Martial arts employing grappling techniques teach the need to move with an attacker’s energy, and not in opposition to it. Moving in direct opposition to the attack’s force diminishes the attack/response to a mere test of strength and creates a situation where the protector is locked into this test instead of negating the threat. By responding to an attack through applying a force that is not on the attack’s trajectory, or even adding to the attack’s force, the response is far more effective.
To describe direct opposition, imagine a punch to the chest. The attacker winds up, and punches straight at the chest. To stop the attack, the defender could reach the fist before it accelerates too quickly, and attempt to push the fist back towards the attacker. In this case, the test of strength is established. Similarly, two people pushing against each other is direct opposition of force. This is clearly not a viable defense against a punch or push, and is stated for definition purposes only. Whether a strike or a shove, moving in direct opposition to the attacker’s force is a relatively ineffective response, and gives the attacker time to formulate a new attack.
To describe redirection, a typical block involves a redirection of the punch. A typical inside-to-outside block will cause the punch to be redirected outside the target area. The punch typically has no forces keeping it on trajectory, as all of the attacker’s strength is used to accelerate the fist to create punching force. Regardless of the type of attack coming in, blocking is redirecting the attack outside the target area and is a viable defense. The down side of a mere block is that there is no chance to go on the offense.
To describe adding to the attack, the punch comes in at the chest, the protector moves out of the way, and pulls on the punch even more, adding extra energy to the attack. Whether able to pull directly along the vector of the attack, or just do a bit of adding to it and blocking it, the extra energy added to the attack forces the attacker to “absorb” it. If you push on something and miss, you may stumble a little and regain posture. If you push on something, miss, and get pulled in the same direction, you can get thrown off balance and have to correct your balance.
In an actual altercation, all three responses are likely to be used at some point, and must come intuitively. With practice and good training mindset, direct opposition can be minimized, and redirection/additive movement can be maximized.
Adding to the attack and causing the attacker to go off balance is a key aspect to grappling arts. It is creating this imbalance that allows the protector to take the initiative in an encounter and affect the attacker’s actions. The results of adding to an attack are also exploitable.
As an attacker makes a mighty shove and is thrown off balance, the protector can use that energy to make his own attacks, or he can use a second opportunity as the attacker regains his composure. In the example of a shove going past a target, the attacker must then exert force in his legs to straighten up his body to keep from falling forward. This typically results in the torso and head rising. If the protector is able, adding energy to this corrective action is also a very viable opportunity to apply a technique. Arts like jujutsu and aikido employ these explouitations of corrective momevent in many of their techniques.
The next time you practice, try to observe how a training partner employs an attack, as well as how that attack is recovered. If energy is added to the attack, what changes? What corrective movements does he do to maintain balance? How can you exploit them?