How to Redirect an Attack

March 26, 2018

Have you ever wondered how to protect yourself when facing a scary opponent? Someone larger and more powerful than yourself? How do you stop the attack? Answer: you don’t. Instead, redirect the attack.

A rushing attack, or a pushing attack, should be redirected away from the target: your body. A redirect uses a small amount of energy to move a mass from hitting you and placing it where it may be under your control. Think of a forty-foot boat about to hit the dock; you will not be able to stop it, but you will be able to guide or redirect it to a safe settlement on the side of the dock.

Different from a parry, a redirect not only moves the attack off its intended target, it places the attacker at a disadvantage.

Is the attack real?

Any perceived threat can be scary and cause fear. However, that doesn’t necessarily mean that an attack is imminent or that a response is needed to protect yourself.

Try to maintain a confident demeanor (this will improve with training). You will be shaken. If the person is a stranger, ask, “May I help you?” Their reply will most likely giv eyou an indication into their state of mind. However, most attacks are conducted by persons who know their victim and that response would not work. Keep a sure defensive pose. Do not let them come within two arms length when and wherever possible; put a vehicle, or an object between youa nd the aggressor. Of course the obvious answer is if you can…BOOK IT!! Run towards habitation, light, or authority. The object is not to look like a “potential victim.”

To understand if someone is really attacking you, read their body language. A genuine attack requires the attacker to shift their balance and energy in the direction of the person they intend to attack. During a genuine attack, the attacker’s torso and head will be forward of their hips. Someone whose torso and head are in-line directly above their hips has not committed their energy and body mass to an attack.

Very often, there has been an excalation in aggression. This may include, loud vocalizations, aggressive language, physical aggitation. This escalation may have taken seconds, or in the case of domestic violence, a slow simmer of years. Take this into account when answering a potential threat.

If the attack is not genuine; then you need do nothing. But I would recommend leaving the situation to prevent an escalation.

Is the attacker larger and stronger?

Someone larger and stronger can be intimidating. It’s easy to give in to fear and anxiety. However, you can still defend yourself even if the attacker is bigger and/or stronger than you. Gaining effective skills and knowledge to use as defensive measures will increase your chances of successfully defending yourself from attack.

Nearly all attacks will be done by someone who is larger, more aggressive, or has an advantage due to age or pysical condition. By and large, people committing a crime against others, do not want to be hurt. Your mind set should be: no ;matter the situation, your attacker will be hurt.

It’s important to stay calm and focused. Panic will only interfere with your attempts to protect yourself: panic will;

  1. confuse your thinking and cause you to ignore potential means of defense;
  2. interfere with muscle function.

Instead, when you will feel your fear trying to take hold:

  1. breath deeply using your lower abdominal muscles;
  2. lower your shoulders;
  3. breath in through your nose & out through your mouth.

Don’t be there

The best way to avoid an attack is to just not be there. There are multiple ways to accomplish this:

(1) Pay attention to your environment so that you can anticipate a potential conflict and LEAVE: cross the street, go into a public building, or public transportation.

(2) When someone tries to hit or kick you, move out of the way. You can move backward, sideways, or forward toward the attacker. Any of these movements will put you out of the place where the strike would be strongest.

Strikes have a place, a point in time-space, where the energy of the strike will transmit the strongest energy and cause the greatest damage. To gain an advantage do not be in a place that would be in-line with the aggressive action. Instead, be somewhere else.

Change the direction of the attack

The concept behind re-direction to deflect an attack consists of allowing it to touch in such a way that the attack slides past or is moved into a different direction. Methods to accomplish this include:

(1) Open the door – As the attack begins, move your foot on the same side as the attack (attacker’s right fist, move your left foot) forward toward the attacker. Move your other foot forward and turn sideways.

(2) Make a wedge – Lift both arms upward in a natural curve and allow the attack to touch your wrist or lower arm. The attack will slide down your arm and away from your body.

(3) Push it away – Use a sweeping motion to push the attack into a different direction.

(4) Parry – Don’t block the attack

In training for many different disciplines, we are instructed to bob, weave, or block. Bob and weave are good for boxing, but may not work as well in an attack. This is because in boxing you are mentally set up in advance for combat and competition. Whereas in an attack, you are surprised and must respond instinctively. Blocking is the response that most people would instinctively use in an aggressive situation. But training for a parry would be effective in a conflict as this leads to a capture and take down situation.



There are disciplines that teach re-direction as a major component of their art, such as, Wing Chun and Aikido. Training in these arts helps develop the timing and distance skills necessary to deflect attacks. A redirection or parry is more conducive to overall safety and containment of aggressive behavior. It’s safer for everyone: the person defending themselves, bystanders, and the attackers. It’s also more conducive to a favorable legal outcome.





One Comment

  • Paul March 31, 2018 at 6:09 pm

    I can say that having done karate and aikido and sparred against much larger opponents, I definitely favor a redirect over a block. Blocks demand a lot of endurance and resilience on one’s part and is kind of playing a game a chicken to see who handles the pain better. Not to say blocking is not viable, but redirection is more efficient and sets the opponent up for better followup attacks.

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