Monday, 29 November 2010

Maximise Your Success Through the Law of Proximity

The law of proximity states that ‘the fastest attack uses the closest weapon to the nearest target’ Proximity is a sub law of the law of position and along with the law of priority, economy and hierarchy provides us with a basic strategy for all our attacks and defences. For instance using the law of proximity one would not kick someone in the head when their leg was a closer target. One should always attack the nearest target unless it is being offered to draw your attack.

Proximity means that whichever weapon is closest is probably the fastest and has the best chance of landing. Even if it does not allow a finishing technique it can be used to set up a finishing technique.

Beginners will often block a punch with their lead hand and counter with their rear hand. Blocking with the rear hand is ok though the general rule is to defend with the rear hand (allowing the attacker into your space) and bringing him close enough for your lead (closest) counter. The principle this follows is that we don’t defend an attack until it is a real danger, that is: don't block before you absolutely must. Beginners often defend shots that are not a danger as every shot seems to have danger in it. As one gains experience one learns to recognise shots that are dangerous and those that are less so and thus can be ignored allowing us to focus on higher priorities. Experienced fighters will use this 'panic' style reaction to lure their inexperienced prey into doing the wrong thing.

The general rule in martial arts is split into two main rules:

1.    Defend with the rear hand and counter with the lead.

2.    Defend with a lead and counter (also) with a lead

To defend with the lead and counter with the rear hand breaks the law of proximity because one is using the rear hand to attack when it is the furthest away. This takes more time and puts one at greater risk.

In life the law of proximity means attending to those issues which are closest either in time or distance. There is a saying ‘aim for the stars and at least you might reach the sky’ however, aiming too high at the outset can make goals seems unattainable and as another saying goes ‘you can’t hit a target that you can’t see’ ones motivation is adversely affected if the goal seems too distant.

The law of proximity consists of four key parts:

1.    Length – that is the distance between two combatants
2.    Level – moving ones head or body under or over the attack level
3.    Line – moving ones head or body inside or outside of the danger
4.    Leverage – the quality of the attack or defence one can make at any given distance

These are the four key parts of proximity and can be used in both attack and defence and form a strategy to follow when pursuing a goal or target. What this means is that you don’t have to go right at a target, though this might be your first response, instead one can change the level or line of your approach thereby being near the oncoming danger without being in its way. And leverage is the amount of weight one can bring to bear on the target once you achieve contact with it. I’m sure you will see elements of the 4 levels of defence in these approaches, but if you don’t then re-read the 4 levels as these are crucial to achieving your goals with a minimum exposure to risk.

In life the law of proximity means that you should attend to the nearest target first but the closest target may be approached from different levels or angles. One doesn’t need to go at each goal ‘like a bull at a gate’. A successful life is more of a subtle seduction process than a head on mugging, a negotiation rather than an outright demand.

In sparring this means don’t just take a frontal attack, judge your opponent, learn about your opponent and choose the most appropriate approach to match his weaknesses or strengths. imagine dealing with a friend who needs advice and help but rejects it when offered. To help them benefit from your experience you can change you line of approach by using a more subtle tack, perhaps dropping subtle hints or personal stories that don't seem to be about the problem. Change your length, level or line of attack whilst maintaining sufficient leverage to gain what you want. 

Imagine an analogy of working to get your own way against a large organisation perhaps getting an overdraft at the bank. Use the strategy provided by the law of proximity to plan your approach (attack) and remember that a frontal assault won’t work on a much bigger opponent unless you have the element of surprise on your side. When you make your attack/approach be also aware of the space and time you have available and deliberately use the weapons/tools at your disposal that are the most appropriate (nearest). Take a different line of approach, its easier to befriend a person than fight them, it's easier to get what you want by first being nicer to the bank staff and then asking for the overdraft than the opposite. Also remember that you must support your own position by having the skills (money management) to use the advantage (cash) to your best advantage. Think about this law as it is subtle, but very useful and you'll use it a lot once you understand it.

Thanks for reading today and I look forward to speaking to you again tomorrow.

Best wishes

Tony Higo
Chief Instructor
National Martial Arts College
0800 092 0948

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