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Controlling Attack Range
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Who-so-ever desires constant success
must change his conduct with the times.
                     Niccolo Machiavelli

Attack Range and Control Presence

What is not known or taught about this concept by most DT/MA/CQC/SD instructors could fill encyclopedias. But controlling distance is one of the most critical of the factors determining:
    A) whether or not you will be attacked
    B) the criminal counting coup on you
    C) you counting coup on him
    D) your ability to shadow dance

If you do not understand and know how to control attack range, you will fail A through D.

In our book, Becoming a Complete Martial Artist, we discuss range in depth. What we're going to do here is give you a very abridged version. There are three basic components to range: extension (reach), travel (distance) and targeting.

Although for effective power delivery, targeting is far more complex, let's for brevity's sake just say the target is you. This allows us to focus on the other two elements, extension and travel. Extension is easily understood, it's how long his arms and legs are. It determines where he has to be in order to hit you. That is not going to change in an altercation. His reach is fixed.

From where he is now the distance and movement he has to do to get to his target is travel. And, this is the subtle part, can he do so without you seeing it? (Incidentally, we have just given you the secrets of sucker punching).

Any time that you are within a violent offender's reach, you are in danger. But how often do you realize you are in danger because you are within his traveling distance? Knowing what that looks like and what he needs in order to attack are important parts of controlling range. With a little practice, by simply controlling attack range, you can make someone trying to set you up boogie the funky chicken, instead of a shadow dance. Sure he can still attack you, but, before he can, he has to do this, this, that and the other thing, too. And before he can do all those things you're going to land on him like a ton of bricks.

A major part of counting coup is for the criminal to slide in to and out of attack range, without you doing anything about it. If he can move into a location and a position(1) where he can reach you or with minimum travel launch an attack, you've lost coup points. A good analogy is that it is like the criminal pointing a loaded gun at your back. All he'd have to do is pull the trigger. This is not the kind of power you want a criminal thinking he has over you.

For successful shadow dancing, as he slides into range you either calmly slide out of it without interrupting what you are saying, or -- to let him know "where it's at" -- you slide away from his attack range and into yours, also while still talking.

Both of these responses send an important message. The first is that you know the game, but you're trying to be reasonable and still work with him. The second is that your patience is wearing thin and if he doesn't knock off this silly game, you're going to be doing the "who's your daddy" dance on him. Both are useful strategies depending on the circumstances.

Going back to the criminal pointing a gun at your back analogy, understanding and controlling range is like turning and holding up his clip. Sorry Charlie...not this time. Now whether you keep on working without turning around or you turn around and screw your gun up his nose depends on the message you need to send.

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1) As we said this issue is a little too complex to be easily covered on a Web page. For an effective attack, there are many factors that must be lined up. An example of this is knowing the difference between location, position and pose. A criminal can be in a "location" that would normally put you in reach of his extension, except that his "position" in that location (e.g., facing away from you) entails his first turning around before he can attack. This is extra motion that will warn you that he is attacking. His "pose," is not only how he is holding his body, but how he needs to hold it in order to attack. Using the example of the perp in an attack location, but not position, as he turns he's going to raise his hand to strike. That is an attack pose. But his ability to move into an attack pose is going to be seriously hampered if he is handcuffed. Think of this as a statue, where it is (location), which way it's facing (position) and what pose it is in. All three need to be present for you to be attacked. It's a triangle of which you never want him to get two sides, much less three. It's far harder to stop an attack (where these elements have aligned) than it is to control these elements to prevent him from attacking. That's where shadow dancing comes into play. He's trying to gain these three, you're taking them away. Return to Text

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