The Flinch Response in Self Defense

by | Aug 26, 2022

Excellent question, one of the SAFE Certified instructors asked me. which comes up in our certification programs. Some say you can weaponize your flinch response; some say you can’t.

Just a few quick thoughts, so I would love to hear yours.

First, to flinch, you must see a threat or attack coming, whether you have several seconds or a microsecond. People often ask, “what if someone hits you behind with a punch, bat or another weapon? What would you do?” My reply is usually, “I am probably knocked to the ground, but hopefully able to gain my senses to fight back.” Again, you need to see or hear an attack to react to it.

Next, if the threat is in front of you, is an effective flinch response based more on your ability to recognize the pre-contact cues of an attack? What is their distance from you because if you are face to face, and your hands are down, no flinch response is quick enough unless they launch their attack like “Sid the Sloth” from Ice Age?

Your flinch may be based on how they are standing, which leg is forward, is one hand a fist, or are both hands indicating an attack coming, facial expressions, etc. So, your speed in defending is not just a natural defence based on your effective flinch but instead identifying as early as possible what threat is coming.

Or do you think identifying a threat and your flinch are the same thing?

I prefer to teach how to identify all the possible cues to an attack which makes your flinch more effective, not so much weaponizing the flinch.

And often, in training, people work on their flinch response but is it completely authentic because, in a drill, you have some awareness of an attack coming?