Guards in Self-Defence

In this video we talk about holding the hands in a guard for self-defence. If you are short on time, let me summarise the video:

Having the hands held in a tight guard is not a smart thing to do in self-defence!

To understand why it’s a bad idea, you need to appreciate that not all violence is the same and there are HUGE differences between consensual violence (“fighting”) and non-consensual violence (self-defence). The differing objectives result in different ways of best achieving those different objectives; for both you and the person(s) you are facing. What is optimum in one context, is problematic in another.

The video is divided up into six sections:

1) Introduction: The Importance of Context

2) What is a guard for?

3) What should the hands do?

4) Guards, power & rate of fire

5) Guards vs. Covering

6) Conclusion

I have made this video because I have recently noticed quite a bit of “fuzzy thinking” on the topic of guards. Many people seem to be of the view that a guard is always vital in self-defence and therefore a “failure” to maintain one at all times is an error. I suspect this view comes from the fact that a guard is very important in a consensual exchange with both participants seeking to “win” the fight (no argument there!). However, the problem arises when self-defence is seen as being exactly the same as a mutually agreed fight, aside from the fact it takes place in the “street” i.e. self-defence = “street fight”. That’s not the case though.

Self-defence is very different in nature i.e. closer, more frantic, a much higher rate of fire, no mutual skill set, reduced reaction time, no opening and closing of the range, etc. In self-defence, the hands should be put to active use – as opposed to being held in a passive guard – and we need to be hitting as hard as we can, as fast as we can, from the get-go. A tight and passive guard is antithetical to all of this.

To be clear, a guard is vital and works well for fighting. It can be problematic if we try to approach self-defence in the same way though.

This is sure to be a topic that ruffles a few feathers (it shouldn't be, but it probably will be). Please be sure to watch the full video before you decide if you disagree or not. It’s a nuanced issue that requires the consideration of many points.

All the best,


PS The YouTube link can be found HERE

Guards in Self-Defence?