The second level of engagement in our ETD Model involves thwarting or disrupting an attack. The important distinction here is that you have not been able to successfully escape prior to an attack and now must deal with the initial attack and/or subsequent attacks from your opponent. The primary goal here is to disrupt or preclude the first strike and/or any subsequent strikes from the opponent.
This can be done, at the most rudimentary level, by blocking. If someone punches and you successfully block the strike then you have technically disrupted it. Unfortunately, depending on how you have blocked the initial attack, you may have only served to allow or even encourage a secondary strike from your opponent. Blocking with an outward directed movement (from the opponent’s perspective) often encourages a strike from the assailant’s opposite side. In such cases you have thwarted one attack but initiated another.
Ideally, Thwarting involves disrupting a movement in such a way that no subsequent attack can occur. This is often best accomplished with parry or checking movements, though strategic strikes and rotational movements can also be quite effective.
If you have become engaged with an opponent your primary goal will normally be to prevent any future aggressive actions on the part of the assailant. This is a relatively hard skill to learn and something you will not master for probably many years, but we introduce it here because it is a vital part of the Tensoku Ryu methodologies. You will ultimately learn to use Jodan, Chudan, and Gedan levels together with knowledge of human anatomy, physics, timing, distancing, and rotation (and so many other things) to ensure an opponent is no longer able to do anything other than what you wish them to do. This is the essence of the Thwarting concept.
Thwarting ultimately affords you choices. When an opponent is no longer able to defend or protect themselves then you may simply leave (escape), release your opponent, call for assistance, or, in rare circumstances, do harm to your opponent. You should realize that at the end of every such event you will have a choice to make. You should always elect the most prudent yet least injurious option. While practicing you should experiment with different possible decision outcomes and how you might employ them in various situations.
We might employ the Thwarting concept at different times in a conflict. The most logical application is to thwart the initial incoming strike. We might do this by moving the strike to the side with a parry, block, or other manipulative skill. We could do this in conjunction with a center rotation to move the opponent’s structure so it points away from us. Now we have thwarted the initial strike and perhaps thwarted or prevented the possibility of a follow-up strike.
But this runs a bit contrary to our concept of History. So we might decide to ignore the first strike altogether and focus on preventing a secondary strike. We could do this by stepping inside (to the Face Side) of the attacker and striking either to the face or the non-extended (back) shoulder. Let’s assume someone has stepped forward with the right leg and thrown a right punch in our direction. We might move to our right and in closer to the opponent where we then punch or press into his or her left chest wall. This prevents this side of the body from being employed for a secondary strike (at least for the moment). We have, in effect thwarted the obvious secondary strike.
We are also now one step ahead of our opponent – who is now forced to be defensive. If we were creative in our thwarting motion we were able to structurally compromise the opponent so that a third potential strike is not possible. This will put us perhaps two steps ahead of the opponent.
Now each time the opponent attempts to move we thwart his or her intended strike or movement. This does not mean they can never escape this cycle of movement, particularly if we make a strategic error, but for a time we will have an advantage. We will seek to use our advantage to good effect.
It turns out that nearly any method you utilize to interrupt or disrupt your opponent has a thwarting effect. The opponent will be unable to do what he or she had planned. It will then take them some time and effort to position themselves again so they can do something meaningful. Of course, our goal will be to thwart that movement and perhaps a subsequent potential movement as well. Once you begin to utilize thwarting movements they can have a cascading effect. Any attempted movement on the part of the opponent is met with a thwarting action, which has a further destabilizing effect. As the opponent attempts to recover from that destabilization we thwart their movement again. And so it goes until we are in position to escape or do something more drastic.
Within the ETD model we prefer to escape if possible. If this is not possible or practical then we prefer to use thwarting actions to overcome and disrupt our opponent. Naturally we might employ both concepts during a conflict. We might escape because it provides us with an opportunity to perform a subsequent thwarting action. We might thwart our opponent and then, when they are sufficiently disoriented or immobilized, initiate our escape.
There is no set or preferred order in which things should be done. Sometimes an escape option will be obvious. Sometimes a thwarting action will be essential. As you gain experience with these concepts you will intuitively know how and when to apply whichever skill seems most appropriate at the moment. You will find that you are eventually able to do this without any thought process at all.