The Importance of Using Distractions

The other day, one of my students who is a member of the RCMP (Canada’s national police) came to me and told me of how he recently had an on the job experience in which the importance of using a distraction was emphasized.

This student is not large, but still has to apprehend people all the same. In this recent incident, a very drunk man was walking in the middle of a busy city street during rush hour. He first tried to talk the man off the road, but he was resistant. My student had to arrest the man for his own safety so he asked the man to put his hands behind his back, while he took hold of his wrist. The drunk man, however, was resistant and pulled his arms into his body, saying no and refusing to cooperate.

At this point, my student kicked him in the shin. The man, distracted by the sudden pain, relaxed his arms, making it easy for my student to get control of his arm, take him to the ground, then cuff him.

This is a perfect example of how a distraction can be used in a law enforcement scenario. It also works well in a self-defense context. The reason why it works is because the conscious mind can’t focus on two things at the same time. The sharp pain caused by the shin kick caused the man to distract his focus from his resistance to the more immediate shock of the pain. It need not be a shin kick specifically though. It can be a strike to a nerve motor point, pressure to a nerve pressure point, a pinch to a sensitive area, a strike to the groin, etc.

The shin kick is one of my favourite choices as a distraction (if you’re wearing strong shoes). Because it is low, people often don’t see it coming. When you use a shin kick, your hands are free for defensive purposes. Also, in my student’s case, he was very visible in the public eye, dealing with his suspect in a busy city street. The shin kick in this case is pretty innocuous and doesn’t look overly violent, even though it performs the task effectively. It is much more subtle than using fists, knees or elbows.

Anyway, I was very pleased to hear how this student applied our martial art effectively to accomplish what he needed to do on the job, only using as much force as was necessary to nullify the situation. Does anyone else out there have any similar experiences using distraction strikes that they would like to share?

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