10 posts / 0 new
Last post
Paul_L
Paul_L's picture
Is This a Silly Self Defence Technique?

When in my teens someone told me that if I was being threatened and thought that it was going to come to blows, spit in the agressors eyes as a distraction and then kick them between the legs really hard and run away.

For years I thought it was quite a silly thing but now I wonder if actually it would be a simple and effective thing to do?

Iain Abernethy
Iain Abernethy's picture

Paul_L wrote:
if I was being threatened and thought that it was going to come to blows, spit in the aggressor’s eyes as a distraction and then kick them between the legs really hard and run away.

I think the component parts of that are solid enough, but the way they are put together is not something I would advise.

Pre-emption is one of the few things what works relatively consistently; but the spitting is not good pre-emption. It does not debilitate, it is almost impossible not to telegraph, and it warns that more substantive action is coming.

Far better to follow Funaakoshi’s advice:

“When there are no avenues of escape or one is caught even before any attempt to escape can be made, then for the first time the use of self-defense techniques should be considered. Even at times like these, do not show any intention of attacking, but first let the attacker become careless. At that time attack him concentrating one's whole strength in one blow to a vital point and in the moment of surprise, escape and seek shelter and help."

Don’t “show intention of attacking” by spitting.

Spitting can be used as a distraction “in fight” though. And there is historical precedent for that in karate:

“One could spit on the opponent’s face to distract them” – Gichin Funakoshi, Karate-Do Kyohan, 1935

“If you spit in a person’s face they will unconsciously turn their face away in revulsion; you can then use that natural response to help with both your attack and defence.” – Morinobu Itoman, The Study of Karate Techniques, 1934

Groin kicks work, but there are issues in the way it is described. If you have spat on them, they are probably going to have to be pretty close … which means you won’t have the space to kick. I’d never lead with a kick in that way. I also want my feet on the ground for running. Happy enough to kick people in the groin, but not using those tactics.

Pre-emption to facilitate escape is good. Spitting works as distraction. Groin kicks work. What is lacking here is the way they are combined. As it is described, it is not something I would do or recommend.

All the best,

Iain

Paul_L
Paul_L's picture

Thank you Iain for a very comprehensive answer. Some of the points mentioned wouldn’t have even shown up on my radar TBH. 

Anf
Anf's picture

I'm always skeptical of the value of a kick to the groin. Mother nature was cruel to us men, in suspending our delicate gonads in a thin sack of little more than skin, but at the same time, she did bless us with incredibly responsive built in defences for them. If on route to the gonads, the foot happens to even gently touch the inner thigh, a gazillion nerve endings fire and reflex action automatically works to defend them. Even if all those reflexes fail, it has to be a direct hit to a relatively small target to be effective. And you'll only get one shot because once the intended recipient knows your intention, a slight shift of hip position makes it nigh on impossible to get there. This is exactly the reason why I get wound up when I hear women referring to a kick or a knee to the balls as some kind of infallible, decisive self defence mechanism that has never in the whole of recorded history been known to fail.

I think in a self defence scenario, IF you can see the perfect shot, then fair enough, but I'd never look for it or try to set it up. I think there are plenty of equally debilitating options that are far more likely to work, and therefore lower risk.

Iain Abernethy
Iain Abernethy's picture

The groin is an area that is instinctively protected, and the pain is not immediately debilitating. I’d therefore agree the groin should not be considered as “some kind of infallible, decisive self defence mechanism”. However, groin kicks can be effective when used in the in the right way.

I don’t think it requires the exacting precession your post would suggest, and it is possible to create the shot. They are not definitive fishers, but they are useful. Musashi advised that people to know the difference between “cutting” and “slashing”. A cut being a definitive end, and a slash something that contributes toward that end. Obviously, we want the “cut”, but we should not rule out the “slashes” because they help us get that cut.

I’d therefore not rule them out, but encourage their considered use within a wider framework.

All the best,

Iain

Paul_D
Paul_D's picture

My worry with spitting as a defensive tactic would be how it would look to the police or the court (if things escalated to the that point).  Reasonable people don't spit, where as the more unsavoury characters within our society do.   A criminal will try of course to paint you as the bad guy, and telling the police that you spat in his face is going to paint you in a bad light.

Paul_L
Paul_L's picture

I was thinking about the person who told me this all those years ago and it was a Karate instructor who at that time was 6th dan. Its easy to feel that questioning an “experts” words is wrong but it seems that sometimes you should.

Anf
Anf's picture

Paul_L wrote:
I was thinking about the person who told me this all those years ago and it was a Karate instructor who at that time was 6th dan. Its easy to feel that questioning an “experts” words is wrong but it seems that sometimes you should.

I used to think the same. But I've since learned that unless that dan grade is backed by a reputable organisation, it doesn't necessarily mean much. I once became a member of one organisation that offered to 'reissue a dan certificate' without evidence that you'd ever had one. They said it was if you'd lost it and didn't want to start again, they'll sort it out. I'm not suggesting that's what happened with the 6th dan you knew. But unless you know which organisation awarded that 6th dan, it doesn't mean a great deal. Even if it is credible and legit, holding any grade doesn't automatically mean that one knows real self defence. There are rules in the training hall. They vary from club to club but generally prohibit spitting and kicking nuts. So we might assume therefore that this particular combo didn't form part of his training towards his 6th dan, but rather is just something he concluded in his capacity as a perfectly ordinary person, irrespective of his martial arts training.

Iain Abernethy
Iain Abernethy's picture

Paul_L wrote:
Its easy to feel that questioning an “experts” words is wrong but it seems that sometimes you should.

I think we should always avoid the logical fallacy of “appeal to authority”. The fact something is true is what makes it true. It does not get any more true (or false) based on the qualifications of those making the assertion.

If the expert can show good data and make a reasoned argument, then we can accept the position based on that data and the reasoned argument. The fact they are an expert only matters so far as it affects their ability to make such an argument. Perceived expertise and qualifications alone should be discounted through.

“My doctor says smoking is good for you” means little when all the data shows that it is not.

All the best,

Iain

Ian H
Ian H's picture

Paul_D wrote:
My worry with spitting as a defensive tactic would be how it would look to the police or the court (if things escalated to the that point).  Reasonable people don't spit, where as the more unsavoury characters within our society do.   A criminal will try of course to paint you as the bad guy, and telling the police that you spat in his face is going to paint you in a bad light.

Also, spitting can often be seen as "aggravating" ... both by the recipient and society in general (including cops and courts).  It's seen as rudely aggressive and insulting, not "backed in a corner and scared ... don't make me fight you". 

If I'm looking to get away from a tough situation, I'm thinking "kick to the knee and run like heck".