Whenever someone wants to get out of a confrontation, a common tactic is to just back away and try to keep some space between themselves and their aggressors.
This is a natural response to have, we don’t like having people standing too close to us – especially not when they’re trying to punch our lights out!
With that said, however, is moving backward in self-defense actually a bad idea and, if so, why?
Moving backward leaves you very vulnerable. If you’re not familiar with, or aware of your surroundings you won’t know what’s where and can easily fall or hit something you shouldn’t have. Additionally, it allows your opponent to generate forward momentum to add power to their assault.
Why Do We Move Backward?
Simply put we like having some space. Having someone standing practically nose-to-nose with you is uncomfortable.
Moving backward is quick and easy and it allows you to create some space between you and the other person.
It’s also an instinctive thing, when someone is standing very close to you, they’re able to hurt you physically as well as mentally.
Since we don’t want to get hurt, we try to get out of the way or at least out of reach of the other person.
There’s also the legal aspect of things to consider with most countries/states having a duty to retreat law of some sort.
In general, we try to avoid confrontations as much as possible because we don’t want any legal headaches.
The duty to retreat law makes it fairly simple, you have to show that you actively tried to avoid the situation if you want to claim self-defense.
What’s Wrong with Moving Backward?
Well, for starters, where are your eyes? In the front of your head, right? You can’t see what’s behind you, moving backward makes you vulnerable.
You could easily end up cornered – backed into a wall, a car door, or a table depending on your environment.
You might step into a hole or trip over a log, slip on the sidewalk, and/or get hit by a car.
In the worst case, you could be ambushed by a second attacker because your focus is in front of you.
There’s also one other problem – momentum. Moving backward is easy and intuitive and it gives you a bit of space, but your opponent can use that space to generate some good forward momentum for an attack.
That forward momentum is going to add a bit of extra power to the attack which can, in some cases, be absolutely devastating.
So, moving backward is a bad idea but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t move around – just don’t move backward if you can avoid it.
Instead, move in a semi-circular pattern; this will give you a wider field of vision and make it less likely for you to injure yourself and/or be ambushed by a second attacker.
I hope you all enjoyed this article and found it informative and helpful. As always, thanks for reading and I’ll see you for the next one. Take care, and stay safe!
Greg spent much of his younger years camping and hiking. Greg grew up on a small farm with lots of livestock such as cows, horses and chickens. He’s good with a bow and arrow, is a huge knife enthusiast, and has a blackbelt in Taekwondo.