WTW, 1/31/2011

It's all about the head

Your head is the most frequently target of your attackers. Crash the magical attraction between your upper storey and your opponent's weapons. Learn how to move your head well-directed to not become easy prey. Your enemy has literately put a reward on your head. Somehow his weapons seem to really like your skull.

It's not done by simply ducking your head. An active retreat, sometimes simply called escape, is not much better either. On the contrary: Trying to escape backwards doesn't move your head out of the attack line and is breaking your balance. It would be cool if a quick "Beam me up, Scotty" would do the job. Unfortunately we're not quite there yet. You should really know what to do if you don't want to come out of the frying pan and into the fire. Bringing your head out of the danger zone is a good way to start.

"C'mon, it's just one hit..." - sorry pal, but a direct hit to the head is a worst case scenario, it really can't get any worse. Get familiar with this kind of situation. Once you've learned how to estimate such situations properly, you will not run into them quickly. Your head is king. Protect the king by any means.

One hand between stick and head
It might happen in a self-defence situation that the only thing you manage to accomplish is to sacrifice one of your hands instead of your head. A heavy strike can not be stopped completely that way, that's for sure. But by protecting your head you get a chance to bring yourself into a safe postition. That's why it is very important to be able to use and move both your hands independently from each other.

"Why can't I just duck?" In one way or another, you can. It happens quite frequently that you have to move out of the way without using your legs. Reasons to do so might be due to environmental restrictions or that your opponent surprises you with an attack out of the blue.

A small miracle
You can't hit what isn't there. Smart moving is the name of the game. Duck your head out of the line of fire. We call that movement a "U Swing" (in boxing it's called "bob and weave"), which also happens to be part of the training schedule at the Escrima school in Bretten. Sascha Böhringer (4th TG Escrima) and Falk Welker (3rd TG Escrima) present that "small miracle" in a crisp and manifold way and the results that can be achieved with it. Skillfully applied, your head gets out of the way while you position yourself nicely for your counter attack.

Well-directed steps
In reality everything seems different. The crucial part is not sitting on your shoulders, it's your legs. They carry you out of the line of fire. Ideally in a 45° angel. That way you get a chance to start a flank attack or even launch an attack from behind. Your body's most important part will be protected by your footwork, if you keep moving. Counter attacks with your weapon(s) will break your opponent's attacks and will move you to a safe position. Your live hand will be your lifesaver. Regarding footwork there's only one rule: Keep moving. In a fight there's no standstill. If you stand still, you will be killed by your opponent.

Attack on target
So your head's out of the way, now what? Hit back, of course! But don't rush in head over heels, look out for and find a precise target first. Keep your eyes focused on it and try to evaluate the situation. Watch your opponent and his movements all the time. Remember your head's the General and he must have a clear vision at any time. If you're attacking, seek a target, a concrete spot that you hunt for with all your attacks.

Your self-protection is essential. Before you attack, always protect yourself with your live hand. Then it's time to bring your head behind your weapon. Protected by your weapon, which is your sword and shield, you approach your opponent. Hit but don't get hit, that's the motto. In Newman-Escrima you will learn from scratch how to move your head into safe positions and how to hit protective. "Where the head goes the body follows."

Attackers seek victims, not opponents. Newman-Escrima will make you an opponent.

Text: Jens Nördershäuser
Pics: Fotolia/hm
Source translated by: The Navigator