Evasion movements can be segmented into upper and lower body movements that are intended to reposition the body so that a potential assailant’s grab is avoided or weakened or his attempted strike is avoided or the level of impact is lessened.
Upper Body Evasion Movements The goal of moving the upper body when trying to evade an assailant's grab or strike is to:
- Minimize the assailant's ability to effectively grab or strike you, and
- Minimize the strength of a grab or the power of a strike, if the assailant is able to reach you.
These upper body movement patterns should/could involve:
- Hip and shoulder rotation (definitely - it is much more difficult to grab onto someone's shoulders when the shoulders are moving),
- Side bending (possibly),
- Bending backwards (possibly), or
- A combination of any or all of these movement patterns (probably!).
In all situations, an upper body movement should be performed either:
- Simultaneously with lower body/foot movement or
- Immediately before lower body/foot movement.
Lower Body (Foot & Leg) Evasion Movements
Lower body movement has two main purposes:
- Regain balance lost from the upper body movement (and the shifting of your center of gravity)
- Move you into a more advantageous position from which you can either exit the scene or prepare/execute your physical self defense actions.
These movement patterns could involve:
- Side leg/foot movement – stepping or shuffling to the side. Should be at least one step but if you are not ready to strike back at an assailant, it should preferably be two steps in order to create a larger distance between you and the assailant.
- Backward leg/foot movement – bring front leg/foot back into line (side-by-side) with rear leg/foot, but you should immediately move what was the rear foot backwards or to the side in order to keep the feet from being next to each other (which would compromise your balance).
Note: It is very important to remember that if you move to the side, the initial step should be taken by the foot that is on the same side as the direction you plan to move to. If you want to move to your right – step with the right foot first. And, vice versa. This prevents the possibility of crossing your legs as you move away, allowing you to better maintain your balance.
To be most effective for evasion, the lower body movement patterns should be executed simultaneously with one or more of the upper body movement patterns noted previously.
Practicing & Conditioning for Self Defense
These are not movement patterns typically used on a daily basis making it very likely that your body may not be very coordinated or physically conditioned to efficiently and effectively perform these movement patterns – more good reasons to participate in an effective functional exercise program and take a self defense class!
The muscle groups utilized for these movement patterns are located in the core or trunk (abdominals and back). These are commonly trained with exercises that involve spinal flexion (crunches), lateral spinal flexion (side bends) and spinal extension (prone spinal extension) and trunk rotation exercises. The best way to condition the body for these movements is in a functional manner with full body integration – mimic the exact movement patterns used in self defense, against the proper level of resistance and intensity.
Evasion Movement CheckList
- Avoid crossing the legs (relative to the position of the aggressor) while stepping in an evasion movement
- Feet (toes) should be pointing in the direction that you want to move
- Proper stance (feet staggered)
- At the beginning of the movement and when the movement is finished - evenly distributed on both feet, forward on the balls-of-the-feet
No jumping or lunging when moving your feet.
It is very difficult to describe in words, with no visual aids (photos, videos, live demonstrations, etc), the proper way to perform evasion movements. Nothing can replace the education and skill-building experience that live training provides. But, if you read these hints and suggestions and try practicing them on your own, you will be way ahead of the person who never becomes educated or never practices these movements – something is better than nothing!
Also, keep in mind that in general there are 2 possible self defense scenario situations:
- You have no idea an attack is coming – so you are unable to pre-position your body and prepare your mind for what happens. You have to be able to react as quickly as possible. The ability to react quickly is enhanced with proper training!
- You are aware of the possibility that attack could happen – so, if you are unable to avoid the attack situation by exiting the scene, then you should move your body in the most advantageous position (review the previous “Proper Stance” articles) possible for the action you have chosen to take.
Hopefully, by using all 4 types of awareness, you are able to always recognize and avoid a potentially dangerous confrontation that could require physical self defense actions. That is the goal! That may not always be possible. So, it is better to proactively prepare for the possibilities than to wait until something bad does happen!
In the next article, I move on to describing re-direction and striking techniques and targets.
Until then, remember, One Body, One Life, One Choice……Be Smart & Stay Safe!