Fronting - The First Step in Self Defense – The Self Defense Company

Fronting – The First Step in Self Defense

Fronting – The First Step in Self Defense

Fronting” is the dodge to get in close to you. The frontal assault, as opposed to the ambush.

Fronting can be either a direct confrontation (intimidation) or it can make use of “artifice”, i.e. “got a light”, “got the time”, “how do I get to such and such”. Anything “innocent” to throw you off your guard and allow the assailant to “get into your safety zone”. That area where action WILL ALWAYS best re-action.

The key here is NEVER TRUST anyones “intention”, NEVER!

Maintaining the “reactionary gap” is the single most important “thing” in this situation. In order for ANY attack to be optimally effective three things must “work” in the attackers favor: Time – Distance – Opportunity.

NEVER “allow” anyone within arms distance. If they are close enough to simply reach out and touch you, you have a BIG PROBLEM.

How did you get there?

I wish I had a dime for every self-defense “expert” that starts with this line – OK, the bad guy throws a punch……………

WHAT? Did he just appear in a cloud of smoke? Simply materialize from nowhere? What preceded this “punch”?

How did he approach you and manage to get into your safety zone? Is it an “ambush”? How did you wind up dealing with the attack?

The equation for dealing with this is NOT the “defense”, its understanding our “triad”, TIME – DISTANCE – OPPORTUNITY.

Increase the TIME necessary for the assailant to be effective.
Decrease the TIME necessary for YOUR attack to be effective.

Increase the DISTANCE necessary for the assailant to be effective.
Decrease the DISTANCE necessary for YOUR attack to be effective.

Remove or minimize the OPPORTUNITY necessary for the assailant to be effective.
MAXIMIZE your OPPORTUNITY to make YOUR attack effective.

The assailant has to TARGET YOU, COVER THE DISTANCE TO GET TO YOU, and then have THE OPPORTUNITY to implement his assault, in other words you have to be there when he gets there.

Now! Time – Distance – Opportunity = SPEED – POWER – ACCURACY.

That’s the full “combat” equation. It works for the assailant AND it works for you.

So, I’m more concerned with “how” we disrupt the equation for the attacker and use it to our advantage, than I am about “defending against the punch”.

Here are two good ones:

“A miss is as good as a mile”
“Almost only works for horseshoes and hand grenades”

That’s also what I mean when I say look at the “big picture”.

Combat shooting:

Speed and “man-killing” accuracy. “Nail driving” accuracy is great as long as it doesn’t effect your SPEED!

Distance? Measure the longest “area” in your home. Hallway, bedroom, kitchen, etc., all the places that an attack may occur. What’s the distance? Don’t waste time firing at ranges over that!

I know people that have weapons strategically placed around their living environment. Never know where you’ll be when you need what you don’t have, right?

How about the one place where you really are naked as a jay-bird? The shower. Drawstring plastic bag(waterproof) with you in the shower, containing 230 grains of “soap”. No, I’m NOT kidding. Better to have “it” and NOT ever need it, than to need “it” and NOT have it. ALWAYS, ALWAYS…..remember Uncle Murphy! The SOB will always show up when least expected, ALWAYS!

Ok, I’m sorry I made your stomach hurt.

SWEAR WORDS! I’m shocked! Don’t tell me that good solid Catholic schooling was wasted?

Anyone who knows me, KNOWS I do NOT approve of such language!

Hope I helped clarify.


Carl Cestari

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Published by Damian (Instructor)

Founder, The Self Defense Company

Join the Conversation


  1. I wish I was here in time to know him. He was wise and knowing. I miss him and never heard of him before 2017. L-5

  2. An excellent article with very specific information.

    I have always followed the adage with my students that very seldom should someone get closer with their hands to your firearm than your hands are. In other words, if you find that someone has caught you off guard (it happens to everyone eventually) and your weapon is on your strong-side hip (as an example) your first movement should be to rotate that hip away from them. If you are forced to be at “contact distance,” with a stranger…at least make sure your “body-width,” is between their hands and your weapon.

    Thank you for publishing your article. Awesome info!

  3. Mr.Carl Cestari – even though I never knew him in person, in 2007 I got hold of his Old School series (only parts of it), and that is the very reason why I ended up with a neverending interest in WW2 Combatives.
    Mr.Carl Cestari – the Man, the Teacher, the Warrior.

    May he rest in our Lords’ arms.

  4. Excellent points! I have run into this exact circumstance when traveling overseas, where other cultures do not have the “personal bubble” emphasis that many Americans have. Attention to reaction space becomes MUCH more imperative in those circumstances.

  5. Just had a good conversation about distance and situational control with a professional boxing instructor last night. Totally on the same page when it comes to the reality of street assault. It was good to know that there are at least some other types of instructors out there who understand the street.

  6. At 70 it’s probably a bit late to start to learn, but I have to say I would feel a lot more confident if I had a some knowledge of how to disable a attacker or to at least hurt them if they are going to hurt me.

    1. Alistair, The Self Defense Company teaches based on principles and not techniques. There is something here for everyone! If the self sefense doesn’t work for everyone then it isn’t true self defense. You can get great training here at any age or level of fitness.

  7. I’m armed 24/7; however, the shower thingy is a bit much. My place is alarmed up and can not be disarmed outside the joint. Even a ‘no-knock’ beat down of my door or broken window, gives me time <10 sec, even naked, to access my 'border repeller by the sink! LOL

    1. Bars of soap in a bag, Rocks in a sock, canned vegetables in a sack create a mace that can be very effective against a knife or even a gun wielding assailant. If the soap gets wet, it will turn to bluck and not work. That’s prison knowledge brother. I knew a guy that would rub soap on the floor, not all over just in certain spots. Work the guy on to the spot. Probably won’t need it, so just clean it up when your done.

  8. Alistar…I am also the ripe old age of 70 and thankful that I know many of the training techniques that Damian puts out there. At our age we are no longer able to go toe to toe with someone younger/ stronger and quicker than we are …so much mor the reason to take just one class at a time online with SDC . I have aught many people from women, martial artists and State Law Enforcement but limit it to @ 20 moves. You do not have to have ten years of training to be effective to eliminate a threat …learn a few and know them well and you will do fine.

    1. David, your comment reminded me of something attributed to Bruce Lee Don’t fear the man who learned 1000 different kicks–fear the man who learned 1 kick and practised it 1000 times… (paraphrased)

    2. David, your comment reminded me of something attributed to Bruce Lee: Don’t fear the man who learned 1000 different kicks–fear the man who learned 1 kick and practiced it 1000 times… (paraphrased)

      1. I appreciate the comments of these older men. What they say here is true. I was thinking of the old prizefighter Jack Dempsey and an experience he had at age 76. Two men jumped him one night on the street, and tried to mug him. As it turned out , he knocked them both senseless! This of course is a rare exception. I am 64 years old and I take care of myself and study Damian’s SDTS. Damian once said that your ability to defend yourself is directly related to your level of physical fitness. For this reason, I exercise regularly and study/train on Damian’s courses. You never know when you will need this stuff so you must always be prepared. This article reminded me of an incident where I was approached by a stranger at a gas station who wanted me to give him a ride to a bus stop (he did not say what bus stop). I did not give him a ride and I was on my guard as well, because this guy was younger and bigger than me. Nothing happened in this incident fortunately. You never know when you will need this material, so you must always be prepared. Thank you for sharing this article.

  9. As Damian says NEVER EVER trust anyone……….assume they arel carrying a weapon(s) which they have the full intention of using, always watch their hands…this simple advice kept me safe for 26+ years.
    Thanks Damian,
    Best regards,
    Steve (Italy)

  10. Carl strikes again. From the grave, no less!

    No shortage of gems here.

    Another consideration is to listen to your intuition or gut. There’s always that warning voice before something bad happens. You can’t be aware and perfectly disciplined 24/7. Not gonna happen.

    More and more I train myself to operate by feel rather than calculation. Because conscious calculation is too slow. Also, conscious awareness is also not that helpful. Because you can’t consciously process everything around you. But your subconscious does, and of course God does, and you can tune in to your intuition.

    With respect to awareness, I find it more useful to be aware of geometric possibilities, rather than try to gauge the threat level of every human around me. So, lines of approach and escape, etc.

    With people, I think you have to trust your gut, and read them as best you can. It’s impossible to keep every human being outside your defensive perimeter at all times. But your inner guidance system is incredibly accurate if you pay attention. My instincts have never been wrong, but I’ve ignored them a bunch of times.

    I’ve walked into gas stations, or stood next to people in check out lines, and I knew, just by feel, that if I snapped their neck I’d be doing the world a favor. I don’t, of course. But evil has a vibe to it. And it’s not prejudice on my part, because these sick fucks come in all colors, shapes and genders. All 79 Facebook genders.

    Kidding there, but there’s no pattern for me to think it’s personal prejudice. I literally feel like a real violent urge inside me just upon viewing these people or standing next to them. The vibe’s slightly different in each case but overall the same — that is to say, evil. Maybe one’s a pedophile, another a rapist…who knows. Occasionally I catch their eye, and they’ll know that I know, and they also know that I would really love any excuse they could possibly give me…

    Operating by feel is a hundred times faster than conscious calculation. Another reason I really practice using my peripheral vision and not my direct vision for striking and shooting, etc. I focus on peripheral awareness combined with physical balance.

    In this way, and by operating by feel, which is something you can ALWAYS increase in — the real focus of training — I do believe it’s possible for reaction to beat action. Everyone can be way faster than they think. The proof is touching a hot stove accidentally. The most out of shape person is lightning fast. That’s operating by feel. This can be psychological as well.

    Feeling will also trigger you to someone’s intent a split second in advance of their actual action as well.

    I once worked at a video store when I was much younger. Once, I was stocking videos and I heard a customer talking to the girl at the register. As soon as this guy started talking, I couldn’t hear everything he was saying, but I knew this guy was full of shit and also a piece of shit. Later on he was revealed to have been a short change artist who scammed the register girl.

    My instincts have literally never failed me. But sometimes I will feel guilty about them, or paranoid that I just need to relax a bit. But they’re never wrong. It’s when they seem the most irrational that they’re usually the most accurate. Again, this is by feel. You have to deep down, as a prerequisite, have an obsession with truth and understanding, which gives you a balanced mental platform from which to operate by feel.

    There’s plenty of delusional people — way more than less — who can’t tell the real voice from the circus of bitter clowns in their head.

    I don’t encounter evil people that often. And I encounter people I dislike immensely all the time. I know the difference. When I get around someone evil, I instantly feel this very primal urge to beat them to death immediately. These are cruel people who enjoy feeding off the pain of others. People such as this only understand the language of fear and pain. And that is the language you speak to them in, if they get chatty. They have no empathy, and no reason. But they do have lots of guilt. Not in the sense that they feel bad, but in the sense that they KNOW they are evil and they do know that the Wrath of God is coming for them inevitably. And maybe it has arrived.

    Sadly, the faith in God which probably heightens my sensitivity to begin with, also prevents me from taking them out. But I do work through scenarios in my mind, just in case.

    But my main point is that you can follow general safe practices, but you can’t be on 24/7. Like, I say that the best security system is one prepared to handle the full compromise of itself. Because all security can be beaten. Therefore, you anticipate this.

    Another reason to focus on training the use of peripheral vision and operating by feel. This requires extreme honesty — Ruthless Honesty I say — which is why I think most people will fail to get that far with it. Although, I’m fairly sure that everyone can relate to having had some internal warning before doing some dumbass thing.

    In fact, just recently, I’ve literally unloaded a few dead weights I’ve been carrying around masquerading as friends. I’ve become more ruthless. But I’ve got to be honest — I’ve known it the whole time. It never fails that every year I realize what a dumbass I was the year before. The only meaningful discriminator between peoples is their level of honesty.

    So, another way to avoid threats is to avoid frequenting locations with low character — low honesty — people, and to not closely relate to low character and low honesty people. I think most people in jail are there more because of the bad company they kept than because they were really that bad as human beings.

    “Bad company corrupts good character.” I’ve seen this with myself. If I tolerate a lower caliber of person around me too long, it does start to pull me down. I do at least recognize it and cut them loose, but it’s amazing to me just how much a person’s vibe can unconsciously influence another person. You really do have to be ruthless in what you tolerate.

    I think Warren Buffet said that successful people say no more than any other people. Now, granted Warren Buffet is a gangster and I don’t view him as a good guy, but that’s still a good point. Just a question of what exactly you’re saying no to.

    So, operating by feel I think is a useful skill to cultivate, as well as limiting your liabilities. You can’t be perfect, and you can’t be paranoid and keep everyone at arm’s length. But I think if you cultivate Ruthless internal Honesty, you’re going to find that you know and feel things in plenty of time to react. We all have a sixth sense.

    It’s still possible to be caught off guard. You’re human. You make mistakes. But you can program yourself in advance that if you are caught off guard you immediately counterattack directly into the line of attack. When you’re literally blindsided, this is your best hope. Even if they’re stabbing you, throwing your body at the knife is better than them stabbing the knife at you. Jam it if you can, but the point is that you will immediately take their balance with this unexpected reaction.

    Maybe you get an elbow up, maybe a shoulder, maybe a head butt — but the point is that you must immediately launch your entire body weight directly into the line of attack. This is if you’re caught literally completely off guard. The change of this not surprising and unbalancing the attacker is slim. Element of surprise. You could literally turn an ambush into a counter ambush with this tactic, where they not only completely lose the element of surprise but have it reversed on them to the point they’re off balance and helpless and bleeding out on the ground..

    But you would condition this response beforehand. This is where practicing the use of peripheral vision is so great. Peripheral vision is incredibly fast. Maybe it’s me, but any time anyone has thrown a punch at I always felt like it was moving in slow motion. But part of that is the large hooking motion most people use. Straight shots are harder to detect coming in. Another thing that makes the chin jab and heel of hand so much more effective to use on a dime. Straight in with a lot of leverage behind them.

    So because it is theoretically possible for all of us to be momentary dumbasses, then condition a response for that possibility. Just in case.

    Another way of training by feel is to go periods of time striking a heavy bag blindfolded. This will also increase balance. Could also simulate low light conditions. But because you’re blind, you have to strike by feel. So every shot is indexing, or setting up, the next shot. And you also have to keep better balance because without your sight you’re going to potentially stumble around more. But this also relates to a surprise attack because you have to react blindly in that case.

    My next thing is to set up some way to walk thru my house blindfolded shooting at sounds.

    I like what Carl said about shooting too. I train to shoot the exact same way I strike or do anything physically. It’s literally all the exact same way. Which is basically a function of balance. I train everyone to operate from balance as the most important thing. Balance while moving. I have what I call my theory of movement and I do everything physical the exact same way. So transitioning between activities or techniques is very simple.

    Also, I would keep in mind at all times that your mind is THE weapon, and everything else is an attachment. This includes words.

    The attacker’s mind is THEIR only weapon. A mind runs on words. Never forget the use of words as weapons.

    So suppose you are caught in your shower unawares, and some clown with a pistol runs in. Are they there to kill you or rob you or make waffles? Who knows. But you can say something weird to freeze their mind and then immediately attack. If you could somehow get them to do some math in their head that would be awesome. But anything that confuses them momentarily.

    It’s helpful if your entire reaction is confusing to them. Not hostile or provoking, mind you, but just confusing. This is my number one response to cops. I act like a confused dumb ass. Totally polite, but politely confused. Smart people act dumb, but dumbasses try to act smart. General rule.

    So, a guy breaks in with a gun, he’s expecting immediate fear and so on. But if you act confused and perplexed and then ask a fucked up question requiring a mental calculation on his part, you will freeze his brain long enough to close the distance to that brain and then destroy that brain.

    So, there’s another idea. But I do like the idea that truly superior security is prepared for the full compromise of itself. After all we’re all morons. Let’s be real. The amount of dumb shit I do — a lot of which knowing better — is staggering. But I can at least admit it, and reduce it, and be aware of it.

    Self awareness is THE ultimate awareness. If you’re not self aware, you don’t have much hope, frankly.

    So, along the lines of preparing for bad possibilities, are perhaps securing handcuff keys and lock picks and small razors on your person. Maybe you get drugged and wake up in a van, handcuffed. Who knows.

    I will say though that ultimately the only real security both now and forever is faith in God. Without that, does it really matter when you die? Let’s be real. So definitely as they say here…Train Honestly. With Ruthless Honesty.

  11. Hey Paul:
    I read your entire comment, and talk about GEMS….your comment was an entire MINE of gems!! My lady and I were talking just last night about a scenario, and what I told her fell in line EXACTLY with your gem about taking the offensive when caught off guard and turning the element of surprise back in your favor! I also especially liked the use of peripheral vision! I’ve been doing this instinctually for years! I don’t remember when I made the conscious choice to do this and made it a habit. I’m trying to teach my lady this same thing! Also….the “vibe” thing. Same here! You must be exceptionally handsome and a literal pillar of your community….as am I! 🤪🤪

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