07 January 2013

Natural Protective Responses and Impact Weapons

Like many of you, I have a fascination with all weapons, especially impact weapons.  The idea of an impact weapon is that it concentrates energy on a small surface area which increases trauma.  The body systems effected are the Central Nervous System, for our purposes the brain and spinal cord, and the Skeletal System.  From an anatomical standpoint, disruption to these systems will stop humans actions faster than not being able to breathe or heavy bleeding.  The reason is that they do not involve “flow” to work, like air and blood does.  Instead, they are electrical and structural.
Now that we understand why impact weapons work, let’s take a look at the physiology of their use.  In combatives, we say that the human arm has three basic movements; pushing, pulling, and swinging.  When using impact weapons, only pushing (jab) and swinging movements are used.  For pulling to take place, you have to be holding onto your attacker.

Whether it be a jab with an open hand, or holding on of the popular impact tools designed to concentrate the force of the two top knuckles, in most cases you have to be moving forward at a controlled pace to use this strike.  Seldom do you see jabs thrown during a fight by untrained individuals, and only then when moving forward.  This is for two reasons.  The first being that our natural protective responses to unknown or overwhelming stimulus are swinging movements.  Picture someone’s reaction when being attacked by bees.  During the stress of a deadly attack, even a trained boxer is likely to swing and not jab.  The second reason is backward movement.  Another of our natural protective responses is that when falling, or being pushed back, our hands go out to the sides to navigate, keep our balance, and break our fall.  We are born with a natural fear of falling.  You can see this when someone slams a door startling a baby lying on his back.  His limbs jerk violently inward and then outward.  This is called the Moro Response and disappears around six months of age.  It is replaced by several natural protective responses.  These are hardwired in our DNA.  The more scared we are, the harder they are to overcome.  For these reasons, I do not advocate the use of improvised or designed impact weapons that require a stabbing or jabbing motion.
On the other hand, improvised and purposely designed impact tools that exploit the swinging movements of your natural protective responses are recommended.  This means anything that protrudes out of the top or bottom of your closed fist.  Shorter tools like pens, flashlights, and Kubatons protrude from the bottom and are used for hammer fisting.

Longer impact weapons like saps, jacks, and sticks protrude out of the top of your hand.  Both short and long impact weapons are intuitive and take full advantage of your natural protective responses.  Just one more step towards developing a personal protection program that works with your mind and body, not against it.

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