Like Versus Like

Yesterday I talked about the problem of compliance when judging the self-defence potential of a technique. Today I will share some thoughts on another problem, that of “Like versus like”. Sometimes a technique will work, but only against someone fighting in the same style or a particular style.
Wing Chun fighters are correctly taught that the best targets lie on the centre-line and are taught to attack and defend accordingly. I have seen at least one author assert with great confidence that “your enemy will attempt to attack your centre-line”. If he is trained in Wing Chun, he undoubtedly will. Many fighters not trained in Wing Chun will attempt to gain the outside gate in preference where many perfectly good targets can be more easily attacked. The first move of the Yang Tai-Chi form has the student raising their hands up and then lowering them. One of the combat applications of this move is to place the hands on an enemy’s shoulders and jerk them down and back, often dropping them at your feet.
Other styles also fall into the trap of “Like versus like”. Some Tai-Chi books seem to assume that a common tactic by enemies is to grasp your wrist. Grabbing wrists in a real fight can be harder than you might expect. If an enemy does grab your wrist he will probably immediately use it to pull you off balance or throw you, leaving little time for an elegant and devastating counter move. Some grappling-orientated styles pay little attention to learning effective punching techniques and assume they will face the same quality of punching they encounter in training. They expect to duck under a punch, clinch their opponent and then throw him to the ground to use their favoured techniques. Watch any real boxer and you will see that if they miss a punch they tend to throw several more in rapid succession.
In his interesting article here Marc MacYoung maintains that certain knife-fighting styles are most effective against attacks made in certain styles. I have been thinking about this recently as I have been reweighing the often suggested advice to counter a knife user with kicks to the leg. Usually the side-kick is used. One of the assumptions here is the knife-man is fairly static, not rushing right at you attempting to stab anything his knife encounters. How much of this requires the knife-man to be in a certain stance? Photos of this defence usually have the target leg advanced and bent. Low leg kicks tend to be most effective if weight is on the leg, but many combat stances tend to keep weight off the lead leg. What if the knife user knows nothing of “proper” knife fighting stances and is just standing normally? Can you reach his leg with your kick without your upper body coming into knife range? What if he steps forward as you commit to a kick? I am quite tall and long-legged but I am sceptical than many of my kicks could reach a knife man without coming into range of his knife. Circular sweeping kicks seem safer than the side-kick. Kicking from the outside gate is safer but from this aspect I don’t need to attack his lower leg: I have the coccyx, back and thigh as targets. I can even not kick at all and use the Tai-Chi trick of jerking him off-balance.
This is obviously something that needs experimentation and further thought.