52 Blocks is in my opinion, ideally geared to practical self preservation. It was born in an environment of constant threat (the penal system). We often hear of self-defense training, but rarely do we hear of offense training. The reason may be because we have been conditioned to believe that it is wrong to take the offensive stand; that we should use violence only in defense when we are truly seriously threatened. But it is my belief that if you learn only avoidance and awareness rather than physical attack, you will be shortchanged. Much of self-defense is mental, but our mental capabilities are often overshadowed by what happens to us physically. Learning awareness and avoidance is not wrong, of course, but we can read ourselves to such information in books and manuals. Intellectual knowledge of what you are supposed to do is seldom as valuable as the physical experience of a confrontation. The defensive or reactive approach may only give you a few additional seconds to live.

1. The reactive approach may save you from the first punch or knife stab. But you are also likely to freeze momentarily, which will inhibit your ability to act.

2. When an attacker rushes you, your natural tendency is to back up. But you may not know what sorts of barriers are behind you. For example, you may be faced with obstacles such as walls, fences, cars, or trash.

It can be argued that you should step to the side rather than stepping back, but doing so requires good timing. Consider training for offense instead. Hold your ground and launch a 52 Blocks counter-attack that hopefully neutralizes your opponent’s attack. The offensive stand gives you a psychological advantage where the assailant can’t use intimidation to achieve the dominant position. He might be in for a surprise, because he was probably not looking for a fight. If he had thought that you would strike back, he would not have attacked you in the first place. Work on 52 Blocks exercises that help you overcome your natural tendency to retreat to an inferior position.

When you take the active approach, you decide when and how the fight is to go down. You will at least turn some of the odds in your favor. With this principle in mind, how effective is it to learn an elbow strike, a finger rake, or a kick to the groin? If someone is really out to hurt you, one such strike may not deter him. This is another reason you should be the attacker and not the defender. If somebody wrestles you to the ground, rather than trying to push him off you, draw him closer and finish him with a 52 Blocks choke (providing that you have the knowledge to do so). The problem your instructor faces is how to teach these concepts to students who have never been in a physical confrontation, and who are uncomfortable with physical contact or physical nearness with a stranger. An even bigger problem is how to teach it in just a day or two.

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