top of page
  • Writer's pictureJackie Bradbury

What's In Your Toolbox?

In class the other day, we were working our basic Defensive Responses, inserting them into the hubad-lubad drill.

Me teaching the first Defensive Response, same-side block and strike. This was back in the day in Texas.

I know, that's pretty specific to my style, so let me quickly explain: A Defensive Response is a set of fundamental drills intended to give you something to go-to quickly in an attack that allows you to block and counter-attack simultaneously (they are based on some awesome drills from Kombatan).

Hubad-lubad is a pretty common relatively cooperative FMA drill that involves blocking an attack, passing it, and then checking (or counter-attacking), and then it's your turn to attack, and you flow from person to person.

Ok, we good? Let's continue.

As quickly happens, students start wondering what else they can do with these inserts.  Can I do a kick? What if I move off the line?  Could I get a lock here?  What happens if I step the other way? What changes if the attack is linear?

It's fun to play with these drills because it's sure to spark the imagination.

That's one huge advantage of drills like hubad-lubad (and others, including sinawali and playing tapi-tapi and sumbrada, to name three).  You get a lot of reps with a variety of options to learn timing and experiment with different things you may have learned.  You get to ask, "Might this work here?" and then try to figure out how to make it happen.

So, as a part of this conversation, we got to talking about our Defensive Responses, and why we work them so hard at the early levels in their training.  We typically train this in our double-stick material and empty handed.  Not so much single-stick (it can be done, but it's not optimal for a variety of reasons) but it also translates really well to shorter weapons like dulo-dulo and knife and espada y daga.

The reason we work them so hard at early is because, all things considered, these are the basic tools in their self defense toolbox.

I compared these responses to the most common tools most people use in their homes.  Think about the tools you keep in your junk drawer for easy access.  In my house, that's a hammer, an adjustable wrench, a Phillips screwdriver, a pair of scissors, and a flat-head screwdriver.

Oh, we have lots of other useful tools, and we need those tools once in a while.  Socket wrenches.  Saws.  Drills. Those weird hex wrenches.

I don't care how many sets of these you buy, you will never have the right size you need.

Generally, though, we tend to use just four or five basic tools for most things we do, even if it isn't the most optimal tool for the job at hand.  Everybody who's ever nailed a small nail or tack into something using the handle of a screwdriver because they didn't want to go fetch the hammer is nodding at me right now.

That's what the Defensive Responses are in my martial arts toolbox (with a couple of other items, including brush grab strike, always a favorite).  My hammer, my adjustable wrench, my screwdrivers.  Simple tools you can use for a lot of jobs.

I like simple.  Simple is good.

What if it fails?  Well, I know other stuff to do next, and practice those, too.  There is no perfect, undefeatable technique after all.  But it is built upon a foundation of the Defensive Responses.

We drill these very early in our program, knowing that most people don't study for years and years, so when they leave us, they at least leave with a few tools in their toolbox that are sturdy and simple and easy to use - like a hammer or a screwdriver.

At a very basic level, they can deal with an incoming attack, and escape the situation - which is the whole idea behind self defense, after all, right?

So tell me about the basic tools in your toolbox.  Do you have a set of simple-go to moves?  Tell us in the comments!

44 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All


bottom of page