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Self-defense in tight spaces

Self-defense in tight spaces

Self-defense in tight spaces, 9 drills to learn how to defend yourself in tight spaces.

Aggression is often imagined with an idea of false space.

Usually the attacks take place in very limited and narrow spaces also to avoid the probable escape of the chosen victim or you are threatened and forced into a corner to block your probable escape, or between two cars, in the disco in the middle of the tables, etc.

One workspace I’ve created to do self-defense workouts is the black box,a square with walls covered in EVA material and with the 4 cm on the ground of 2.5 meters in size by 2.5 meters closed on all sides where to do sparring both standing and on the ground.

The narrow size makes the fight complex and very tight and it is easy to find yourself crushed against the walls.

Self-defense in tight spaces

Effective personal defense in a confined space essentially comes from two abilities:

1 – The ability to strike (defend) from a defined point such as, for example, a desk in a small office, from inside the car, behind a pole, etc.

2 – The ability to strike (defend) without the full use of your body’s movements such as having a slight restriction (you can’t or can’t get rid of something you’re carrying, etc.) to be able to move only part of your body (if you’re restrained, crushed on a sofa or against the wall, etc.).

Based on these two conditions there are a number of exercises to train in a condition of restriction, it is one of the sequences of exercises that I use during sessions to prepare people for real situations.

tight spaces

9 drills you can do in tight spaces

(Put the full protections and proceed in stages)


Drill 1: Kicks and punches against the wall

Standing with your back against the wall and your training partner kicks and moves by dodging the kick but keeping full contact with the wall.

Because in addition to kicking, bring your training partner closer and do sparring in this way, avoiding and dodging his punches without breaking contact with the wall.

Then you have to progress in the difficulty by putting yourself on your knees and avoid from this position kicks and punches while sitting in half, then sitting completely then in the even more limiting position lying with your side against the wall.

Clearly these are complicated conditions but the goal is to understand the possibilities and strategies in those conditions.

It’s not something simple.

It can happen that you have been knocked to the ground near a wall or slammed into the wall and that the attacker is trying to kick you, you need to learn strategies and skills from the ground to survive.

Ps. Those who pull the shots should also pay attention to the distance from the target to avoid hitting the wall with the blows with the risk of causing themselves injuries.

Drill 2: Dodge and Project or Escape

With your back against the wall avoid punches and kicks and takes from your training partner.

Now as soon as you manage you should run away without getting caught and if you can project your training partner without ever breaking contact with the wall.

Now do the same drill with your training partner but this time with two attackers who punch and kick your couple and then reverse you.

So proceed to stand side by side with your training partner.

Avoid punches, kicks and grips from both sides.

Put down both attackers without interrupting shoulder and arm contact with your partner.

This gives you the very useful ability to work only with one side of the body.

For example, if you have a child by your side and whereas normally if you’re alone you might run away from the threat, now you can’t.


Drill No. 3: Fall on yourself

Basically you have to descend with a rotation like a rope that wraps on itself, going away or going to look for the legs of your opponent to break down the base and unload the strength of his blows.

This allows you to stay in the same spot while the rotation allows you to dodge your attacker’s punches and kicks but this approach actually requires a high level of awareness of what you are doing because instead of escaping instinctively jumping from a threat, it’s not easy to stay in one spot, twist on yourself and go down.

It’s something that those who practice the fight can do more easily.

Ps. You saw what Ferguson did in his fight against Pettis, in UFC 229, look at how he emerges from a complicated situation of Pettis’ tight assault.


Drill 4: Roll

Roll by making full turns in an open area then then then roll next to a chair or table, objects of a room.

Roll forward to a wall and back to the opposite side coming as close to the wall as possible.

This teaches you to adjust and change direction as you roll in front of an obstacle.

For example, in a real environment you may need to roll towards a glass window or a piece of furniture and not want to slam your legs or avoid hitting a person you are rolling with.

Example falling into a fight can be less dangerous to get out of it by rolling than trying to get up in the middle of the chaos, it may be more useful to get away. Also rolling and not standing still also allows you not to be a fixed point to hit or step on.

Ps. I tell you about my own personal experience where I had a fight with a guy I think “overwhelmed” in a local who attacked me with a punch for no apparent reason and to avoid grains I avoided hitting him but I kept him stuck in a triangle from the mount position and passed out but as soon as he lost consciousness I felt grabbed my jacket from behind and I did not bother to turn around but I dived doing a somersault doing a somersault forward beyond a sofa before turning around, luckily it was the bouncer who grabbed my jacket, but when you can’t get away.

tight spaces

Drill 5: Push against the wall

Start from a half-step distance from the wall with your shoulders and your training partner pushes you against the wall and you try to control the impact by rolling the contact of the wall from one shoulder blade to another.

Try it first in a vacuum, then with a slight thrust,

So, walk away half a step and look at the wall.

Your training partner pushes you against the wall and you control the impact. Start by using your hands to avoid the impact but then try to keep your hands down and use your chest just to contact the wall.

This exercise develops the mobility of your trunk, shoulders and rib cage that can be useful if you are held by the arms or tied, or crushed to find the space of movement and to do this you will need the ability to move the axes of your body relative to the head also to move it away from an impact against the wall in case of a push.


Drill No. 6: Sensitivity against moving supports

Back to back with your partner (if you’ve never worked in this position before, do a few rounds first by going around in contact to get used to before drilling).

Imagine being with a friend of yours and being surrounded. The “game” consists of avoiding kicks from another opponent without interrupting back-to-back contact with your partner, then once you have become familiar with the distance of football tries with the average distance, while the attacker throws punches at you.

This drill develops your sensitivity to the movements of another person or object and teaches you not to rely on any fixed points that I support you.

Practical in a setting like the one you hide behind a car, leaning on it and the car that starts to move, or a person who takes shelter behind you and remains leaning, etc.

Ps. Beware of the head-to-head between training partners!


Drill No. 7: Free from the pressure against the wall

In this drill you have to keep your back against the wall and your training partner keeps your wrists and you have to get rid of your partner’s grips without breaking the contact with the wall, then continues to free yourself from the sockets on the elbows, then on the shoulders, then to the throat and etc. completely stuck against the wall.

This exercise serves to acquire and improve skills and is very useful because often attackers try to hold the victim against the wall or against the floor or against the furniture to limit your actions.

Learn how to also use the wall to apply painful pressures that make your grip let go.


Drill 8: Dodge and Project

With your back against the wall, avoid kicks, punches and grips from your partner, then you should try to escape and even put down your partner with a projection without ever breaking contact with the wall.

When you’ve got this drills well with your training partner, proceed with two attackers kicking and punching your pair.

So proceed to stand side by side with your partner.

Avoid kicks, punches and grips coming from both sides.

Put down both attackers without interrupting shoulder and arm contact with your partner.

This gives you the very useful ability to work only with one side of the body.

For example, if you have your fiancée, a wife, a son by your side.

Normally you could run away and move more quickly away from the threat, but now you can’t.


Drill 9: In the crowd

This drill consists of working in the crowd in pairs.

Put the full protections. Start the first round with each pair who are just a step away from any other pair.

Practice sparring of kicks and punches, the first round only striking then striking and take down passing when given the command by the striking to the standing fight phase with the purpose of taking down with your training partner, do all this trying to avoid contact with other couples in the gym.

When you end up on the ground you stop and stand up and continue.

Switch to the same training setting, but now just one step away from the other couples.

Keep in the distance closer and closer until you have “crowd contact.”

This mode is useful to further improve the ability to manage the presence of multiple people in a crowd, in a brawl and for the presence of objects because people’s positions and actions in a crowd are constantly changing, unpredictable and accelerated.



For effective defense in a confined space, it is critical that you evaluate the situation to take advantage of the environment that will have advantages and disadvantages.

All items around you can be obstacles and impediments if you slam them, but they can also be very useful and that you can use as a cover, be used as weapons or used to slam the attacker.

For example, it’s good to use a wall to protect your back, but make sure you don’t hit your head against it, or use the wall to push parts of your attacker’s body against the wall.

Ps. A nice way to capture and improve space awareness is to look around you and quickly memorize your surroundings, then close your eyes and walk at various speeds without bumping into any object. This is a useful exercise that you can do in many situations.

When you go somewhere, get used to observing the environment, to get used to immediately viewing locations and objects that you can use to your advantage, escape routes, etc.

Remember that distances are very short when working in confined spaces, so all movements will happen quickly.

The clash is very tight and with short distances, this must make you understand that in case there are cutting weapons and little room for movement makes the work very complex that requires a lot of practice and awareness to develop the right strategies.

It is very important to keep the body relaxed and free to be able to move every part of the body regardless of everything.

Personal defense must also be trained in tight spaces, trained in tight spaces!

Stay Tuned!

Street Fight Mentality


Con una passione per la difesa personale e gli sport da combattimento, mi distinguo come praticante e fervente cultore e ricercatore sulle metodologie di allenamento e strategie di combattimento. La mia esperienza abbraccia un vasto panorama di discipline: dal dinamismo del Boxing alla precisione del Muay Thai, dalla tecnica del Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu all'energia del Grappling, dal Combat Submission Wrestling (CSW) all'intensità del Mixed Martial Arts (MMA). Non solo insegno, ma vivo la filosofia di queste arti, affinando costantemente metodi e programmi di allenamento che trascendono il convenzionale. La mia essenza si riflette nell'autodifesa: Filipino Martial Arts (FMA), Dirty Boxing, Silat, l'efficacia del Jeet Kune Do & Kali, l'arte della scherma con coltelli e bastoni, e la tattica delle armi da fuoco. Incarno la filosofia "Street Fight Mentality", un approccio senza fronzoli, diretto e strategico, unito a un "State Of Love And Trust" che bilancia l'intensità con la serenità. Oltre al tatami, la mia curiosità e competenza si spingono verso orizzonti diversi: un blogger professionista con la penna sempre pronta, un bassista dal groove inconfondibile e un artigiano del coltello, dove ogni lama è un racconto di tradizione e innovazione. Questa sinfonia di abilità non solo definisce la mia identità professionale, ma dipinge il ritratto di un individuo che nella diversità trova la sua unica e inconfondibile voce e visione. Street Fight Mentality & Fight Sport! Andrea


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