Eye Placement: A Key Element To Confrontational Preparedness

The grey wolf, like all other animals in the wild, needs no instruction in order to keep his eyes on any living thing that comes near! Nor will an animal avert his glance or turn his back so long as the slightest possibility exists that he may need to act against whatever may have come his way.

The grey wolf, like all other animals in the wild, needs no instruction in order to keep his eyes on any living thing that comes near! Nor will an animal avert his glance or turn his back so long as the slightest possibility exists that he may need to act against whatever may have come his way.

TECHNIQUES of unarmed or armed close combat that entail taking your eyes of your potential or actual adversary (by averting your eyes, turning your back, etc.) are not to be used in dangerous situations. They invite disaster, and they violate one of the cardinal rules of close combat and self-defense: i.e. Always keep your eyes on your opponent. Pat O’Neill invariably emphasized to his students in the First Special Service Force: “Never turn your back on an enemy!”

The first rule concerning eye placement may be stated plainly and simply: Never take your eyes off your enemy, or off a stranger with whom you are interfacing.

Animals know this intuitively. Nature has properly programmed them. Try sneaking up on any undomesticated animal (or most domesticated animals, for that matter). The creature will either run or face you. Whatever else that animal may have been doing, when another living creature approaches him, he turns or he raises his head and he LOOKS at that creature. He will continue to do so. He will not be distracted. And — once aware of your presence — the animal will continue to maintain eye contact so long as you remain in his vicinity. (Well, someone is certain to bring up the ostrich, but we have been told by someone who knows more about animals than we do, that if you approach an ostrich in the wild he will run. As to why the silly thing occasionally buries his head in the sand we cannot say).

Humans, unfortunately, do not possess the intuitive survival mechanism that has been instilled and kept alive in so-called “wild” animals. Humans must learn good defensive, protective, survival, and combative tactics. And one of the first and foremost is: Do not take your eyes off a stranger who approaches you, or any individual who clearly poses a threat. Regrettably, a large number of people will avert their eyes in a potential emergency — apparently hoping that if they do not see it and confront it, it will go away. It won’t. So make eye placement and contact a priority in your practice of preparing for self-defense emergencies!

NEVER avert your eyes. Remain properly distanced with your eyes on your opponent's (or presumed opponent's) face. Should close in distancing occur without the immediate need to drop the individual, then shift eyes to his sternum area.

NEVER avert your eyes. Remain properly distanced with your eyes on your opponent's (or presumed opponent's) face. Should close in distancing occur without the immediate need to drop the individual, then shift eyes to his sternum area.

RECENTLY we received a very interesting e-mail from former Army Special Forces Vietnam veteran/LAPD veteran/ICMAF Associate Teacher(5th Degree Black Belt) James R. Jarrett. James presented a valuable piece of information that we wish to pass on, and that we shall henceforth, after carefully considering its application for personal defense, integrate into our teaching. James Jarrett has had plenty of first hand street confrontational experience as a Los Angeles police officer. He is, in addition, a protégé of the legendary Robert J. Koga. James’ orientation — like our own — is the REAL WORLD, not the dojo or the sports arena.

As our students know we are adamant about establishing and maintaining outside-of-arm’s-reach distance whenever confronting any unknown person. At proper distance you should rest your eyes on the individual’s face. Now, your peripheral vision enables you to pick up any movement, no matter how slight, that the individual makes with any part of his body. Your visual perception encompasses all of him. Until or unless the person whom you are facing commences an aggressive movement toward you, indicating the onset of an attack (in which case you preempt him, immediately) you simply maintain your distance via correct footwork, and you keep your eyes on his face. You should of course be off-angled in a proper relaxed ready stance.

The above remains our established doctrine. However, thanks to James Jarrett’s valuable input we now feel that we can improve our students’ readiness to drop a foe should the particularly sticky situation arise in which the individual, for whatever reason, is able to move in very close to us, and we are unconvinced that this approach justifies our preemptive attack. This might occur, for example, in cramped quarters (elevator, hallway, office, restaurant, etc.) where a stranger may in fact move or be uncomfortably near to us, but possibly due to circumstances other than any intended preparation to launch a violent attack.

First of all GET TO MENTAL CONDITION “ORANGE” and do it immediately. Close proximity to any unknown human being should see you in the highest mental state of readiness “just in case” (however remote that case may appear to be).

Accompanying this heightened state of mental readiness to act should be the adjustment of your eye placement, as James Jarrett advises, so that you are looking at his STERNUM area. When a person intrudes into your “space” having your eyes there (as opposed to keeping them on his face) enables you to more effectively perceive any initiation of hostility by his hands or feet.

Now, in reality, this will probably be a most helpful tip for law enforcement and related types when interaction with suspects is necessary. The police officers’ job is to look for trouble, and he is constantly initiating approaches or subjecting himself to the approach of others who may very well be dangerously aggressive. The private citizen, on the other hand will himself be approached, and in the overwhelming majority of instances he will be able to take the initiative and establish and maintain proper distance from whoever he may be facing. Still, for those times when a stranger moves inside one’s protective perimeter, we believe that James Jarrett’s advice to keep eyes leveled on the person’s sternum area is excellent tactical advice.

(Note: While not a close combat site, James R. Jarrett’s farriderjournal.blogspot.com is a gem of excellent writing and social and other commentary. We suggest you treat yourself to this man’s wisdom and insight).

We hope that this piece of tactical information will be effectively integrated into your training.

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