SAFE International Self Defense Blog Drill Analysis
I recently posted a video of one of our self defense ground drills that we teach to high school students or anytime we are covering how to defend against an attack on the ground. It received a lot of positive attention so I thought I would break it down in more detail in order to explain what is happening and what we are hoping to see and feel from those participating in the drills. Before we even get to this drill we discuss the importance of avoiding the ground if possible since there are so many disadvantages to being on the ground, with just a few of those disadvantages being that you may be on a surface that is not ground friendly like the mats we train on. You could be on gravel, asphalt, a staircase, or one of many other surfaces that might restrict your movement or increase your chances of physical injury. Next, what if your attacker has friends who may come join the attack with their boots to the head or body. Most often your attacker will be heavier and stronger, so it will take much more than just physical strength or leverage to escape as many say. There are just no good reasons to be on the ground if you can avoid it, BUT you need to train what to do if you have fallen or been taken to the ground so that you can get back on your feet as soon as possible. After you view the video I have some thoughts on how she did.
So we have already completed a few drills before this one and there are drills after, but if your attacker has taken you to the ground and is about to mount you it is best to try and keep your legs between you and the attacker in a turtle position which has many advantages, but I will skip the details of the turtle for this analysis because I was able to catch her off guard and mount her as you will notice.
I must say that most students we do these drills with are quite nervous and anxious not knowing exactly what to expect from the perspective of tactile sensitivity, aggression, or mental stress. Even though they know it is not real, they still go through some level of adrenaline dump which is one of the goals on our end. Now what is interesting is when this young lady came up, her body language was calm, but very confident and somehow I knew she was going to do an excellent job which is why I may have moved faster and harder on her than another student. It is important to know how to read your students so that you can give them an experience in the drills that is challenging, while at the same time not disempowering, with the aim to increase the level of aggression with each subsequent drill to help build their confidence and ability.
Now the quick attack I use does a number of things including bringing them into an immediate position of threat which also surprises her so she is not been able to plan ahead how she will react, making her reaction very honest. Even if she did try to plan what she would do, trying to force any memorized set of techniques will never work with all the variables that may be present including angle I attack her from, level of aggression, language used, environment, so better to integrate the concepts and principles we taught because violence happens in a nano second, it does not wait for you to address it with your memorized techniques.
Next within a split second she targets my face as we teach if the face is low and available. Aiming to out muscle or use leverage on an attacker who is bigger and stronger is rarely going to work so you need to attack the most vulnerable targets which may include the eyes, throat and other secondary targets. Now as an attacker would likely do, if she strikes the eyes my automatic reaction would be to move the face up and out of the way, so she targets low to my groin with goal to bring the head back down. Now some may say I have my hands free and could be hitting her, but you must understand that if I did not have helmet on, my focus would be on protecting my eyes, throat, or other targets particularly because she never slows down giving me any opportunity to recover. Sure, anything is possible, and no strike or shredding attack she does is guaranteed to work, but one has a higher level of success if moving fast and furious with the intensity that she is fighting back. And some may say that I could go harder which is true, but she could also go harder.
Now at about the :08 sec mark she does something that we try to instill in our teaching which is to anchor to the back of the head while attacking the eyes which helps prevent me from moving up to avoid or posting because I would be totally invested in getting her fingers out of my skull. See some think that an eye poke does not work, and it may not, but if you insert your fingers in the eye sockets, the skull as deep as possible, then pull down if possible, you can control the head especially with the hand anchored behind the head. Attacking the eyes this way is your best chance because relying solely on blunt force trauma like strikes in this tight proximity is very limited if you are on the bottom. And as she is attacking the eyes, she does a great headcrank and as we all know, where the head goes, the body follows.
Next while anchored to back of head and fingers inside skull she does an excellent bridge. See just bridging without doing damage will do nothing. And when people say all you need is leverage to beat a bigger, stronger person, I can't disagree more. You need leverage while doing DAMAGE! Now because I had a helmet on I was able to grab her hands, but she struggles to get one free. With both hands grabbed that would be a good time for her to spit cause the stimulus response would be for me to let go. Another girl in her drill, did do a dry spit and I did let go due to the flinch. Now in this drill she strikes and keeps hands in my face, which without the helmet may have been more attacks on the eyes. And while not very hard strikes she is even thinking to deliver knees to my butt which does add to the chaos of me now protecting myself from her. She is performing at a high level compared to many and remember this is after ONLY ABOUT 3 HOURS of instruction, but shows what is possible.
Now when she makes her move to escape, I decide to trip her which may or may not happen. In reality if I did not have helmet, I do not believe it would have gone this long, but we try to incorporate the overkill mentality into the drills. And when she gets up I grab her wrist, and instead of doing some fancy, cute little spin out, she smashes me in the face with her free hand.
NOW THAT IS SELF DEFENSE!!! And most of all the ATTITUDE she had was 90% of her success doing this drill, not the moves she did.
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