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The Ready Stance: Alert Defense

There are many times officers or security guards have to stand face to face with an individual at fairly close range. It may involve the officer questioning someone. It may be a response to a question for directions, a specific situation that is asked about, or simply, the correct time. Regardless of the reason, the officer should always be alert and aware of a possible threatening situation. The question becomes, how can the officer assume a natural looking posture, at no time giving off a sign that may be seen as threatening to the individual? Further, the stance should put the officer in a position to block and counter an attack if one is launched. It is this posture that we call the Ready Stance.

When someone approaches, or if asked a question, the officer should take a slight step back with the right foot, with the hips and right foot facing at a 45 degree angle. Approximately 90% of the weight should be on the back foot. At the same time that this is done slowly, the left hand should come up naturally and slowly, as if the officer is straightening his/her hair, scratching a chin, or any such natural looking gesture. It would seem unnatural if the left hand were to simply be kept dangling in this position, so the right hand is then brought across the stomach, and the left elbow “naturally” comes to rest on the right wrist.


At this point, with the body at this angle and the left hand in a somewhat vertical position, the target areas for a potential attack have been minimized. There are really only three hand attacks that can be thrown that would carry knock-out potential: a right to the head, a left to the head, and a left to the stomach. The blows to the head may be blocked with a high point defense, the left to the stomach with a low point defense. In both the high and low point defenses, the body turns back to face the assailant straight on when the block is made, thereby setting the officer’s body up in a proper position for counter moves. If the assailant attempts a kick, the officer has either a front snap kick or a side thrust kick available to use first. Remember– the front snap kick can be delivered between 60 and 80 mph. It should be used at this speed, thereby preventing the assailant’s foot attack. A slight variation to this takes place when an officer is writing down information. The same position is taken, in the same slow, natural manner, with the pad in the left hand, pen in the right. The blocks are executed in the same way, either with the materials in hand or they may be dropped.

[Historical note– This stance was developed by Larry A. Lent, Shihan and product of the S.A.C. program, when he returned to civilian life and taught the Orlando Police Force.]

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