Front, Back, or Side When Protecting?

by Keith Pascal

When reading the following points, consider yourself the main “protector” of the pair or small group:

1) If you are talking to the person you are with while walking, then you will probably be walking side-to-side, with your friend or loved one at your elbow.

Such a position facilitates conversation.

This position can and should change in an instant, should danger present itself.

2) While walking in a narrower situation, such as on a hiking path, then you will be forced to walk single file. Disregarding the possibility of having to defend on a path, we tend to put the least surefooted in the lead, to set the pace.

This means the one out of shape or the one with an injury would be the first to encounter an attacker on the path. (Unless it’s an ambush, in which case, the attacker waits on the side.)

3) Most martial artists automatically imagine themselves in the lead, but we need to consider some “humorous” advice once given by my teacher, Steve Golden: When walking around a corner, have your wife on the inside; the attacker will meet her first.

This isn’t as bad as it sounds. Think about the actual advantages that you glean if an attacker has to move your lady out of the way to get to you. Or your child, or …

4) When moving through a crowd, if your charge DOESN’T know how to find open pockets of space to make the passage easier, safer, and swifter … then you will have to lead.

5) If you have to defend someone trying togged to the person you are protecting, then you’d also want to be between your loved one and the meanie. (The concept of the attacker having to get through the doorway, past you, in order to reach your friend.)

6) When our daughter was younger, we sandwiched her single file between us on the path. Since my wife knew (knows) martial arts, there was one of us to protect in either direction.

7) Now, that our daughter is 20 yrs old, my wife usually walks side-by-side with our daughter, while I take the initial awareness-protection role.

8) By default, I often lead the pack. Now that there is a boyfriend on the scene … he brings up the rear.

And finally …

9) To me, being in the front is one of those martial arts myths that I have challenged of late.

When I bring up the rear of the pack, I find that I’m just as able as ever to be aware and defend, if need be.

From the back, I get a more panoramic view of what’s ahead.

And … this is key …

If someone were to approach from the front, my wife and daughter automatically know to step out of the way, and let me through to protect.

This belief of mine proved itself last week. The three of us were walking together, we turned the corner, and BAM … there was a news reporter with her cameraman.

She wanted to interview someone coming out of the building.

Automatically, my ladies took one step to the side and then were instantly behind me, forcing me to be the one to be interviewed.

And yes, I was on the evening news at 5:30. 🙂

I’m sure they’d do the same, should an attacker suddenly appear, with the exception of my wife taking a sneak hit when stepping to the side. (Thanks, Kate.)

Keith

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