The Action Beats Reaction Problem is actually on your side most of the time in a physical altercation if you are the attacker / offending party. But, as stated in my last post in America we are desirous of a self defense method where we have the legal, moral and ethical high ground as well as being able to competently defend ourselves.
This puts the average person at quite a disadvantage because it forces most of us to react to an action that has already been taken by an aggressor.
The reality of the Action Beats Reaction Problem is that it is only a problem for those who are stuck in a fist fighting mindset for self defense. If you are going to stand toe to toe with an attacker and they attack and you react then you are probably going to get hit first, second and most likely last because against a serious threat the fight is now over!
Ponder the next question for a moment before you read on. When does your self defense method kick in? If it is near the point of physical contact then you are almost always going to be late to the party and so will almost always lose in a serious confrontation. The reason for this is because a real criminal attacker will begin attacking as soon as they think they can reach you with as much suddenness and as viciously as they can with everything they have.
If you are not already attacking before the criminal can open fire on you then you are almost certainly going to lose the battle/war for your safety and maybe your life!
For a Clear’s Silat student self defense begins by applying Action beats Reaction and solving the physical Action Beats Reaction Problem. The first step is to keep as much distance between you and a potential attacker as humanly possible. Awareness is the first tool and the first Action. The second Action is avoidance. Keep distance between you and a possible attacker so that they can never physically reach you without it being obvious to you well in advance that they are trying to get close to you and may well be planning to attack. Awareness and avoidance are key.
Of course a serious attacker will continue to approach you and even if they are hiding their actions it will become more and more obvious what their intentions are.
This is where the Action Beats Reaction Problem becomes a little more crucial to understand. It is really important that you work to keep the potential attacker at a distance so that they are forced to reveal themselves before physically being able to reach you.
At this point you want to utilize deterrence skills. One type of deterrence is to throw your fists up. But, this simply communicates that you are willing or worse yet desiring to fight which, although possibly a good physical self defense tactic, fails to work within the desired legal and moral self defense constraints that our society tends to require opening you up to criminal and civil liability. (By the way, I am not a lawyer/attorney and I am not giving you legal advice here. Please seek out appropriate legal counsel from a certified attorney for such things.)
Instead of throwing our fists up Clear’s Silat stylists will tend to hold up our arms and Open Hands in a back off / stay away / what do you want / keep your distance sort of posture that we refer to as Clear’s Silat Welcoming Posture #1. This gives us a certain positional advantage and helps keep the distance including expanding the area that we can refer to as our personal space. We hold our hands up high enough that an attacker cannot reach our body without stepping underneath our hands and that our hands can not be easily reached either. This helps to make it very difficult for an attacker to attack and reach us with any force without telegraphing their intent from over several feet away.
Another part of solving the Action Beats Reaction Problem is that we are moving our arms a bit and we are also moving our body a bit in the same way that someone yelling get back would emphasize and punctuate their words with their body or in a slight swaying waving motion if you have had the benefit of physically training it.
Constant motion is a key to solving the Action Beats Reaction Problem. So that we are in Action first even though we are not aggressively attacking we are ready in the same way that animals in nature are ready to strike before striking. Because our hands are up in the air with the hands open the communication of our bodies to the would be attacker is much more of a “Back Off / Get Away!” message than a “Come on let’s do it!” message. Come on and fight may not be easily defended in a court of law but “I do not want this get away from me” is typically considered an appropriate social response to unwanted aggression.
The good news is the same movement that communicates this message is also the same movement that really effectively puts you in constant motion and in a completely ready position for effective physical self defense.