Self-defense: how to defend from a push

How to defend against a push

In this practical self-defense tutorial, we see how to face a low-level type of aggression: the classic frontal push to the chest.

Even if it does not appear a dangerous attack, the possible consequences, as we will see, could be very serious; in addition to this, the push is one of the most common starting points of a fight (ag. after a quarrel, read Self defense: 10 correct attitudes during a quarrel).

The point is that, on the street, the pure combat phase rarely is longer than a minute and if we react correctly, starting from the first move: we certainly gain more possibilities to save our lives.

Note – This article has been asked by one of our Core Course practitioners on Patreon (see how to attend our home study classes here Learn Kung Fu online: a beginner-to-expert course).

How to defend from a frontal push to the chest

The sample scenario:

  • A quarrel has already started
  • No one has been yet attacked
  • We are in front of a (normal) person who is upset
  • That person has the impression of being stronger than us (correct in 70% of the cases)
  • He suddenly invades our private space (read Ideal distance from the opponent during a fight)
  • He wants to push our chest (with 2 hands and without grabbing us)

Possible risks:

  • The biggest risk, for a person without a good balance, is to fall badly hitting the head (this could even lead to death)
  • The most common risk is to lose stability enough to offer a tactical advantage to our opponent (and even this, as we said, could be crucial)

How to face a push: a solution for each one

We want to share different solutions due to the fact that, who is very far from the martial practice (even if in good physical conditions) cannot count on advanced skills like:

A note by Master Kongling – These are capabilities that cannot be obtained without a constant and focused practice (read How to start practicing from scratch): they have nothing to do with strength, reflexes, balance (etc., read Natural talent and martial arts).

The idea is that, being a simple tutorial, it is worth trying to offer a valid solution for all levels of preparation.

How a not-practitioner should react

In this case, the best solution is to:

  • Try to accommodate and absorb the impact force (bending the torso like a “C” and letting the head goes slightly forward)
  • Make immediately a long step backward (to recover our balance)
  • Raise a guard stance as fast as we can (read How to rapidly learn Kung Fu: guard stance)
  • Immediately recover a safe distance

Done this:

A note by Master Kongling – Especially if we are not prepared to fight, we should avoid at all costs to do it. To obtain this result, the best choice is to try to manage the distance and avoid at all cost the stable contacts (because they will consume immediately all of our energies and will bring us to the ground with all that goes with it, read How to avoid the ground fighting).

How a beginner-intermediate level practitioner should react

Let’s see a few options:

  • The best reaction is to avoid to get pushed exiting frontally to the left or to the right (as for a punch, channeling / deviating the opponent’s action, see Trapping: 4 EASY to LEARN Techniques (video)); this gives us time and space to recover the control of the situation
  • Another possibility is to intercept the arms of the opponent with a trapping motion (see 32 TRAPPING DRILLS samples) combined with a striking technique but in this case, we raise the level of violence considerably (this option should be pursued only if there are no other options)

If we are too late and the opponent manages to reach our chest, we simply have to relax, letting our weight go down frontally (liquid state, read Liquid, Fluid and Solid: an exchange sample).

At this point we can choose the level of reaction:

  • Low – If we do not want to hurt / control our aggressor (eg. if the push is a friend’s provocation), we could simply use a trapping move to free ourselves, exit laterally and then push him away (exploiting one of the stable thrust lines of the human body)
  • Medium – We could simply push him at the base of his neck; the stronger we will push the bigger will be the effect, he will have to forcibly step back
  • High – We could block his hands on our chest, make him lose his balance frontally and at the same time, attack the base of his nose with a palm strike, capture his head and bring it to our knee

A note by Master Kongling – In 90% of the cases, outside a collaborative context, a not practitioner would not able to react this way.

How an advanced-expert level practitioner could react:

Potentially, against a low-level opponent, if we are skilled practitioners, we could even:

  • Make him falling even not rising our arms, simply assuming a solid and vibrating state (exploiting one of the unstable thrust lines of the human body)
  • Make him falling even not rising our arms, simply assuming a fluid stance (exploiting the inertia of the push)

Instead, in a more serious and concrete context, we could:

  • Before being touched – Turn on our side and enter in the middle of the opponent’s guard (between the 2 arms) hitting him at the base of the chest with an elbow strike
  • After being touched – Block the arms and execute a striking technique, a Chin Na (read Chin Na) or a throw (read The 3 phases of a throw); with a Chin Na technique, we can choose to control him or, in the worst case, to cause such damage that prevents him from continuing to fight

A note by Master Kongling – For an expert the solutions are endless, these are only examples.

The best possible solutions for everyone

WE have not directly mentioned them but these are always the most effective:

Final notes

A few conclusive thoughts:

  • It must be said that an expert opponent does not use this “classic” pushing method; if he wants to push, he uses an explosive movement through the thrust lines of the body, he remains in balance and he never leaves his limbs at the mercy of his adversary; in almost all the other cases he strikes or grabs (but these considerations are beyond the current discussion)
  • The levels of preparation we have listed are not generic, they refer to the evaluation of a certified 6 Dragons Kung Fu’s instructor (we cannot talk for other styles, combat systems or martial arts)
  • If discipline, concentration and preparation are superficial, even after 30 years of practice we will not be able to fight effectively, on the other hand, even only after 12-24 months, whoever puts the maximum determination can start to turn into a tiger

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Reply in the comments and share your experience:

  • What would be your reaction to a violent push?

Author: Master Kongling

Founder of 6 Dragons Kung Fu.

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