counterattacks (“self-defense techniques”) in our System are essential for self-defense skills to be practicable under extreme, real world conditions:

Always go with the momentum and force that an attacker generates against you, when you have been unable to preempt his initial onslaught,

Always attack the enemy where his attacking action against you has exposed him to injury,

Always keep on attacking. Followup and do not relent until you have eliminated the danger and your attacker is no longer a threat,

Always bring 100% of your strength, speed, focus, effort, and aggressiveness to bear immediately, and continue to go full blast until you have destroyed the enemy,

Never waste time on initial “attacking” actions that pose no threat.

Let’s elaborate on each of these principles.

First, “going with momentum” and using the attacker’s force. This is a commonly recognized principle, and it derives from the Chinese Chin-Na (historically first referred to as “chi-chi-su”, latterly known as ju-jutsu, after the Japanese acquired and copied the Chinese methodology and gave it a Japanese name).

Students and teachers of ju-jutsu will recognize immediately that this principle is emphasized in their Art. However, in American Combato we have adopted it in a somewhat different way than it is commonly employed. We do not attempt to merely redirect the attacker’s force to “discourage” him or to secure any form of restraint and control grip on him. Nor is it our goal to throw him and pin him (or employ a “submission” hold, etc.). We use the momentum  of an attack to generate and augment our own devastating counterattack. For example: An assailant grabs us and pulls us toward him. We use that sudden forward momentum to bolster our attacking actions (knee to testicles, ear box, eye attack, head butt, throat attack, etc.), and once “in” we keep up the attack until we are no longer in any danger.

Any time an attacker catches you off guard and moves against you (assuming that he has not defeated you or killed you outright by his surprise attack) he has provided a very definite thrust of force; a thrust that you can and should utilize to combine with your own initial counterattacking efforts. If he pulls, attack forward. If he pushes, reel backward in balance and attack from that position. If he seizes you from behind in a slamming grip that knocks you into a certain position (possibly lifting you off the ground) attack by using that force and that position that the enemy’s action provides.

Sometimes momentum can be used to allow an attacker to set himself up by off-balancing himself. If, for example he attempts to shove you, sidestep and allow him to overextend himself. Break his knee with a side kick.

Second, “attack the enemy where he is exposed”. By concentrating on attacking you the assailant has unwittingly exposed himself to an attack, since he cannot possibly be concentrating on attacking while at the same time concentrate on protecting himself, and guard his own target areas. You should zero in on whatever vulnerable area of your attacking enemy can be accessed at the moment and — using the closest and most convenient and readily available natural weapon — ferociously attack that vulnerable target. The eyes and the throat head the list of “key targets” in unarmed combat, but the human body has a sufficient number of additional points that are susceptible to devastating injury that you will not be at a loss if — for the moment — you cannot get the enemy’s eyes or throat. Consider: If an enemy seizes you under the arms from the front, you can easily attack his eyes, and there is nothing he can do about it. If he seizes you over the arms from the front his testicles may be attacked; or he may be bitten in the face or neck. If his hands come up preparatory to a fist attack his knee may be broken easily. If his hands drop and he comes in to wrestle, his eyes and throat can be assaulted. Etc. Etc. Etc.

Third, “keep on attacking”. Fairbairn made this critical point (which is actually advised against in many so-called “self-defense” presentations today!) when discussing the need to attack first, whenever possible. It is no less true, however, when you are forced to defend against a surprise attack. Human adversaries can be incredibly difficult to “shut down”. And you must, if you are to prepare realistically and be ready for the real thing, assume in any situation that your adversary is determined, dangerous, ferocious, and will not be stopped easily. So, keep on attacking once you have shifted the situation to one in which you and not your assailant are on the offensive. Stop only when your attacker turns and flees (do not pursue him, unless you are a law enforcement officer), when you can safely escape the scene, or when your attacker has been rendered unable and unwilling to endanger you further (usually this means he is badly crippled or/and unconscious). No counterattack worth considering consists of one or two moves that are assumed to be sufficient to bring a dangerous would-be killer under control.

Fourth, “always go at your assailant 100%”. One of the worst and most self-sabotaging concepts ever to have been introduced into the field of personal defense is that of the “force continuum”. It provides the most dangerous physical attackers with their intended victims’ assistance. The would-be murderer does not (thank heavens!) have the knowledge and the skill with which to assault his victim properly, so when he does attack his action appears to be essentially non-threatening — or at least non life-threatening. The “trained” victim, initially perceiving only an amateurish attack, benevolently attempts a relatively mild defense. And then the attacker escalates immediately and stabs or otherwise lethally continues his onslaught — all too late for the poor victim to adjust to the heightened threat, and “go up a notch or two” on his ridiculous “force continuum”! The rule amongst civilized human beings is: Hands off. Once some extralegal misfit decides that that rule just doesn’t suit him, he has signed his resignation from the human species and he must be dropped where he stands. Do not risk your or a loved one’s maiming or death at the hands of someone who initiates a physical attack. Train in no “self-defense technique” that has you cutting your engine hen you move!

Fifth, ignore and bypass anything that “poses no threat”. Attacks that attempt to choke you obviously must be defeated at once. That club that is being swung at your head must be dealt with now. But how often do we see people training to defeat wrist grabs? Or arm grabs? Or collar and clothing grabs? Etc. As we noted earlier, a murderer will often be unskilled and thus attack initially with an action that is relatively amateurish. But that does not mean that you are not in serious danger! Just remember when that write grab occurs your enemy has tied up his own hand or hands. Break his knee with a side kick! Or kick him in the testicles! Or head butt him! Never mind if your shirt or jacket gets torn when some lout grabs you suddenly. Attack him before he is able to get to the real attack, for which that stupid clothing grab had served as a set-up!

A good counterattack TAKES FULL ADVANTAGE of your enemy’s ineptitude; it does not give him the benefit of some (utterly misplaced) “doubt” that you may have regarding the gravity of the predicament he has cast you into. Your attacker may not know the “best” way to go after you; but you damn well better know the best way to go after HIM.

Over the decades since its inception, the American Combato System has proven itself time and time again — for private citizens, military, and law enforcement professionals who have used it. Whether you are one of our personal students or not we want you to benefit from the principles and concepts that have guided the development and painstaking building of this System. Our stuff works in the real world.

I sincerely hope that you avail yourself of this information and that you find, as a result, that you have acquired a better, more reliable repertoire of “self-defense techniques”. In fact, if you do this, you will likely agree with us and begin to refer to those techniques as counterattacks.

Good luck in your training.

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