Guard position in the run-up to an attack

Guard position

In the early stages of physical aggression, an appropriate guard position can be a decisive factor in resolving the situation.

Let’s go to deal with the practical aspects of a technical, psychological and legal nature.

Often the question arises, especially among martial arts enthusiasts, the dilemma as to which position of guard is most suitable in the imminence of an attack.

Here, too, there is something for all tastes:

  • Filipino boxers and styles
    present themselves with the classic pose with fists raised to cover the face, with legs slightly flexed, very mobile and quick in movements.
  • Practitioners struggle with their approach with advanced hands and feet resting on the ground in full to have a low center of gravity
  • The Practitioners of Muay Thai with an advanced high guard and the high center of gravity with the heel raised.
  • The Oriental martial artists, of Japanese school with the classic positions of Kiba dachi: position of the knight (some add “iron”),
  • Or the martialists who practice Chinese arts in the form of their style,
  • Wing Chung practitioners in their typical guard, Man-sao, Wu-sao — > Man Sao (“looking hand”), the most advanced hand, Wu Sao (“hand protecting”), the backhand
  • Etc.

Ps. There are also those who resort to the more or less imaginative poses that certain filmography has made us familiar.

Everyone obviously tends to support the goodness of their approach by motivating it more or less technically, but speaking of self-defense the position of the guard in the imminence of an attack is something different, it’s a hidden guard, otherwise it’s better to attack immediately because to warn someone the only thing you’re communicating and understand is that you want to fight.

What you have to understand, however, is that the guard position is a fundamental element,capable in some cases of deciding the fate of an aggression, for example by dissuading the energetic from proceeding in its intentions or putting yourself in the condition of not being surprised by a sudden attack.

Guard position

The guard position in the run-up to an attack consists of two aspects:

  • Technical
  • Psychological

both aspects you have to study them in every detail.


The technical aspect:

A guard position, whatever it may be, is intended to make it easy to execute the various techniques, the various movements or, if you prefer, to be able to execute all the offensive and defensive tactics that you are capable of implementing.

That’s why the boxer, who uses only his fists to strike, puts himself in that pose functional to the type of action he has to perform.

The Muay Thai practitioner prefers a posture with a higher center of gravity, conducive to the use of kicks.

Brazilian practitioner Jiu Jitsu prefers a lower-centered posture that favors the use of projections.

Additional elements that determine the guard position, are the maintenance of balance (essential to withstand an attack), the necessary mobility (essential to attack and dodge) and the protection of vital points of the body.

Thus, depending on the discipline learned, the martialists will opt for a mobile and relatively upright position (for example, as the “high” guard of boxers) or at the opposite extreme for a stiffer position, with a very low center of gravity, as in the Karate Shotokan, where the great mobility of the footwork with shots in combination of the boxer prefers to resort to single and devastating shots with his arms and legs.


The psychological aspect:

The guard position is the representation in terms of body language of our being ready to react, and to be able to do it technically effectively.

Summary, you want to fight!

Speaking of self-defense the question you have to ask is the following:

“If you find yourself in the imminence of aggression, is it useful and appropriate to assume a combat pose, inspired by a traditional martial art?”

The answer is NO!! , for both psychological and technical reasons.

The first consideration to be made is in terms of adequacy to the context and scenario typical of an aggression.

The road is not the gym.

One thing is to do sparring or kumite within the secure walls of the gym, one thing is to face a devious and changing character like a modern aggressor.

It’s a world without rules, where the only thing you need to know is… that there are no rules.


Guard position in the run-up to an attack Fighting Tips - Street Fight Mentality & Fight Sport

It is not said that you are challenged openly by your executioner, that could approach with a pretext and then strike you in treason, or he could argue with you and hit you a moment after telling you that he does not want to fight!.

Whether you are challenged in a single tenzone or not, whether you are approached with suspicion, reacting by posing as a combat is harmful for a number of reasons.

Automatically raises the level of the clash, favoring an escalation and therefore the bloody outcome.

If someone comes up to you to fight and you immediately pose as a boxer, with your fists well in sight, automatically the other will feel challenged and a banal verbal skirmish will turn into a fight.

Worse still for people who do not possess any technical martial preparation, they pose at Bruce Lee just because they saw him do it at the cinema.

Crazy, it’s like showing up at a shootout with a toy gun.

Women who practice martial arts are particularly at risk, from this point of view, as the harasser, or the would-be rapist just met, could grasp the aspect of defiance communicated by a combat pose, in terms of provocation on the level of his own manly ego, thus attacking with all the force that he is capable of because in front of you you do not have a person well and maybe he is one who likes to beat women , it pleases her, fills her ego.

There is also an aspect of inadequacy to the regulatory environment to take into account because as you know, witnesses (if there are) almost never intervene in defense of those who need it.

The police, for their part, in case of intervening, one of the first things it does is to identify those present in order to collect their version of the facts. Imagine what happens if one of these witnesses says “well, at some point that one there warned himself like Mike Tyson and punched him…”, in the end you become the aggressor!.

One of the feelings I feel, in these cases, is that in the eyes of the Law no one is more uninviated than the citizen who defends himself against a criminal: more than the articles of the Code of Criminal Procedure that regulate the legitimate defense, what surprises most is the restrictive interpretation that tends to give judges and magistrates.

It is never that it is discovered that the one who defended himself practice martial arts: the judge or magistrate, would jump in the chair asking why never, having such training, did not render harmless the attacker with a slight twist of the arm, instead knocking him to the mat with a fist on the chin.

So the position of street guard, which even somehow
you need
to hire, must meet a number of more needs than what happens in the gym.

Martial arts generally do not offer convincing solutions, although the Jeet Kune Do and the Krav Maga, which has been becoming fashionable in recent years, seems at least to consider the problem.

These martial arts or systems that are proposed as methods of street combat (although in the case of the Krav Maga its origins are military type) provide for both but in the case of the Jeet Kune Do is the first guard that is taught, a position of sneaky and deceptive guard, with high and open hands, with palms forward , almost in the attitude of those who do not want to harm.

Do you remember Jennifer Lopez in her movie “Away from the Nightmare”?

In the mother scene, she confronts the villain (as well as husband, in the film) Billy Campbell in a deadly duel where some striking shots feature the beautiful Jennifer in that strange and contradictory guard position.

The devious and contradictory aspect of the laying of the JKD and the Krav Maga consists of its double meaning: of apparent surrender (I do not want to harm) and readiness to action.

Those open hands, in fact, can snap forward suddenly and hit vital targets, or capable of making it unable to continue the aggression in an instant: eyes, throat, for example.

This illustration allows us to introduce one of the fundamental aspects in terms of tactics and strategy, to be kept in the imminence of a fight: dissimulation.

If we want to talk about what position to take in the run-up to an aggression, we must first take a small step back and make it clear that aggression is actually an event almost always divided into phases.

It is difficult for the aggressor to materialize from nothing, half a meter from us, and begins to beat us to death: almost always, on the other hand, there are rituals of rapprochement,perhaps very rapid, which in some way are characteristic of each type of aggressor.

It can be a pretext, or an “interview” of intimidation and threats.

However things go, the sequence of events that lead to violence, usually begins at a certain distance, followed by a progressive physical rapprochement of the contenders.

From this comes the fact that, whatever guard position you have chosen, it is useless and inappropriate to put yourself in such a pose when the other is still at a distance.

If the energy is still a few meters away from us and does not seem determined to approach us yet, first we can try to do some de-escalation perhaps using the assertive communication techniques we have often talked about.

From a postural point of view it would simply be a matter of implementing a correct way of standing in front of an individual whose intentions are not known, with a relaxed posture but ready to take action.

Only if the situation plummets and your attacker gets too close,then you must immediately assume a real guard position, but with precise characteristics and purpose:

  • Try to calm or dissuade the beater
  • Protect your body as much as possible
  • Enable a quick and effective response in the event of an attack
  • Allow a lightning “pre-emptive strike” if you understand that the situation is no longer manageable.
  • Communicate with any witnesses who, looking at the scene, must understand on the fly that the aggressor is not you.

The “your” guard position, must dissuade but not provoke, must be upright, relaxed, with the head well back, with the arms and legs positioned in order to delimit the distance that your attacker can not cross without hitting you (and be hit).

Don’t stand with your arms dangling or your legs wide to show that you’re not afraid and that you’re tough: you immediately get punched in the face or kicked in the balls.

NEVER underestimate your attacker or play hard-working.

Keep The Arms High, Outstretched In Come in but not Too muchWith The Elbows Low That Protect The Body, with the Hands OpenThe dita Towards the top And up to the task del Face (Remember The Pope: “peace and good”).

Do not keep your arms outstretched and stiff,move them with a continuous but slow movement, up and down, in the gesture of those who want to bring someone back to calm.

Who sees you, must get the idea that you are trying to calm down and keep your attacker at a distance.

Your forward hands are actually your protection (if the posture is correct the opponent can not target one of your vital points, disturbed also by the rhythmic movement of the arms), and are your antennae.

The attacker may snap forward, but before hitting you should first touch your hands or arm.

Beware of the position of your legs:

The weight of the body must be on the back leg with the tip in the direction of the aggressor while the front one that is lightened weight, must be ready to get up to stop an incoming kick or a charge of the attacker with the foot inwards about 30 degrees.

This position of the legs:

  • is a passive protection of the lower belly: note the frontal view with the tip of the foot forward rotated, along with the knee, towards the center of the body,
  • while still allowing a good balance, it is an effective protection from groin kicks,
  • it’s a detail of incredible importance!

Remember that it is not combat sport is football in the balls is something that is often used if you leave space.

Never stand in front of the attacker but try to stay diagonally on the side of his hand and advanced leg.

The aggressor will try to move around and turn around looking for a target, but you have to move around, trying to keep the “deterrent” pose and, at the same time, Trying of Take On His Side Weak (the one of the arm and leg forward as I told you before), because it is less loaded than the limbs behind.

If he were to approach or sprint towards you, Not Just feel the contact or Touches, grab his weak arm the one ahead (he’d be the one closest to you if you’ve done everything right) and Hit With All yours Force, with your most valid arm, possibly on the jaw, between your chin and ear.

Now it doesn’t make sense to write what to do because there are so many variables, but what I mean is:


And keep hitting or run as far as you can and go report what happened.

Your rule is to save your skin! Stop, the rest comes later.

Stay Tuned!

Street Fight Mentality & Fight Sport


What do you think?

Written by Andrea

Instructor and enthusiast of Self Defence and Fight Sport.

# Boxing / Muay Thai / Brazilian Jiu Jitsu / Grappling / CSW / MMA / Method & Training.
# Self Defence / FMA / Dirty Boxing / Silat / Jeet Kune Do & Kali / Fencing Knife / Stick Fighting / Weapons / Firearms / Strategy.

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