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Greg's picture
Running attacker




i know this may seem like a strange topic but it has been somthing that I have witnessed twice and really cannot get my head around. The situation basically went like this, an agressor was running flat out towards their target (in one case even with a fist clenched high ready to strike). Fortunately I was not on the recieving end of this attack and there was pleanty of security professionals present at the time to handle it. 

Anyways, my question is, how does one defend against an attacker charging at you? My worry is that say you used your most dedicated prefered attack, if you do make contact you are most likely to colide with 18 stone of charging mass regardless. What is more, if you do not make contact that you are all the more likely to collide. 

Any and all suggestions would be greatly appreciated. I know it appear to be a bit of a "what if" scenario, but having withnessed it twice before I am really interested in people's points of view on it. What is more, any traing tips in this area would also by great too. 

Many thanks,


Zach Zinn
Zach Zinn's picture

You get out of the way.

Seriously, sidestep, drop step, or whatever is your preferred method of locomotion and don't be in the direct path. Shouldn't take an enormous step, basically your main mass needs to be out of the way of his, preferably while you are still facing him with your center on him. Step out and "behind" him if you can, similar to tai sabaki drill. This is real easy to do in a class, even without equipment, just have someone barrell at you fast with outstretched hands...it's clear really fast what will work to getyou out his main path and what won't. If you can't do anything else, it helps to have a hand on the head as a guide or index if it's possible.

Katz's picture

What Zach said.

Also, if you think it justified, pushing them on their way will most likely result in them falling, or at least stumbling. Some throws might also work, although of course you need to make sure you don't take enough force of the charge to make YOU fall...

Tau's picture

I've not seen this, but I've treated the victims. The most interesting (from a Martial Perspective) was a football player. There was an altercation on the pitch involving several players. It seemed ended. The aggressor, according to my patient's family, covered eight feet to deliver the punch. Even though the victim saw the moving, they didn't consider that there might be punch. Maybe they froze. One punch. No knockout but three fractures of the mandible.

I think the point here is that even with perception of sudden aggressive movement toward the victim, they were unable to defend themself in any way. Maybe we, as dedicated Martial Artists would have a greater perception of the potential. But then... it was an amateur football match with referee and families present.

shoshinkanuk's picture

1. offline with a solid forearm guard

2. brace yourself, and use a straight elbow

3. turn and sidekick low

4. but the biggest point is how much more weight your dealing with, and also the speed the attacker is moving- if either is high then certianly moving off line is the better response, but you may not have that chance

Mark B
Mark B's picture

Get offline has already been suggested and obviously makes sense.  Tai and Ashi Sabaki with Mawashi uke to assist might work but you could simply get offline and stick you're foot out and watch them somersault. 

This kind of attack , completely over committed into a beserker charge would be quite unusual in my experience.  Usually there is a brief pause between the charge and collision. Jion kata has a complete sequence that considers this type of scenario- opponent charges in punching leading to grappling.  The kata deals with a number of possible scenarios.



Matt Perlingiero
Matt Perlingiero's picture

Isn't it obvious?  You do this:

Like a charm.

Marcus_1's picture

Definitely get out of the way, tai-sabaki is ideal for this and look at how it is used in Aikido etc to get off-line, if the threat is still there, he/she has their back to your front.  This gives you options:

1) turn and run - probably the best "self protection" option so long as you have an exit and somewhere you can secure yourself - depending on location this could be an easy option or not

2) push the threat using his/her forward motion against them then make good your escape

3) instigate a joint lock or hold and pray that authorities aren't far away.

Either way, bear in mind the use of force and scale it accordingly.

deltabluesman's picture

I actually witnessed a brutal beating that involved just this sort of attack while I was in Edinburgh.  The only difference is that the assailants ran him down from behind.  I doubt that he even saw what hit him.  

The advice above about getting off-line and out of the way seems dead on to me.  I would actually worry more about getting out of the way than about doing anything to the attacker.  I would not even try to trip the person.  I would just take an angle as quickly as I could.

The best way to develop skill against this sort of attack is probably to just play some sports.  A lot of the same skills you develop running down court in a basketball game could carry over.  Rugby, American football, hockey, football, etc. could work too.  Granted, it would be best to train this in a live combative fashion, but most of the schools I have trained with have just been too small to make it practical.  A school that trained in the park or trained on a court would be perfect for this.  

Training this sort of thing is great because it reinforces fundamental skills.  I frequently see martial artists say things like “Do this technique so you can run away.”  But running away is an athletic skill unto itself.  So you leave out half the battle if you just show the technique.

I sometimes wonder if maybe martial artists start at the wrong end of things.  I began my martial arts education learning how to kick and punch from a specific stance.  Only later on did I learn (with great difficulty) how to run through or run away from someone.  But now I wonder if maybe beginners should be taught to always fight on the move, and then only later learn how to use stances as a sort of gauge for good leverage/posture/stability, etc.  Just a thought.    

Zach Zinn
Zach Zinn's picture

Along this line, it's actually a fun drill to have two people walk briskly (or I guess run) into you and figure out how to get past them or get away efficiently.

Paul_D's picture

It would lend itself well to a number of thorws (Tomonage or Floatign Hip) but the problem with these is you do (jn the case of Tomonage) and probably would (jn the case of others) end up on the floor.  Personally I think I would step to the side and slightly forward (they wouldn't expect the forward movement and would mess up their stirking distance (even thoug you would hopfully be moving to the non striking side).  A forearm, clothes line to the face. or a kick to the stomach should do the trick I guess. We do have a couple of running attacks like this in our syllabus, but they are only for people trying to claim you roudn the waist for a takedown/rugby style attack.  We dont have anything for people running in to strike.