The cover is a tactic that has soared to prominence in the traditional, sporting and self defence martial arts circles over the past decade. For the sake of clarity I am using the term to describe any of the counter-offensive tactics that involve wrapping the arms around the head. I have seen it in traditional Chinese martial arts, in karate, in silat, in mixed martial arts, in panantukan, in some ju jutsu styles and even in western boxing. The most famous modern systems that have popularized its usage are Rodney King’s Crazy Monkey and the Keysi Fighting Method. Whether it is the peek-a-boo guard or the pensador, variations of the cover keep cropping up as efficient methods for in-fighting. There are many reasons for this, which I will go into along with the tactic’s weaknesses.
Most advocates of the cover agree that it is a very natural response during the in-fight stage. Is this really the case? A simple test I use to bring out this natural response is to ask a student to adopt a natural posture to protect themselves against multiple objects. The posture most adopt will be akin to the one a golfer will adopt when they hear the word “Four!” Interestingly if you a throw a single object at a person their flinch response will not be to cover, but to throw their hands out in front. If we know where the threat is coming from we will intercept it or deflect it head on, but if the attack is coming from several angles or an unpredictable one then we are more likely to cover our heads. When a person is overwhelmed by a volley of uninterrupted strikes to the head they will instinctively cover.
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