Tackling the Tackle by David Peterson
From what I have seen in the 'UFC' matches, in my own training, and various other situations, it is clear that standing right in front of the attacker and expecting to "blow him away" with the deadly ferocity of our counter-attack is simply not realistic. Meeting his/her force head-on in that manner is crazy. One or two (even if well-timed) attacks from such a position will not take care of what is the main problem, ...the momentum of such a committed attack, as this will be more than enough to carry the enemy on through our own position, not only taking us to the ground, but giving them ample opportunity to recover their senses and continue with their attack which, if they are using such an strategy as the "rugby tackle-style" technique, suggests that they are grapplers who would be more than able to make use of this range and position than we would.
Even the Gracies talk about the fact that they are expecting to get hit on the way in, but that this is an acceptable and necessary part of the grappler's strategy. What I have found to be a more useful method of dealing with such attacks is borrowed from the 'Baat Jaam Do' ("eight-slash knives") form, namely the exaggerated retreating footwork found within this form. The type of defensive ("side-stepping") footwork normally employed against stand-up fighters ('Tui Ma') works fine against upright attacks, allowing us to avoid the attack with the smallest amount of movement, remaining in such close proximity to the attacker that we can virtually trap their body from top to bottom (arms and legs). What I need to do against a lunging/diving attack, however, is exactly the opposite - I want to totally avoid contact (short of landing whatever striking techniques I can along the way), so the footwork from the "knives" form, which deliberately takes the front leg further back (as it needs to be when a "knife-wielding" exponent faces an opponent with a long pole or similar weapon, whereby the legs must be kept out of harms way), thus allowing me to draw the attacker further forward and off balance, while my hands can ward off the upper body or arms and literally "encourage" his/her forward momentum so that they are keep out of position. This then provides the option of either making my escape, or else pressing the counter-attack from a safer angle whereby I can force him/her to the ground or into the wall, etc., using kicking as the main weapon because reaching down to employ hand techniques would put me back in the grappler's domain.
When we do a "normal" defensive footwork action (we normally refer to it as a side-step, despite the fact that it is NOT mostly to the side but BACKWARDS and to the side), the action follows this outline: imagine standing in the centre of a clock, facing 12 o'clock (where the opponent is positioned). If I choose to move to the right (or the force of the attack, if contact is already existing, pushes me there), the right foot steps back towards the 5 o'clock position and the left foot slides after it, maintaining the original distance between the feet (corresponding to the basic "goat" stance). I should be still facing front-on to the centre of the clock (the point where my opponent would now be, he/she having occupied my original position), a line drawn between my heels running straight back to that point; the weight is on the rear leg, the front foot is still turned inwards (as it would be in the basic stance from which I moved) so as to act as an automatic trap for the opponent's forward leg, while the rear leg is now turned outwards so that the feet are parallel. As a final test of the position, if I leave my heels exactly where they are and turn the left foot inwards, I should end up still standing in my "original" basic position.
Now, the difference between this type of footwork and that which I described previously (the "knife" form footwork) is that instead of drawing the left foot back in line with the right foot as described above, the left foot is pulled right back so that it is in much the same position as it would be when I do a pivot, or the stepping in the 'Cham Kiu' form. To use the clock-face model again, the right foot is at the 5 o'clock position while the left foot is now pretty much on the 6 o'clock spot. Against a weapon, such as the pole, this is a safety measure because the "normal" side-step ('Tui Ma') action would leave the front leg open to attack from the longer weapon (against empty hands it's ideal, for trapping, etc., but against a longer weapon, it remains vulnerable, both to attack and balance problems), so by pulling the front leg further back in this exaggerated fashion, it draws it out of the line of fire.
Now, if we apply this same strategy to the rushing/lunging attack under consideration, the outcome is the same: it keeps you out of the reach of the enemy and allows you to outflank his/her position by shifting both backwards and laterally. About the Author
David Peterson has been training in the Chinese martial arts since 1973. He became a student of Sifu Wong Shun Leung after travelling to Hong Kong in 1983. He is a teacher of the Chinese language and principal instructor of the ‘Melbourne Chinese Martial Arts Club’ where he instructs in the "Wong Shun Leung Method". Peterson is one of only two authorised and qualified instructors of Wong’s system in Australia, and a fully endorsed member of the world-wide ‘Wong Shun Leung Wing Chun Martial Arts Association’ and the Hong Kong-based 'Ving Tsun Athletic Association'. He is also a freelance writer whose articles have appeared in many local (Australian) and overseas journals, including "Combat", "Inside Kung-fu", "Black Belt", "Masters of the Martial Arts", "Impact: the Action Movie Magazine", "Eastern Heroes", "Australasian Fighting Arts", "Blitz Australasian Martial Arts Magazine", "Australasian Martial Arts Magazine", "Traditional Martial Arts Journal", "Impact Martial Arts Magazine", "Qi Magazine", "Martial Arts Illustrated", "Kicksider" and "Kung Fu Illustrierte". More recently, his articles have featured on several international Web sites in both the English and German languages.
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