THE FIVE FIGHTING RESPONSES
Scott J. DaDante
There are many fighting positions and postures that make up the various styles of the martial arts; some are based off of animals, some insects, others off of natural elements, etc. Depending on what discipline you train in, your style will depict the postures favored by your art. Some traditional styles strictly focus on one or two postures while others are engulfed in multiple positions. I always say the more the merrier, I believe that the more postures that you study, the more you allow yourself the opportunity to understand and adapt to other neighboring styles.
For instance, modern American Kenpo, being born in 1954, is still a fairly newer art, the style encompasses a vast number of fighting postures and positions and is always adding to update itself for the ever changing times. The reason for these many postures, I believe stems off its many influences and changes that had taken place in the style known originally as Chuan� Fa to then become Kempo and to what we know today as Kenpo. Since its early modern roots were originally based in Hawaii. Kenpo, I believe was influenced from the cultures inhabiting the native islands. Hawaii is rich with Samoan, Japanese, Chinese, Filipino and Korean heritage, to name a few, and with these vast cultures carry vast systems and with the United States already known as the melting pot; I can understand how, James Mitose, a Japanese man could introduce Kempo to Hawaii, and more so I can see how a lot of these styles were exposed and incorporated into Kenpo in some way or another.
Even if these other styles are not emphasized in the main art, I believe these styles do exist and through my research and study of many arts I have come to understand my base system of Kenpo better. Although the Parker system of Kenpo is a very well thought out and complete system in itself, years ago I decided to search outside of the box to explore a variety of different arts to appease my own interest and love of all martial arts. After 30 some years in the arts, I've founded my own style known simply as the 'NKK system', it stands for Ninjutsu Kenpo Kali, which are the core styles of this art. Although I carry high ranks in a lot of other styles, I feel that all the other arts fall under these three in some way or another. Not to offend anyone or to suggest that the NKK system is better than other styles, it is just my way to express my experiences and knowledge of the arts by applying all the things shared by other arts that might not be emphasized by just one style. That�s where the NKK system comes into play for me and my students, by allowing us to train in multiple styles within one set system. In itself it became a true mixed martial arts system.
I created this style without any premeditated ideas in mind and it is funny how it all fell together. Which leads me to the topic at hand - the five fighting responses. First, let me state that I do not believe in postures only responses. These responses are all based upon the reaction of the set forth attack. In turn this depicts the nature of your response.
Now let's back up a moment, when I stated that I don't believe in postures is not all true. When I refer to postures, I'm imagining various horse stances, bow stances, cat stances, etc. as your initial fighting stance; this is where I beg to differ. I believe that all confrontational start up stances should start from a neutral position 'Exhibit A'. Many styles incorporate this stance in their systems and they go by many names. By starting in this position, this so called stance does not allow your opponent to know much about you; what style you represent or that you have even trained at all for that matter. You also come across as no threat. Most importantly is that you have the freedom to move to any angle you choose and this is where your postures or responses will begin. By moving into one of the traditional stances, to me, starting in some stances seems to limit us as reality fighters and in a way we're restricted to be only one sided at times. For those martial artists that are limited with their footwork, this can pose a real problem.
This is where the value of traditional and modern positions or stances comes into play after the initial response has been taken. Once an attack has been executed by your opponent your response will depict your posture. In our art, the NKK system is comprised off of five fighting responses or postures. These responses are very similar to Ninjutsu's No Kamaes in that they represent the five natural elements. Unlike Ninjutsu who have start up postures for each of these elements, we start from a neutral stance and depending on the nature of your opponent attack; their action will tell you which one of these five elements or postures that you should respond with.
In our system they translate to this order. First is Earth, our foundational response concentrating on basic defense to the attack. Second is Fire, our aggressive response which concentrates on destroying the attack at its source, Third being Wind, our evasive response that concentrates on avoiding an attack, Forth Water, our redirection response which turns your opponents energy back into themselves and fifth is Void, our misdirection response which confuses your opponent into immediately aborting their attack.
How do we know when to use these postures? Why would we even need to know them? A fight is a fight right? So what's the purpose or importance of these postures or responses anyway?
Well knowing these different responses can surely, without a doubt, secure your victory in a confrontation and more importantly secure your freedom after the fight. What do I mean freedom after the fight? Well look at it this way, if all you know is how to respond to confrontation in just one way, let's say pure aggression 'Fire' for example, then your chances of winning the fight are high, but the legal and moral results may not end in your favor. If whenever pressured and say someone grabs your shoulder from your backside and you just spin around and blast them with a strike simply because you thought you were being attacked would be unethical and your chances of being charged with assault are high. I don't believe simply saying you're sorry or that it was a mistake are going to help you out in this matter. But, if someone said they were going to blow your brains out and then reached for their gun and you immediately responded with pure aggression 'Fire' and eliminated the attacker before they could reach for the gun would be ethical and your actions would be counted as self defense. This idea and principle behind 'Fire' applies to all the five responses and when each one should be used.
Let's start from the beginning response, Earth 'Example 1'. Doing what is necessary to secure our safety without going overkill. Say someone's in your face and they are threatening you, you can feel it about to happen but you know this is more of a verbal attack, meaning not a life threatening situation. Something triggers him and he tries to push you into a wall behind you. As he pushes you with both hands you step back with his energy into a fighting horse stance, this is where postures are effective once the attack is made not before. Once in the stance you double outward block to break up the push while securing the proper distance for your follow up. You pivot into a front snap kick to his inner thigh causing his leg to move back. You immediately pivot into a knife kick to the opposite leg again knocking the leg back. If he falls to the ground you are finished, if not or you sense that he is not done yet you could follow up with a crossing rear kick to the closest leg.
What you did in 'Earth' is see the attack for what it was. Your response was to destroy your opponent's foundation knowing that if he cannot walk then how can he fight you. The kicks to the legs were not intended to break any bones, but to attack the muscles of the leg by retarding them from functioning properly almost like a temporary paralysis.
'Example 2' Fire; Destroying the source. A man pulls a knife out and thrusts it straight at you. You cat your leg in circling away from the knife; this motion compliments your inward block which secures your avoidance of the knife. This same motion fuels your snap kick to their inner thigh driving the their leg back while you outward block picks up where your last block ended. Your kicking leg guides itself down the couture of their leg into a Chinese lock step as you strike out a thrusting elbow with your full forearm attacking their sternum, collar bone and side of the neck breaking everything in sight as he slams to the ground.
What happened here was a safety issue, he came at you with a knife so you responded immediately by avoiding the weapon, but not necessarily focusing solely on just the knife because by destroying as many limbs as fast as you can would prevent him from being able to use the knife anyway. In this case you had no time to play games and you legally have the right to end it fast. Besides you were nice enough to let him live so he can reflect on his mistake.
'Example 3' Wind; One cannot be hit if he cannot be touched. A man is verbally threatening you and he's drunk. He keeps on trying to stick his finger out and into your face; you simply move out of the way. He gets mad so he swings at you and you bob and weave. He throws again and you dunk. He throws another strike and you side step. This continues until he exhausts himself and even though he's drunk he realizes that it is pointless to continue.
In this scenario we see that there is no real threat so what could justify our hurting another human being at this point. He's already drunk so he in a way is already hurting himself. We use our training as somewhat of a drill here by playing in a way a game with them, but be serious about it never underestimate anyone even a drunk. You cannot get in trouble if you never caused injury in the first place. Your safe, he looked like a sloppy drunk while you can out looking pretty good so go enjoy the party and reap from the benefits of being so damn compassionate.
'Example 4' Water; The art of redirection. You stand somewhat intimidated by the size of your opponent; you know that you cannot match his strength. Fighting fire with fire would not be smart; neither would standing your ground in an earth response. You realize he is coherent and in great shape, so wind is not the wise choice. You need to end this fast but you're going to need help, so why not use him to defeat his own attack. He moves at you with sheer speed as he throws out the punch; you slip step as you brush the strike past you grabbing on to the back of his hand and wrist. You follow with an upward smack to the back of his elbow and with both arms you twist and shoot his own shoulder back into his face dislocating his jaw, hyper extending his elbow and fracturing his wrist all within one move. You lunge into him checking his arm down while palming him in the face. You cat in while elbowing him to the back of the neck immediately barring his arm while chopping in the throat at the same time sweeping his leg. You turn around fast as you ridge hand him in the sternum while shooting out a thrusting bow to his supporting leg which ends this confrontation as he plunges down to the ground.
This time we could not take any chances, if given the opportunity to get the first shot in then we had to continue until we were sure of our victory. Never allowing yourself to find out who was the better fighter because you never gave him a chance to show you what he could do. This is not sparring; this is the reality of the streets and at these times there can be no remorse, but only concern for our safety.
'Example 5' Void; The art of deception. You just got a call that your son's in the hospital and you run across the park toward your car as you accidentally slam into a semi big man. You say you're sorry but he has no concern for your apologies and only wants to cause trouble. You try and tell him that you have to go and you even say please, but he will not let you past him. You have no time for confrontation, not even time to explain. You have an important mission on your mind, the safety of your child, and this man is of no concern to you at this point. Not out of disrespect to your fellow man and being truly sorry for bumping into him, you realize that you need to be somewhere else and fast. You side step him and spit in his eyes and take off for your car. The man stops in his tracks, he's confused and is temporarily unconcerned of your where a bouts as he cleans himself off and when his attention is now ready to be focused back on you; you're gone.
There are times when redirecting another's thoughts into our favor is most beneficial. In this case the man spit into another's eyes. Sounds sick and I know I'd be mad if I got spit on, but I know like the guy in the story I'd be stopped in my tracks too. If the defender just tried and misdirected the attacker by saying "look over there!" or throwing something at him, the attacker's recovery time would have been more rapid and he probably would have ran after the defender. The defender could not afford this at this time and the confrontation was a minor concern over his son's welfare. Understand this and think about its meaning.
I hope you can see how these responses can not only depict the outcome of your confrontation, but also the outcome of your future. Remember that your actions results in consciences. Like our mom's used to say think before you talk, also think before you act. Keep your mind open, train and learn outside of the box, exploring everything you can to try and adapt it you your style of training. You just never know what you might stumble upon.
Respect and Honor.