Close quarter combat and trapping range is another “mystical” area of training. It has been the subject of controversy and clever marketing. I could probably write forever on this subject and discuss and train almost as long, so let’s cut to the nitty gritty. Most unarmed (and armed) fights start and hover around close quarter range. Most people are not comfortable, let alone skilled at this range.
For street confidence, close quarter proficiency should be your focus. Here’s why: For your opponent to land a telling blow, he must always enter your close quarter range. Contact cannot be made without passing through this range. Think about that for a moment longer, perhaps.
Your confidence in this range is really your base. It is the range where you can quickly control the situation. Many martial artists preach a safe zone ‑ “stay outside my kicking range and we can talk.” Though there is merit to the theory, the theory is not the truth. The facts are simply different and though there may be a time and opportunity to employ a safe zone strategy, most situations don’t permit it and you will find yourself in an emotional bind as you discover that your strategy (your plan) is not working.
Also, the further you are from your opponent, the more likely you’ll force a blitz attack in a real street confrontation. You don’t want the blitz attack ‑ believe me.
In order to control the opponent in this range, you require serious psychological skills. You must understand the nature of escalation and understand the theory of “orientation” and the cosmos of violence. (Check out audiotapes). This is what I refer to as the behavioral approach to self‑defense. You must first manipulate the behavior of your opponent. This puts you in control of the scenario. Ultimately, you will successfully defuse or defend.
In this range you must also nurture your tactile (sense of touch) skills. Sensitivity training, energy drills and all of the other similarly termed drills are used to develop the skill of “reading” your opponent while in contact with the opponent. Your eyes account for 80% of your input and observation, but only when you can ‘see’ the object. In-close confrontations require tactile acuity.
“Real fights happen inside the space of a phone booth.”
Many people try to make this skill esoteric or elitist, when, in fact, everyone possesses tactile sensitivity and everyone can further develop it.
Wrestlers use it, as do boxers and hockey players (when they fight).
Energy drills are simple and necessary; defined simply: All muscles are interconnected; therefore, you cannot throw a punch, with power, without moving parts of your whole body. Also, we are made up of electrons that carry a charge (this is a bit esoteric, but simple) and when we touch one another, we can often sense intention and a kinetic build-up. When you combine these two principles you get tactile information. Logically integrate the information with sound strategy and technique and you control your opponent (or at least you’ll have the opportunity to).
CFD Definition of Close Quarter Range:
Where the situation suggests that you use close quarter tools.
Close Quarter/Trapping Range “Pros & Cons
On a more strategic level, when you are in close quarter range you have the greatest selection of targets, naturally, so does your opponent. We know that anything—kick, punch, head butt—must enter our close quarter range to land. This is good to know. We have great “high” and “low” line opportunities, therefore, variety. (Which, as you know, is the spice of fights, I mean, life.) The hand is quicker than the eye, so with proper psychological skills, we are confident about a first strike advantage. If we are ethically following a force continuum, we have a much greater opportunity to control and subdue our aggressor in this range. Our greatest intuitive defense, tactile sensitivity, is engaged in this range. Close quarter range is generally the weakest range for most fighters. We will train harder so it is our strongest and since the majority of fights start here, with proper training, we will end them here.
- All targets close
- All attacks enter
- Control potential
- Tactile sensitivity
- High line / low line potential
- Least telegraphic
- Opponent’s weak range
- Fights start here
- Overlaps boxing & grappling
- Your targets exposed
- High / low potential
- Hand quicker than eye
CFD Close Quarter ‘Muscle Memory’ Form
To help develop and maintain muscle memory, practice the form (a modern kata) described below. Remember to visualize where you are striking, visualize your attacker and watch your imagined opponent react to your strikes so that you adjust your movement to correspond with his movement.
IMPORTANT: This form is just a training exercise. The tactics you choose in the street MUST be appropriate to your real-life incident. Force must parallel danger.
The typical scenario:
This confrontation starts in “close quarter combat” range. Your attacker is not a martial artist, simply a macho bully. You’ve tried to verbally defuse the confrontation, but to no avail. It is too dangerous to turn your back on him. Visualize the scenario; try to create an adrenaline dump. Visualize a real-life scenario and start working the form.
Start from a “Submissive Posture”
Legend: YOUR ACTION ‑ opponent’s reaction
- SHORT LEAD FACE SLAP ‑ opponent flinches and closes his eyes.
- PALM STRIKE UNDER CHIN ‑ opponent steps back, growls and rushes in to nail you with a “big Haymaker.”
- Intercept with the S.P.E.A.R. ‑ opponent is jammed and hesitates.
- VERTICAL ELBOW ‑ catches opponent under the chin, snapping his head back.
- DOWNWARD RAKE (flows from same elbow #3) ‑ scratching attacker’s face, he flinches forward.
- HORIZONTAL ELBOW (opposite arm) ‑ hits opponent in the nose.
- REVERSE RAKE (same arm #5) ‑ causes opponent to clutch his face and turn away.
- DIAGONAL ELBOW (opposite arm/up and downward, slashing motion) ‑ hits attacker in the temple (clavicle, ear, etc.) region causing him to buckle.
- HAIR GRAB & KNEE ‑ grabbing the opponent’s hair, you drive a knee solidly into his face. He clutches his face and starts to stand up.
- LEAD FRONT KICK ‑ seizing the opportunity to attack the groin, you step in and snap a hard, quick kick to the groin. Your opponent doubles over, clutching his groin.
- REAR LEG FRONT KICK ‑ With the opponent doubled over, drive a powerful front kick, and use the shin as a striking surface, into his hands. Turn and run.
Here are some key points you want to keep in mind while you practice.
- Visualization (see the scenario)
- Synergy (use your whole body)
- Work in three’s (combinations)
- Lead with speed (suddenness)
- Closest weapon to closest target (ideal target)
- Follow‑through (aim past the point of contact)
- Resoluteness (total focus)
Naturally, in real life, the order of the techniques and the duration of the fight will be different. So understand that this is only a psychophysical simulation ‑ a modern “Kata.” One thing is for sure: The movements I advocate are the ones you need to know to successfully defend yourself. These are street proven tactics.
Close Quarter Drills
A good partner drill to help you to see how the close quarter arsenal flows is to have your partner attack you slowly with a realistic street type attack (grab, push, hair pull, tackle, etc.). Negate the attack, by jamming, blocking, intercepting, whatever and then do the CQ Form using the techniques I described. Your partner assists by feigning the reaction to your strikes. Slowly you will start to improvise around every type of attack and realize that the arsenal is a constant and the targets are the variable.
This is an important realization. In close quarter range your attacker is exposed to almost every tool in your arsenal.
In time you may graduate to a full level Panic attack using protective equipment (HIGH GEAR™). But take your time with this. Reckless training will only lead to unnecessary injuries.
Ah, alas, we arrive at the infamous grappling range. The subject of much debate. Due to the recent popularity of “ground” arts, I am compelled to make a statement before I reveal some of our grappling strategies and tactics.
Firstly, there is no best range. There is no best “art” or “style”. Style is about ‘stylistic’ performance. (Note: CHU FEN DO is a system comprised of interdependent components that function to serve the whole. It is NOT a style by design.)
The superior fighter, the true warrior, trains in all ranges and becomes proficient in weapons and improvised weapons. He is not paranoid; he is prepared. To focus purely on one arena is to invite disaster.
Contests and competition cannot determine the ultimate martial art. A “style” does not defeat an opponent. There is an old expression: “There is no superior martial art, only superior martial artists.”
Bruce Lee could have made any system work. Tyson would maul most opponents, whether he was boxing or using Tai Chi movements. In the end, it’s you that must perform. Your chosen style may enhance your efforts or it may encumber your efforts. That is for you to evaluate (hopefully, long before an altercation).
* This article is an excerpt from Tony Blauer’s “Personal Defense Readiness: Survival Philosophy and Psychology/Advanced Street Defense Fundamentals.”
Signup for the newsletter!
THE BTS TRAINING CALENDAR• Special Events
• LEO/MIL & First Responder Courses
• Personal Defense Readiness (PDR) Coaches Course
• CrossFit Defense (Trainer & Athlete)
Click here to view